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Central America Recommendations and Raves

Nath_160

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  • Added on: February 21st, 2007
My main suggestion would be to go to El Salvador. Period. Even with a week to spare you could take in the pacific beaches, beautiful lakes, and superb colonial towns - such as suchitoto.
Before i go there i had reservations due to reports of danger - but you can only speak as you find - and we didn't find that whatsoever. The people were inquisitive, helpful, kind, and extremely friendly.
we were going to visit for maybe a week and ended up staying for the best part of a month - it really is a wonderful place. Go there and you will see. I have written an article on an excursion we did there, just follow the link to my website and have a read. It was a truly crazy tour!
regards,

nath
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brokerdt

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  • Added on: March 4th, 2007
I'm going to guatemala in 10 days (wa-hoo!). brief description = i'll see tikal, antigua and spend a couple of days fishing out of iztapa. this is my first visit to guatemala and wondered if there were any last minute suggestions out there.

encor

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  • Added on: March 5th, 2007
how many days total do you have? it would be cool if you had time to see rio dulce as well.....
life is a trip

brokerdt

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  • Added on: March 6th, 2007
6 days in country this trip, but will be going back. a quick glance on the internet makes rio dulce look inviting. do you recommend near the lake? how did you travel to get there?

phillipao

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  • Added on: April 21st, 2007
i second the nebaj recommendation. it's in lonely planet but is considerably less touristed than the big gringo trail. it's part of the ixil triangle, home to the ixil maya. trekkers have been coming here for forty years or so, and there are established trails with great stuff to see anywhere from two hours' to four days' walking. this is _the_ best place to talk to people about the war, because absolutely everyone here was affected.

what the guide books don't say is that there's a massive road improvement project going on, and it's getting much easier to travel here. we traveled from lago atitlan on chicken buses easily in a day, and on a shuttle to coban in about six hours, both of which lp says are impossible.

GlobalGeek

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  • Added on: May 8th, 2007
I just came back from trip to Costa Rica and had an awesome time. My favorite place by far was Playa Samara. It's a small beach town located on the Pacfic coast in the Guanacaste region. It's not flooded with tourists like Jaco and Tamarindo but it's got just enough amenities to get you by. The beach is unbelievable and the surf is great for beginners as well.

I ran into this guy who was running a volunteer organization in the area called Volunteer Visions and I ended up teaching English at one of the local schools for 2 weeks and ended up meeting so many locals and had a great homestay family.

Definitiely visit Samara if you are passing through Costa Rica. You'll be blown away.

Karin AK

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  • Added on: September 23rd, 2007
For any of you single female travelers, I have a few raves in Guatemala and Belize.

Gua City - yes, its considered very dangerous but I liked it and stayed in Zone 1 and even went out at night. I loved the Posada Belen http://www.posadabelen.com/ because its very safe and on a quiet street. Francesca and Rene are fluent in many languages, friendly and great hosts. Francesca has booked travel for over 30 years and she managed to always get me the best rooms in all the hotels. The small hotel has 11 rooms and is very popular. It is run by 4 men ranging from 35-55 years and Juan is a great chef. The hotel was a home and museum and still has lots of artifacts around. The room rate is $30 to $40 (family) and you can eat 3 meals if needed.

Flores, Gua - I loved this island and loved staying on the top floor of the Caza Azul for only $30. I could see the sunrise and sunset from the rooftop terrace. Take a bus to the villages of San Andres and San Jose. I swam across the lake too. Tikal is nearby at only an hour but I recommend staying at the Jungle Lodge there for a few days. Francesca Belen can arrange all your tours for Gua and Belize.

