Grand Central America

A once in a lifetime travel experience, enjoy all aspects of this marvelous isthmus, including all seven countries in the region, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama; visiting the most iconic tourist attractions, from impressive natural parks, amazing archaeological sites and colonial towns, vibrant cities and ethnic communities.

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Northern Central America

Join us as we explore the former home of the vast Maya empire which spans iconic archaeological sites such as Xunantunich in Belize, Tikal in Guatemala, Joya del Ceren in El Salvador & Copan in Honduras; along with exhuberant natural beauty, colonial towns and the warmth of its friendly people, make up for a unique travel destination, unparallel to any other region in the world.

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Southern Central America

Immerse yourself in the green lush rainforest to observe the breathtaking wildlife in Costa Rica & Panama, complemented with the historical heritage found at Leon and Granada in Nicaragua, guarded by majestic volcanoes and beautiful lakes; enjoy modern Panama City while seeing one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of mand kind, the Panama Canal.

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Grand Central America - 28 days, 27 nights

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  • Aerial view of San Salvador
  • Maya pyramids at Tazumal, El Salvador
  • Arco de Santa Catalina at Antigua, Guatemala
  • Indigenous women at Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala
  • Main archaeological site at Tikal, Guatemala
  • Stelas at Qurigua, Guatemala
  • Main archaeological site at Copan, Honduras
  • Pulhapanzak waterfall in Honduras
  • Basilica de Suyapa at Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Masaya volcano crater at Nicaragua
  • Panoramic view of Granada, Nicaragua
  • Old cathedral at Managua, Nicaragua
  • Hanging bridges at Monteverde, Costa Rica
  • Arenal volcano at Costa Rica
  • National Theatre at San Jose, Costa Rica

itinerary

Day 01
Arrive at Belize City, transfer to hotel, evening free, overnight at Belize City.

Day 02
Tour Belize City, which today remains the commercial capital of the country, In addition to other historic buildings, you will see the Supreme Court buildings flanked by cannons used in the Battle of St. George's Caye in 1798.Then you'll be driven 40 minutes up the Western Highway to Belize's wonderful natural wildlife habitat, the Belize Zoo, which gives you the unique opportunity of viewing Belize's prolific wildlife in one location. In the afternoon, we will be driven to San Ignacio for overnight.

Day 03
Today we will visit the Barton Creek Cave.  Glide through a remote underground water cave system in a canoe equipped with powerful spotlights. It is believed that the Maya once used this cave for ritual ceremonies. While canoeing by a local guide through the cave see large and colorful formations, skeletal remains and other cultural artifacts left behind by the Maya centuries ago.  Barton Creek is a large river cave over 4 miles long. The cave consists of giant passages covered with numerous large stalactites and stalagmites. These cave features have made it a popular Belize travel destination.  Artifacts found at Barton Creek Cave suggest that the cave was used for a variety of purposes by the Maya people including agricultural rituals, fertility rites, ritual bloodletting, and even human sacrifice. Archaeological excavations are ongoing.  After exploring the cave, visit the nearby Green Hills Butterfly Ranch where you will experience Belize’s biggest and best butterfly exhibit. The knowledgeable staff will present an excellent synopsis of the butterfly life cycle, but the main attraction is the enclosed flight area where scores of gorgeous tropical butterflies flutter around you; later we should return to san Ignacio for overnight.

Day 04
After breakfast, we are on our way to Guatemala, in route, we will tour Xunantunich Maya site, we will cross the Mopan River on a hand cranked ferry and proceed up a steep incline to the site. The excavated temple, El Castillo, is one of the highest structures in all of Belize and boasts an awe-inspiring view, a reconstructed frieze, a number of stele, and a ball court, Later, we continue onto Flores in Guatemala arriving late afternoon. Evening free and overnight.

Day 05
After breakfast, the tour continues with a one-hour drive until you reach Tikal, in its heyday 700 AD, Tikal was the capital of a vast Mayan empire. Today, the site is one of Guatemala's premier tourist attractions. Its unspoiled jungle setting makes it a special destination for discerning travelers, particularly archaeology enthusiast, naturalists and bird watchers; we will tour the ceremonial plazas and see the pyramids that rise above the forest canopy. Mid-afternoon we will head back to Flores, then, transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Guatemala City, departing at 8:00 PM arriving at 9:00 PM (time may vary on actual dates), upon arrival, transfer to your hotel, evening free, overnight at Guatemala City.

