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Central America Recommendations and Raves

traveler68

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  • Added on: September 15th, 2008
I the opportunity to study abroad in Puerta Vallarta for a semester last year. I went through Via Spanish I definitely recommend them they are hepful and reasonably priced.

birdingcraft

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  • Added on: September 20th, 2008
The closest rain forest to San Jose, Costa Rica is also one of the wildest; Braulio Carrillo National Park. It is also one of the most accessible and can be easily done as a day trip from San Jose with public transportation.

There are two sectors with easy access:
1. Zurqui in cloud forest and
2. Quebrada Gonzalez in lowland/foothill forest.

Both sites are located in wild, beautiful primary forest and have ranger station and trails. The Zurqui sector has at least one poorly maintained trail while Quebrada Gonzalez has two sets of well-maintained trails.

Although wildlife viewing is always tough in rain forest, you might see monkeys, peccaries and other animals in the lowland sector as well as many bird species. Quetzals occur in the highland sector.

Getting there and away: Take any bus to Guapiles from the Caribenos bus station and tell the driver to drop you at Quebrada Gonzalez(50 minutes) or tell him to stop when you see the Zurqui ranger station on the right(20 minutes). The bus costs around $2US. The ranger stations are open from 8-4 but they usually dont have any problem with people entering earlier and paying entrance fees later. Entrance fees have unfortunately jumped to $10 per day.
To get back to San Jose, flag down every passing bus until one stops.
my Costa Rica blog:http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress

jet-set jules

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  • Added on: September 24th, 2008
Panama, Panama, Panama. I spent a month backpacking there this summer and could not have loved this country more. It's still not on many tourists' radar, so you avoid high prices and crowds, but get all the beauty. Imagine Costa Rica 20 years ago. Great people, great food, great beaches. And you can still do it comfortably on $20/day.
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thomf

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  • Added on: September 24th, 2008
We live in Fiarbanks, AK and are going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua from Dec10 to Jan15. While I have been to Sri Lanka a couple of times I never had to deal with this question - what kind of light jacket should we take? Goretex, windbreaker, water proof/water resistant? Help. Thank you

kcweimer

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  • Added on: September 29th, 2008
As I recall, I took a light gortex jacket with a hood. We were there in August (interpret as hot and wet) and don't think I wore it much. We mostly dressed to dry quickly as opposed to staying dry - mostly fishing shirts and shorts.
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Karin AK

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  • Added on: September 30th, 2008
Last year I took the bus from Flores, Gua over to Belize city. When you cross the border the Gua guards will ask you for a departure tax. I speak spanish but just acted dumb and ignored them. Half the people on the bus paid the bribe and I cannot remember if it was more than $5.

The bus drops you off at the boat terminal and I only spent 10 min in the city. I headed out to caye caulker and I will be heading there soon - Dec. 14 to Jan 17th this year.
Karin, an Alaskan living in Barrio Hollywood, Tucson, AZ

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Karin AK

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  • Added on: September 30th, 2008
if anyone has read Conrad's book Heart of Darkness; get a group of people to spend a few days in Aguateca, Gua. There is a nice resort near there that I stayed on a small island by itself. Howler monkeys are right over your cabana on stilts. But the boat ride in reminded me of that book. I caught the boat from Sayache and you can find many boatmen to take you. I used my boatman as my tour guide on Aguateca and he spoke perfect spanish with no slang so I was ok. There was one other tourist on Aguateca and we had that big place to ourselves. Great jungle experience.
Karin, an Alaskan living in Barrio Hollywood, Tucson, AZ

~ There is more to life than increasing its speed ~ Ghandi

Karin AK

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  • Added on: November 11th, 2008
Caye Caulker to do list --
when you get off the boat and walk down the dock in CC, you will be met by a friendly garifuna guy named Frederick (I think). He drives a large tricycle with a basket and will offer you a ride to a hotel that has a room. He is not part of a scam but just a nice guy who makes a great ambassador for the island. He does not have a set price and asks for donations.

For the best food on CC, I recommend lunch at Rainbows that hangs over the water and dinner at Maurice's who owns Wish Willy. Maurice was born in CC but left for the USA and was a Chicago stockbroker that made it big and then came back to CC to be a chef and runs boat tours. HE serves caribbean food with an asian twist. I call him the Ginger King cuz that is his fav spice.