Belize - Take the 4 hr bus from Flores to Belize City and then take the boat to Caye Caulker. I liked staying at the Tropics hotel and the rooms ranged from $10 to $50 and the beach is across the street. No cars allowed on Caye Caulker but you can rent a bike for $30 per week. Eat dinner at Wish Willys which is owned by a renowned chef Maurice. Swim at the Split and have drinks at the Lazy Lizard. Make sure and take the crazy all day boat tour with Raz Creek. He will take you out for 5-6 hours and give you fresh fruit, rum punch, amazing creole lunch and snorkling with Stingrays and sharks. Only $35 but tell him that Karin from Alaska sent you and see if you get a discount.
Karin, an Alaskan working in Durango, CO

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Amy's Tribe

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  • Added on: October 9th, 2007
Ok maybe I'm the odd man (woman) out - but I love traveling in El Salvador. I've had great fun in San Salvador, love Santa Ana and have had some great trips to La Union. It certainly isn't as touristy as Guatemala or Costa Rica, but I've been there many times and highly recommend it if you like something out of the norm!

zoomcharlieb

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  • Added on: November 5th, 2007
Tikal is cool, Flores is really mellow and beautiful, I think Rio Dulce is over-rated but really enjoyed Lago De Atitlan, especially Santiago De Atitlan. My persoanl favorite was Mirador about 50 miles into the Petain, but that will take you about 5 days out of Flores via Carmelita, but it is a trip you will never forget.

Louisghiker

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  • Added on: December 6th, 2007
Guatemala City
Guatemala city gets a bad rap, mainly from people who haven't been for more than two hours. I lived there and loved it.
Start with zona 10 where you can stay at Xamanek, a wonderful, superclean and safe hostel or the Stofella Hotel for $50usd & up. Zona 10 is where you can walk to two of the best museums: Ixchel for traditional clothing and Popol Vuh for archeology. You can also walk to some of the country's best restaurants, bars and discos and confidently walk back home past midnight.
I'm not saying you should spend a week but give it two days and then join the tourists in Antigua.

Why not???

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  • Added on: February 6th, 2008
Just been up in central america recently, here are my highlights!

Antigua, Guatamala - just loved it, spent two weeks learning spanish, Pacaya is a must do experience and check out Rikis bar on Wed (or maybe thurs) to see ignacio from Buena Vista Social Club play, amazing stuff!

Livingston, Guat - If you wanna party, and I mean party, not just get drunk or dance, get to Casa del Iguana, run by Rusty, an ex Stripper from England, you´ll have a ball, you´ll prob hear about it from someone if your within 500miles of the place!

El Roble hostel, San Diego, El Salvador - Run by Darren Clarke out of Antigua, proper family run place, will do tours and sort transport from antigua - if you want to get in touch let me know, if not look out in rileys bar, antigua!

La Ceiba, Honduras - Omega tours, german run, great sausages and even better rafting trips!

Tikal - stay in Los Amigos for the best smoothies in Flores, then get to tikal for sunrise, its the god damn ewok village, do you need much more!

Bocas Del Toro, Panama - surf dive or just get pissed and eat street meat, either way you´ll have fun!

Leon, Nicaragua - Bigfoot Hostel, they do volcano boarding...seriously, boarding down a live volcano, how cool is that! plus the lasagne is a must, but give darren the owner a slap, stupid aussie bugger!haha

Poptun, Guat - Finca Ixobel, gorgeous working farm just south from flores, so chilled, great food, great caving, and by all accounts the horseriding was ace too!

Technically south america, but Capurgana, Colombia, just over the border in the dreaded Darien Gap, you can fly from panama city to a town near the border (panama side) then get a boat, untouched jungle, we stayed with Joey Silver at Cabinas Darius, great guy, will sort tours up to 6days horseback for $15 a day, highly recommended for those headed south!

Any more info just shout!!!

Pete

cherie

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  • Added on: February 23rd, 2008
Dominical, Costa Rica

1. Great place to learn how to surf. All sorts of super rad individuals teach it. I never thought I would like surfing and didn't plan on trying it at all; I am now looking to buy a surfboard!!!!
2. Day trips to Corcovado National Park, horseback riding at waterfalls.
3. Hiking in Hacienda Baru.
4. Kayaking on the river. (I haven't done it but I have friends who did and LOVED it.)
5. Quiet beach.
6. Nightlife is so-so, can be fun at certain times.
www.worldofcherie.blogspot.com

cienfuegitos

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  • Added on: February 27th, 2008
Just got back from a great stay on Isla de Ometepe.