Day 06
In the morning we will have a brief city tour of Guatemala including the historic district and the center of government, in the afternoon, we will drive to Antigua Guatemala, the city founded in the early 16th century. Built 1,500 meters above sea-level, in an earthquake-prone region, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, but its main monuments are still preserved. Evening free, overnight at Antigua.

Day 07
In the morning, we will explore this beautiful colonial town, nestled in a valley surrounded by the peaks of three towering volcanoes. Over time, Antigua Guatemala became the most important city in Central America, adorned with monasteries, churches and other monuments built in the Spanish Colonial architectural style; we will have a chance to see both the restored buildings as well as those left as ruins, among the intricate buildings and interesting museums to be visited on the tour are the ornate La Merced church, the ruins of the Capuchinas convent and the San Francisco Cathedral, In the afternoon; rest of the day free to explore on your own or just relax. Overnight at Antigua

Day 08
Today we are driving to Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, here we will have a boat tour on Lake Atitlan and visit the communities along the shore like Santiago de Atitlan and San Juan Laguna, were we will find a Quiche Indian population that descend from the Mayas and walk around this colonial villages Evening at leisure and overnight at Panajachel.

Day 09
At 7:00 AM, drive to Chichicastenango, where we will enjoy the Indian market day, reputedly the largest outdoor market in Central America, it attracts buyers and sellers from near and far every Thursday and Sunday. A great variety of handicraft and souvenirs are for sale here, from colorful Mayan fabrics and ceremonial masks to genuine leather goods, jewelry and accessories; Also, we will have a chance to observe the Maya/catholic rituals that take place at the Santo Tomas church. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Sonsonate, El Salvador, arriving before sunset, here we will spend a couple of night to get some rest and gather our strength at an all-inclusive seaside resort.

Day 10
Day at leisure at Sonsonate.

Day 11
At 7:00 AM we drive to San Salvador, in route, visit to Joya de Ceren, declared world heritage by UNESCO in 1993 for being the only maya archaeological site where one can appreciate the day to day life style of the pre-Columbian inhabitants, due to the fact that all remains were well preserved, buried under the ashes of the volcanic eruption; then, we will explore the capital city of El Salvador, San Salvador, driving through the streets and avenues of residential and historical districts, we will first visit the David Guzman Museum of anthropology, we will pass Zona Rosa on our way to the Divino Salvador del Mundo monument at Plaza Las Americas, then, we will drive up to a viewpoint located in Planes de Renderos, allowing for a sweeping view of the city and surroundings. In the afternoon, we our heading to the Maya ruins of Copan in Honduras, we drive back into Guatemala briefly to enter Honduras via El Florido border station, arriving at Copan before sunset.

Day 12
In the morning, we will have a guided tour of the main archaeological site located just one mile away from town, here we will see the hieroglyphic staircase, the ball court, the main ceremonial plaza and its famous high relief carved stelas among many other structures; We will also visit the Museum of Maya Sculpture and museum of archaeology. Evening free and overnight at Copan

Day 13
No visit to Copan can be complete without a close encounter with the quarters of the royal families at “Las Sepulturas” site, we will end our Copan visit with a tour of the Macaw Mountain Bird park, afternoon drive to San Pedro Sula arriving around 6:00 PM.

Day 14
At 8:00 A.M.  We are on our way to central Honduras, admiring the green and mountainous scenery while we head to the capital city Tegucigalpa, in route, we will visit the impressive Pulhapanzak waterfall, we will have lunch at beautiful Lake Yojoa and also visit colonial former capital city Comayagua, where we will see the oldest functioning clock in the Americas. We will arrive in Tegucigalpa late afternoon, evening free and overnight.

Day 15
Tegucigalpa is not only the capital city of Honduras but further a colonial town of abundant history, we will enjoy a morning tour of both modern and colonial districts, the Basilica of Suyapa and a sweeping view of the metropolitan area at the foot of the giant figure of Christ located at Picacho hill. We will finish our tour visiting two charming old mining colonial towns, Santa Lucia and Valle de Angeles that are home to the local artisan’s school and many souvenir shops, midafternoon, drive south to the city of Choluteca, near the Nicaraguan border, for overnight.

Day 16
In the morning, we will enter Nicaraguan territory and shall arrive at the colonial city of Leon around noon, later, enjoy a city tour of Leon, explore the rich cultural and political history of one of Nicaragua's oldest and most influential cities, much of its charm lies in the narrow colonial streets, museums, restaurants and cafes. In this guided walking tour you will visit revolutionary murals, baroque and neoclassical churches including the Basilica de la Asuncion, surprisingly interesting Museum of Legends, arts and poetry and the Museum of Art Ortiz Gurdian, in addition, you will get to climb the rooftop of Central America’s largest cathedral and enjoy the amazing views over the city and surrounding Maribios Volcanic Chain. evening at leisure, overnight at Leon.