IF you want to know what a Wish Willy is - see Raz Creek who captains the best boat deal. He charges $40 for all day and provides snack, lunch, rum and snorkling with sharks and rays. You will see what a Wish willy is when he flips over a shark. He takes his boat all around the island and gives a great intro tour of the island. You can find Raz down at the bar - Lazy Lizard on the Split.
Karin, an Alaskan living in Barrio Hollywood, Tucson, AZ

~ There is more to life than increasing its speed ~ Ghandi

travlndude

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  • Added on: December 11th, 2008
[B]Playas del Coco, Costa Rica[/B)
I really like this beach town in north west Costa Rica, Guanacaste, which is a laid-back, cheaper alternative to the "gold-coast" beaches farther to the south. A small fishing town with a long beach, Playas del Coco is close to several other nice beaches -- Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama, Ocotal.. -- as well as various dive spots. It also has decent nightlife, and is popular with Costa Rican vacationers, which makes if a better place to meet locals than Tamarindo. I stayed at El Oasis, the only backpackers place, which was clean, friendly, near the beach and bars. Playas del Coco is about an hour from Liberia, the provincial capital, and just a few hours from the border with Nicaragua, which makes it a good stop if you're travelling between the countries. Check it out.

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: December 17th, 2008
quote:
Originally posted by Karin AK:
if anyone has read Conrad's book Heart of Darkness; get a group of people to spend a few days in Aguateca, Gua. There is a nice resort near there that I stayed on a small island by itself. Howler monkeys are right over your cabana on stilts. But the boat ride in reminded me of that book. I caught the boat from Sayache and you can find many boatmen to take you. I used my boatman as my tour guide on Aguateca and he spoke perfect spanish with no slang so I was ok. There was one other tourist on Aguateca and we had that big place to ourselves. Great jungle experience.


I'm not able to find either of these places on google maps. can anyone point me in the right direction?

ETA: I also can't find Caye Caulker. Smile

Thanks!
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

a601mom

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  • Added on: December 22nd, 2008
Aguateca is in the Peten area- south of Tikal.

Caye Caulker is off the coast of Belize- east of Belize City
"What happens in Central America, will happen, when it happens and if it happens"

kcweimer

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  • Added on: January 16th, 2009
Thanks for the post on Aguateca. What is the name of the resort? Aquateca has been on our radar for a future trip.
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Chels

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  • Added on: January 26th, 2009
Hello BootsnAll! Just wanted to make a recommendation for those looking for a Central America eco resort. La Cocotera Resort (http://www.lacocoteraresort.com) is a beautiful eco resort in El Salvador. It's an all-inclusive place and the bungalows are on the beach. If any of you are considering visiting El Salvador I would say that this is a place worth checking out :)

panamahammock

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  • Added on: March 5th, 2009
I live in a village of 140 people and they are interested in hosting tourists for $10 a night. The Guide books have nothing for this area. In the village of Malena, you can rent a room, rent a hammock, camp inthe woods, camp on the beach, rent a bed.... all types of accomodations.

Nobody has signs up - just ask the guy at the store. There is only one store.

To get here: Get on the bus in Santiag marked :Santiaggo - Mariato. Tell the driver you are going to Malena $3. You cant buy beer here, so get it across the street from the bus station in Santiago. This place is really safe, no worries at all. Waterfalls, hiking, snorkeling, fishing, boats. Im not an owner, just trying to help my neighbors. There are no tourists here, but they want a few. :D

minnieapples

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  • Added on: June 29th, 2009
I am so happy to see so many recommendations for El Salvador already here! It's a small country that has an undeservedly bad rap as being unusually dangerous, so it's easy to skip unless you know better.

If you are in the small town of Berlin, ES, look for the coffee roastery roasting beans from a local fair trade coffee finca. It is hands down the best coffee I have ever had in my life. For a country that produces such amzing coffee, most of what you will find in restaurants or otherwise for sale is pretty terrible--the good stuff tends to be exported. But Don Justo coffee is delicious, and is part of an important community development project for the region.

In Suchitoto (already recommended above, rightfully so) eat at Restaurant La Fonda El Mirador. Beautiful setting, good food, friendly waitstaff. Try the ensalada, a fruit juice drink with chopped up fruit bits in it.

And anywhere in El Salvador, you should try the pupusas. I can't make them to save my life, and I wish I could.


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