My partner and I happened upon an organic farm just outside of Balgue that is just opening up a camping area, along with a great little cottage.

The place is called Casa Campestre, and is totally off the map, so it's a great place for people who want a little peace and quiet. Or for those who want to get away from it all and spend some time surrounded by urracas (giant local blue jays) and howler monkeys.

We called ahead and asked if we could come by and take a look at the camping grounds, and the owners - Ben and Sarah - readily obliged.

The tour, to say the least, was fantastic. The farm is totally organic, and employs all local labor, though the owners are no slouches themselves.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The camping ground has several beautiful platforms, made out of adobe, with thatch roofs. There is an outdoor, open-air kitchen area, with gas stove, sink, and a cooler. We paid $7 US each to camp, which is normally a bit steep for us. However, they provided a very good tent, toilet paper, unlimited filtered drinking water, a nice foam mattress, clean bedding, pillows, free access to cookware in the kitchen (and gas to cook) and some free herbs we picked ourselves.

In all honesty, the views alone are worth it, as you are situated just below Volcano Maderas, and have clear views of Lake Nicaragua and Volcano Concepcion.

Ben and Sarah are committed to running a green campground. Lovely composting latrines (also adobe) have handcarved seats and absolutely no scent, other than that of fresh cedar woodchips. Grey water from the kitchen sink is used to water a nice patch of herbs.

There's an outdoor shower, the beginnings of a great permaculture inspired garden (with free fresh veggies, herbs, and medicinal plants being a future bonus,) and one hell of a nice firepit.

Basic supplies are available for purchase directly from the campsite, though they thoughtfully included a good sized portion of coffee, tea, salt and sugar to get us started.

More luxurious goods (including local honey, fresh wheat bread, olive oil, cold beer, wine, and much more) are also available, and a convenient price list is right in the camp kitchen.

Did I mention you can order food prepared by Ben and Sarah?

We had a meal of fresh lake fish, prepared in an excellent curry, all with veggies, spices and herbs from the farm, that was to die for. They are excellent cooks, and even better hosts.

You can feel the excitement this couple has for their land. They were never intrusive, but were always eager to talk about the work they are doing if pressed.

Although we stayed in the camping area, we got to tour the cottage, which is also stunning.

Again, the place is just opening, but it feels like Ben and Sarah have been running it lovingly for years.

Casa Campestre has a website, but it's a bit basic and really doesn't do them justice: http://www.ometepe.info

Call: 695 2071 (local) 505 695 2071 (international)
Email: fincacampestre at googlemail.com

rpbroz

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Joined: June 17th, 2007
Location: Suchitoto, El Salvador

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2008
Suchitoto, El Salvador, I have made it home and most travelers fall in love with this small colonial town. There are now 3 very nice hotels, several mid range hotels and hostels and 3 hostels under $10/night.
For me the best thing to do is to sit in or around the central plaza in the late afternoon and see how it fills up with the locals, the kids playing ball, the elders sitting on the benches talking. There are now several rural initiatives that offer eco touristic and war history tours(hike, boat rides and horseback rides.
So if your thinking about visiting El Salvador you have to visit Suchitoto. If coming feel free to write and ask me about specifics on eating, lodging and things to do in and around town.
Saludos
Robert Broz
Life is short, enjoy it while you can.
http://www.theotherelsalvador.com

Jerry Blakeslee

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  • Added on: May 10th, 2008
Just returned from Antigua, Guatemala, after visiting Tikal and Atitlan. Drove all the way, roads for the most part very good, except Chimaltenango to Panajacel which is under construction. If driving, it is best to go to Antigua first from Guate and then on a good - but very winding - road to Panajacel. We splurged on the final day and stayed at the Panza Verde hotel in Antigua. A first class place, nice decor, verdant garden interior and an excellent restaurant. Double room with 2 beds $98.00usd including tax was very reasonable considering the quality of the hotel.


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