|Original photo source|
After months of thinking about travel and saving all our money, we're six weeks out from backpacking through Central America and I couldn't be more excited. I literally woke up this morning thinking about Little Corn Island in Nicaragua with a smile on my face.
There's a lot of change going on in my life right now with finding new tenants, packing, painting, and moving out of our apartment. Thanks to my different schedule I've still been able to delve into planning the logistics of our trip, staying up late into the night until my neck cramps from being hunched over my travel research. Sometimes I get carried away and really go into the details, like finding out which bus companies offer which routes (Tica and Hedman Alas pop up frequently) and how much things cost ($5 USD for lunch or dinner is the norm). I can't help but feel the excitement build as our departure date grows nearer.
For my husband and I, this will be our first time travelling long-term together. We’ve had a bunch of conversations to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to travel style, budgeting, and the “feel” of the trip that we’re going for. I naturally like to be the planner so over the weekend I really got into our itinerary (which got the thumbs up from M).
- We want to travel to all seven countries in Central America (Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama)
- Length of travel: 3 - 3.5 months. We’ll purchase our return tickets on the road and see how we feel
- Even though we're backpacking and keeping to a budget, we’re still travelling as a couple and prefer private rooms when available
- We’d rather splurge on our activities than luxurious accommodations
- We’d prefer to support local guesthouses and companies
- We like museums, ruins, and volcanoes but we’re not obsessed about seeing, touring, or climbing them all
- We'll travel by bus and boat throughout the area
- Accommodations average $25 USD per night for private room and hot water bathroom
- Daily spending average $30 USD per person per day
Our Route Through Central America
Honduras ~ 1 month
We touch down in San Pedro Sula and immediately high tail it outta there on a direct bus to La Ceiba. The next morning we’ll take the ferry to the island of Utila and hang out for a month, completing our PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Certifications and exploring the sea with whale sharks (!!!!). Return to mainland Honduras and detour to La Moskitia to see wildlife in the Honduran jungle? Maybe. Then it’s a bus to Puerto Cortes and ferry to Placencia, Belize.
|The clear water of Caye Caulker in Belize / photo credit|
Arrive on the beaches of Placencia and Matthew will be in fishing heaven for a few days. Next we go to mainland Belize and meet my sister, who will be joining us on her spring break from university! We only have a week together, so we'll pick up the pace and head west to San Ignacio and Caracol to explore Mayan archaeological sites then spend a few days in Caye Caulker for scuba and snorkelling trips along the Barrier Reef.
Guatemala ~ 3 weeks
Tikal’s renowned pyramids and temples are a must-see on our list before going south to Guatemala City and onwards to Antigua. The colonial charm makes this town sound like the perfect place to slow down, take in the quaint cobblestone streets, and study some Spanish. If we’re really intense maybe head to Xela for a homestay with a local family? We’ll see. After that it’s west to Lago de Atitlan and perhaps south to Monterrico along the Pacific Coast. We might swing north to the border of Guatemala and Honduras to visit Copan Ruinas, but Matthew’s not too keen on this idea. He wants to head into El Salvador directly, in which case we’ll take a bus through the Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado / La Hachadura border crossing.
|The impressive jungle ruins of Tikal / photo credit|
At one point we considered skipping El Salvador, but the more I looked into this tiny country the more intrigued I became! In the west, we want to hike around Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, take a dip in the volcanic lake, Lago de Coatepeque, then bus northeast to trendy Suchitoto for a couple of days. We’ll stop in San Salvador to see the museums and get a peek of the capital city, then head south to the Pacific Coast. There we’ll chill out along La Costa del Balsamo before making our way eastward to Playa El Cuco and continuing by boat into Potosi, Nicaragua.
Nicaragua ~ 2 weeks
Things start to get significantly vaguer at this point -- I mean there’s only so much you can plan and I think I’ve exhausted all my brain power for the first half of our trip! We’ll likely visit the town of Leon for a day or two before going into the capital city of Managua. Will definitely be stopping in Granada before travelling east to the Caribbean Coast and taking a river taxi down the Rio Escondido. After that, it’s just a hop, skip, and jump away to the Corn Islands, a destination I’ve been excited to travel to for years!
|The undeveloped beaches of Little Corn Island via The World on a Toilet|
Prices in Costa Rica are at the steeper end of our backpacker budget so we won’t be staying here for too long. Hopefully we’ll make another trip another time, but for now I can say we want to boat through the canals of Parque Nacional Tortuguero to see the wildlife and (especially) lots of turtles. Then we’ll swing over to Monteverde or Santa Elena to literally stick our heads in the clouds in the surrounding cloud forests. Lastly, a quick stop in San Jose to catch a bus into Panama via the Sixaola / Guabito border crossing.
Panama ~ 10 days
Panama is the last country of the trip so we’d like to slow down a little bit and truly appreciate our surroundings. What other way to do that besides one last weekend at the beach! I can already hear the caribfunk music of Bocas del Toro calling my name! After visiting Boquete for a few days we’ll head to the islands in the Caribbean Sea for a few more before continuing east to Colon, the Panama Canal, and eventually Panama City itself. Matthew really hates crowded street festivals and neither of us are religious so we’ll likely fly out of the country before the Easter Weekend celebrations begin (and prices skyrocket throughout Central America).
Our Route on a Map
|original map source|
Any tips, tricks, suggestions, or questions to throw my way? Please let me know in the comments below.
(NOTICE: After travelling through Central America I wrote an updated post about the route I took. Check it out here!)