Whether it's diving in Belize or venturing on an eco-trek in Costa Rica, you'll find answers to your questions on Central America travel here.

Time frame for central america?

Jbro33

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Tags: central america
  • Added on: May 18th, 2011
Hello everyone,

I am pretty new to traveling and this site. I am planning my first RTW adventure that I plan on taking in 2-3 years. In order to keep myself from getting overwhelmed I am planning one leg of the trip at a time.

Anyway, I am planning my first leg of the trip. I plan on starting in Belize and then working my way down to Panama before crossing into South America.

My first questions is what is a decent time frame for each country. Right now I am thinking

Belize 1-2 weeks
Guatemala 2-3 weeks
Honduras 1-2 weeks
Nicaragua 1-2 weeks
Costa Rica 2-3 weeks
Panama 1-2 weeks

I am debating if I want to stop in El Salvador or not. I have heard nothing but horrible things. I have friends who are from there, and friends who have travelled there and I never hear anything positive. Is this somewhere I should add? If so why?

So I am thinking 8-14 weeks in central america. I know it could take a lifetime to see everything, but is this a good time frame? Should I add more time or less time? I am interested in being a beach bum, surfing, hiking, bird watching and water sports in central america, maybe a language school.

I am not trying to plan too much in advance but I do want to plan timelines so I can work on a budget, after I plan where I want to go.

Also is public transportation easy between the countries? It seems silly to fly from country to country, but I am just curious, is it relatively cheap or should I budget for more expensive travel?

Ok I think that is all for now! thanks

Jbro33

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2011
PS I want to add I would like to travel for 2 years maybe 2.5 if I don't get to everywhere I want.

busman7

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2011
Seeing as you are interested in surfing it would be a pity to miss out on one of the 10 best surfing areas in the world, El Turnco etc in the area of La Libertad, El Salvador, just because some ill-informed friends don't know about it.

Once you get out of Belize where chicken buses & overcrowded vans are the norm, buses are comfortable & relatively cheap, of course the super cheap chicken bus is always an option when time doesn't matter.

Travel in all of CA, with the exception of Costa Rica is cheap. Would advise taking 2 of the weeks allotted to CR & using them exploring & surfing in El Salvador. One week is plenty for CR IMHO.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Bideshi

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2011
Seeing as you are interested in surfing it would be a pity to miss out on one of the 10 best surfing areas in the world, El Turnco etc in the area of La Libertad, El Salvador, just because some ill-informed friends don't know about it.

I agree. El Salvador was one of the best surprises for me in C.A.

Once you get out of Belize where chicken buses & overcrowded vans are the norm, buses are comfortable & relatively cheap, of course the super cheap chicken bus is always an option when time doesn't matter.

I disagree. Busman7 and I will continue to agree to disagree on the virtues and vices of Caye Caulker, but I didn't find the public transportation any less comfortable there than I did in Guatemala... but if comfortable travel is what you're looking for, then C.A. as a whole probably isn't for you :lol: Public transportation between countries is VERY easy in Central America. That is not going to be one of your worries in planning your trip.

Travel in all of CA, with the exception of Costa Rica is cheap. Would advise taking 2 of the weeks allotted to CR & using them exploring & surfing in El Salvador. One week is plenty for CR IMHO.

I agree. Costa Rica itself was beautiful, but expensive. And I don't think I've ever seen so many frat boys in Birkenstocks traveling around with Daddy's credit card in one place before. I was really put off by Costa Rica... but I'm grumpy. Others are free to disagree.

Here are my specific tips:

Study Spanish in Xela or San Pedro. It's unbelievably cheap ($100 - $150 per week for 1:1 lessons every day, a room with a host family, and your basic meals with them) and will make the rest of your time in C.A. a lot easier, even if you have a good level of Spanish. Most of the teachers would be thrilled to have an advanced student to chat with for a few hours a day about interesting things.

Spend much more time in C.A. than you have planned. It's a great place to travel. It's just difficult and different enough to be fascinating and challenging, and cheap enough to make it possible to stay a long time. All sorts of different climates, amazing history, world class attractions, and overall some of the most interesting places I've been anywhere in the world. Belize and Costa Rica will be more expensive than others, but if you just duck into those places for the highlights and spend most of your time in the cheaper countries, your overall trip will be the better for the experience! :D

busman7

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2011
Just to clarify my "comfortable" statement, I was referring to Tica bus on the country to country trips.

Was also being nice in giving a week to CR, personally 2 days in Liberia then the 3 hrs spent in the cesspool called San Jose waiting for the bus to Panama was all I ever want to see of Costa Rica!! :evil:
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Jbro33

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2011
Thanks! OK maybe I need to add El Salvador at least for a bit.

I guess I am planning on spending less time in CA due to the fact that it is pretty easy to get to especally from Texas (3 hour flight to Costa Rica) that I know I will probably become the regular beach bum there in the future.

Thanks for the advice. I think I have a time frame down for central america, and i have heard from numerous others that Belize and Costa rica are expensive so I will keep that in mind while planning. Thanks!