Day 17
Early morning, depart for Granada, in route driving tour of the capital Managua and Masaya Volcano National Park, arriving at Granada at noon, in the afternoon enjoy a carriage / walking tour of Granada, Granada is considered to be one of the oldest colonial cities in the Western hemisphere. On this guided walking tour, you will explore the San Francisco Church and neighboring San Francisco Convent built in 1529. Now functioning as a museum, the Convent is home to an impressive collection of pre-Columbian art. Continue on to the beautiful Merced Church where you will have the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower and take in spectacular views over the city, Lake Nicaragua, and Mombacho volcano; evening free. Overnight at Granada.

Day 18
Today we will enjoy a hiking tour of Mombacho volcano and Natural reserve, departing at 8:00 AM, we will reach the summit in about an hour by 4X4, Mombacho is truly one of the most imposing attractions of the country. The Volcano Natural Reserve is covered by exuberant nature, typical of the tropical rain forest and a singular dwarf forest where you will admire the flora and fauna as well as the majestic crater at an altitude of 1,345 meters above sea level, then, we will enter to Costa Rican territory, ending our day at Liberia, the second largest city in the country, where we will spend the night.

Day 19
After breakfast, we will drive to Monteverde natural reserve, here, we will take the sky tram / sky walk, spectacular combination of suspension bridges with easy and well maintained walking trails built in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and above the tropical forest canopy, enjoy the natural surroundings and relax. overnight at Monteverde.

Day 20
We will drive to the town of La Fortuna in northern Costa Rica, near Arenal Vocano National Park, we will take an informative, beautiful walk, you’ll learn about the behemoth Arenal Volcano, the secondary and primary tropical forest surrounding it and the interesting wildlife of the area. Once we finish the walk, we’ll head to a view point to see more of this famous volcano (note that the volcano has not been very active in the last few months but you can hear the volcano and often see flumes of gases), we will also visit La Fortuna waterfall before returning to town, late afternoon we will relax at the hot springs, overnight at La Fortuna.

Day 21
Today, we are on our way to San Jose, Costa Rica, we will have a chance to admire the beautiful scenery, arriving around noon, in the afternoon, we will take a city tour of San Jose, the tour immerses you in the rich Costa Rican culture and history by experiencing the beautiful museums and historical sites of San José. It begins with an orientation and drive through the beautiful Sabana Park. Next, visit the historic National Theater. Completed in 1897, the theater is a masterpiece in art and architecture. Afterwards we will visit one of the many unique museums of Costa Rica. We will continue heading to the University of Costa Rica, the Supreme Court and various sites of interest. A brief stop will be made in a beautiful art craft shopping store allowing you to browse through it before returning to your hotel, overnight at San Jose.

Day 22
In the morning, we will take the Pan-American Highway South, to start ascending the large “Iztaru”. The winding road travels through fertile lands cultivated with all kinds of vegetables as we observe a lovely panoramic view. At the top of the Irazu volcano you can observe the main craters and on a clear day both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be seen. As we descend to the city of Cartago we will stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica which according to religious custom is a peregrination site for many believers. return to San Jose midafternoon for overnight.

Day 23
At the appropriate time, we will drive you to the airport to catch your regional flight to Panama City, upon arrival transfer to your hotel, overnight at Panama City.

Day 24
Drive to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. From here we take a boat across Gatun Lake in the canal, passing gigantic cargo ships en route – an astonishing contrast with the natural surroundings. Along the way, we will have the opportunity to spot Green iguana and Three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, Crocodile, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock bass, Snail kite and Keel-billed toucan among other wildlife. We will return to the Hotel midafternoon, evening at leisure, overnight at Panama City.

Day 25
At 8:00 AM, we will enjoy a city tour, including, Panama Canal Miraflores locks, The Casco Antiguo district as well as those sites, streets and places of interest, transport yourself back in history as you visit France Plaza, Las Bovedas, and the Flat Arch; next, we will head to Amador Causeway, a man made connection of three islands, with an strong tourist development and from where you will have a breathtaking view of the city and have time to purchase from handicrafts to electronics in Duty Free stores; we will head to your hotel around noon, rest of the day at leisure, overnight at Panama City.

Day 26
Travel to Madden Lake and board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) to travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua. The boat journey takes us through the rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park and along the Chagres River, we may be able to spot Little Blue and Green Heron, Great Egret, Anhingas and kingfishers among otherspecies. At the Embera village we learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature, and have the chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a picnic lunch we visit the nearby waterfall where we can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River before heading back to Panama City for overnight.