Piecar

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  • Added on: May 21st, 2011
El Salvador IS a good place to visit JBro...but beware. busman, he of the angry words and derisive comments, is a recent zealot of El Salvador and any place that ISN'T El Salvador is bad to him these days. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with lot's of beautiful places to see. There are great little surf towns to the south of Quepos, The Caribbean side is gorgeous, and the people are terrific and genuine. San Jose is a crummy town, there is no disputing it, slightly better than the dilapidated sty of San Salvador, and a hundred times better than BZE...though I've heard tell BZE is going through a gentrification recently.

My last visit to La Libertad was five years ago. But at the time, the place was a dump. There certainly was a surf community there...of the self congratulatory type that berated everyone who wasn't in the In Crowd for "dropping in" or wasting time, or getting in the way, or whatever. I don't surf, but it was tiring to listen to.

I don't think Suchitoto was mentioned here, yet. But that is a beautiful little town with a BEAUTIFUL lake and vista. Lots of places to walk and explore and it was cheap like ah da Borscht as well.

I wish you great travels down there. I love CA. I think you will too. Even the places outside of EL Salvador.

GLOT
D
Good Luck Out There.

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: May 22nd, 2011
Depends on what you want.

I'd give more weight to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. Belize is really expensive and less than Mexico. Costa Rica is confection of marketing, one of the most overrated places on the planet. Guatemala is artsy-fartsy culture and exotic backpacker sex; Nicaragua is edifying and cheap; Panama is Central America done good. El Salvador's okay, but a bit spendy and dodgy. Honduras is great for diving.

Don't overplan your trip.

Piecar

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  • Added on: May 23rd, 2011
He's got 3 weeks and wants to see Guat. You have him in Panama. It's unrealistic, or challenging.

I don't deny that Nicaragua is great, but it's out of his route. Nice plug of Panama...Again too far away.
Good Luck Out There.

busman7

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  • Added on: May 23rd, 2011
Have no idea what La Libertad was like 5 yrs ago but didn't seem dodgy the first time I visited 3 yrs ago & certainly isn't now.

That the area is rated in the top 10 surfing destinations in the world 8-) is a fact that can be Googled 8-) not merely my opinion.

Actually only 2 countries I have no use for Canada & Costa Rica!
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Piecar

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  • Added on: May 24th, 2011
True, busman. La Libertad IS on one of the Top 10 destinations, there is no denying. Touted far and wide. The place is famous, and rightly so(I say from my vista on the beach). This brings up-level surfers who can be snotty and off putting. Thanks for helping me with the point. If you are a mid-level surfer, or astute beginner, you're going to catch a lotta flak. The surfing community can be insular. If you're a tough iconoclast, or easy with making friends, you should go....But if you wanted a thing where you could go out and catch a wave and no one was gonna be snorting, I feel like this may not be the place. Busman's view of the town, by the by, is seen through the kind of Vaseline that Doris Day(Google her, kids) loved.

I enjoyed my time there, I really did. I enjoyed the fish market, and the rough hewn town. I have a blow up of the sign in the bar I frequented that said(translated to English) "Don't argue with guns in here." that I have on the wall. I just say it's not a cuddly beach town like, say Placencia, or Tamarindo.

Can't wait to meet you busman. I'm gonna be back down there in two months. Let's have a beer.
Good Luck Out There.

busman7

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  • Added on: May 25th, 2011
Piecar wrote:True, busman. La Libertad IS on one of the Top 10 destinations, there is no denying. Touted far and wide. The place is famous, and rightly so(I say from my vista on the beach). This brings up-level surfers who can be snotty and off putting. Thanks for helping me with the point. If you are a mid-level surfer, or astute beginner, you're going to catch a lotta flak. The surfing community can be insular. If you're a tough iconoclast, or easy with making friends, you should go....But if you wanted a thing where you could go out and catch a wave and no one was gonna be snorting, I feel like this may not be the place. Busman's view of the town, by the by, is seen through the kind of Vaseline that Doris Day(Google her, kids) loved.

I enjoyed my time there, I really did. I enjoyed the fish market, and the rough hewn town. I have a blow up of the sign in the bar I frequented that said(translated to English) "Don't argue with guns in here." that I have on the wall. I just say it's not a cuddly beach town like, say Placencia, or Tamarindo.

Can't wait to meet you busman. I'm gonna be back down there in two months. Let's have a beer.


You described La Libertad better than I have "rough hewn", where a haircut is only a dollar, you can buy your fruit & veggies off the back of a truck & the walk in medical clinic is free even for us gringos & has the best doctor I have seen in years. The fish market is great & the guns become a natural part of the scenery after a while. Definitely not a "cuddly" beach town, just a town where real people live + a high priced malecon for the tourists.

As I don't surf have never hung out with that crowd, just the dreary Canadian X-pats but tend to believe your description of the surfing community as that's only human nature.

Would love to have a beer with you but will have to take a rain-check as, unfortunately in 2 months will be in Cambodia getting some experience as a TEFL teacher (pay for English teachers in CA stinks) but feel free to check out my B&B, you will need a bit of Spanish though, maybe spend a quiet night or go down the road to El Roble where there's a good chance of a party.

Presently spending 2 weeks in purgatory in Bowmanville ON waiting for an auction sale to sell my Checker before heading to Bangkok then on to Phnom Penh.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain



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