Day 27
At 8:30am, we depart to Portobelo, founded in 1597 and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1980. It is located on a bay and is considered the most important and rich fortification of the colonial times. The canons, showing the importance of this defensive structure, can still be seen at the fort. The church 'San Felipe de Portobelo' is home to the Black Christ, patron saint of the region. The museum holds the general information of the colonial time. Today Portobelo has more than 3.000 inhabitants descendent from Afro-Caribbean slaves, which allows the visitor to experience the colorful lifestyle and, in the summer, the conga music in the central square at the old customs house. After lunch we take a 45 min. ride into the city of Colón, founded in 1853, with its many preserved historic features of Afro-Antillean culture, and take a brief tour of the Washington Walkway and the Central Ave., which in the Guinness Book of Records is considered the longest park in Latin America. At 4:30pm we head to the train station of Colón, from where we travel for about 1 hour alongside the canal through the heart of 'Soberania National Park', arriving in Panama City late afternoon. Pick and transfer to the hotel. 

Day 28
At the appropriate time, transfer to the Panama City's International airport.

For the above plan, you will need to acquire your international flights as follows:

Day 01: Arrive at Phillip Goldson International, Belize City, Belize (BZE)
Day 28: Depart out of Tocumen International, Panama City, Panama (PTY)

servicesincluded

- Hotel accommodations
- Breakfast daily
- Lunch at Tikal and Lake Yojoa
- All meals and local drinks at Sonsonate
- Domestic flight Flores (FRS) - Guatemala (GUA)
- Regional flight San Jose (SJO) - Panama City (PTY)
- Ground transportation
- English speaking guide
- Airport transfers
- Sightseeing tours listed
- Admissions
- Local guides
- Hotel taxes.

Not included: International flights, any meals not mentioned as included, airport taxes, gratuities to guides, drivers, porters or waiters and expenses of personal nature.

hotels

Superior accommodations

Belize City, Belize – Best Western Biltmore Plaza
San Ignacio, Belize – Mahogany Hall Boutique Hotel
Flores, Guatemala – Camino Real Tikal
Guatemala City, Guatemala – Westin Camino Real
Antigua, Guatemala – Camino Real Antigua
Panajachel, Guatemala – Hotel Atitlan
Sonsonate, El Salvador – Royal Decameron Salinitas
Copan, Honduras – Hotel Marina Copan (Premium)
San Pedro Sula, Honduras – Real InterContinental
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Hotel Marriott
Choluteca, Honduras – Hotel Hacienda Gualiqueme
Leon, Nicaragua – Hotel El Convento
Granada, Nicaragua – Hotel Plaza Colon
Liberia, Costa Rica – Hilton Garden Inn Liberia
Monteverde, Costa Rica – El Establo Mountain Hotel
La Fortuna, Costa Rica – Magic Mountain Hotel
San Jose, Costa Rica – Real Intercontinental
Panama City, Panama – Panama Marriott Hotel

Moderate accommodations

Belize City, Belize – Princess Hotel & Casino
San Ignacio, Belize – Midas Resort
Flores, Guatemala – Hotel Peten Esplendido
Guatemala City, Guatemala – Holiday Inn
Antigua, Guatemala – Hotel Las Farolas
Panajachel, Guatemala – Porta del Lago
Sonsonate, El Salvador – Royal Decameron Salinitas
Copan, Honduras – Hotel Marina Copan (standard)
San Pedro Sula, Honduras – Holiday Inn
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Holiday Inn
Choluteca, Honduras - Hotel Hacienda Gualiqueme
Leon, Nicaragua – Hotel La Perla
Granada, Nicaragua – Hotel Colonial
Liberia, Costa Rica – Best Western El Sitio
Monteverde, Costa Rica – Hotel Belmar
La Fortuna, Costa Rica – Tilajari Resort
San Jose, Costa Rica – Best Western Irazu
Panama City, Panama – Hilton Garden Inn

departuredates
2017
- September 2nd
- October 7th
- November 4th
- December 2nd
2018
- January 6th
- February 3rd
- March 3rd
- April 7th
- May 5th
- June 2nd
- July 7th
- August 4th
- September 1st
- October 6th
- November 3rd
- December 1st

*Guaranteed departures on the first Saturday of every month, throughout the year.
**This tour is also available on a private basis, for rates and details please inquire.

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Explore - Latin America Experts
TOLL FREE: 1-877-889-1510
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