Transportation Budget for Two Months in CA?
Can anybody help give us a rough estimate on how much we should allot for transportation (not including airfare)? We're planning on making an average of about three or four stops per country, hopefully seeing the best of each. I realize this is kind of vague, but a vague answer is totally okay! I just have no idea if it would be like $100 or $500. For example, how much would a bus from Cancun to Antigua be?
Thanks so much!
P.S. I'm totally new to this and tried to search the past entries, so forgive me if this is repeated or too vague!
First of all, no there is no single ticket. As far as I know (although I've never tried to do it), you would have to go from Cancun to Chetumal. Then from Chetumal to Flores, and then from Flores to Antigua. But that would take like 26 hours... IF things went right! But most importantly you'd miss all sorts of great stuff in the middle!!
I think if you really have only 2 months and a tight budget, trying to cover great distances in CA (where things seldom run on schedule IF they run at all) and buying lots of bus tickets isn't the most pleasant or affordable way to spend a trip. Buses in Mexico will be a lot more expensive than CA, but they're faster and more reliable. Probably 100-200 Pesos to Chetumal. Belize will charge you $35 USD to leave the country each time, Geez. I don't know. Depending on the class of the bus (sometimes you DON'T have a choice) and all sorts of things like that, I think it's impossible to give an estimate. You could probably spend anywhere from $300-$700 pretty easily if you went to most of the places you mentioned... but that's without transport to Tikal, the water taxi to Caye Caulker, the side trip to Semuc Champey... yeah, I think you should either scale back or really try to find some more money to do the trip right. Traveling fast is expensive.
Anyway, hope that helps a little. Good luck!
I did a similar trip from Oct 25/08 - Dec30/08 staying in hostels travelling from Puerta Vallarta Mexico to Panama City using mostly 2nd class tourist buses like ADO, Rapidos del Sur, Tica, Panaline & David Panama with the odd chicken bus in Belize, Nicaragua & Costa Rica for a total of 6500 miles on buses.
Bus fares from Cancun to Antigua totaled US$125.00 I travelled this going Cancun - Chichen-Itza - Tullum - Chetumal via ADO on to Belize City on chicken bus as it left immediately after ADO arrived. Went to Caye Caulker for a coupe days which I highly recommend then by shuttle, which can be arranged at the water-taxi terminal, to Flores & Tikal then the night bus to Guatemala City & shuttle to Antigua.
Average cost for 72 days travel; bus, hostels, food, entrance fees & laundry was US$48.00/day & that included a beach weekend in El Salvador.
International routes tend to use buses a step up from the chicken buses. Very few buses run at night anywhere in Central America (although they are common in Mexico), so don't plan on covering too much ground in one day.
Buses in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are usually chicken buses. These are old Bluebird schoolbuses from the US working second careers in public transport. They are uncomfortable, ubiquitous, and very cheap at around a dollar per hour of travel (or less). Don't overestimate your endurance on these things - four hours is a very long time on a chicken bus. Most popular routes will have tourist shuttles too. These cost more, are more expensive, and will often have door-to-door service. This is definitely a plus if you're hitting the big/capital cities. Guatemala City's bus terminals in particular are located in Zona 1, a particularly dangerous and intimidating part of that awful city. San Salvador, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, and Managua are all unpleasant places too.
Honduras' buses tend to be better, and a bit more expensive too. Hedman Alas is the deluxe bus company here. A sample fare from Tela to San Salvador is over 700 lempiras - about $40 USD.
As for your question on Cancun to Antigua, ouch. I've done that before, in stages. It'll take you 7 hours to cross into Belize at Chetumal-Corozal crossing, another 5-6 to enter Guatemala at Melchor de Mencos, 2 more to Flores (where you'd be crazy not to stop and see the ruins at Tikal), 6-10 hours on bad roads to Guatemala City, and another hour to Antigua. You can arrange shuttles from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Tikal, but you'll pay for the convenience, and still have to pay $35 to leave Belize. There are all kinds of great sights between Cancun and Antigua, so it's best to take your time. There's another route possible too, avoiding Belize. Since it's primarily in Mexico, the bus fares will add up, but it's also a lot of fun. Wend your way down to Palenque from Cancun. From there, or San Cristobal, there are all kinds of backpacker shuttles for Guatemala - with either Xela or Antigua as their destination.
Sure chicken buses also service all places but are far from the only affordable buses available & my info is from personal experience in the past 4 months.
Executive-class buses are still the exception to the chicken bus norm in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. You're not going to take Hedman Alas or TicaBus from Guatemala City to Escuintla, or Leon to Ocotal, or Belize City to Dangriga. Those are almost exclusively for the international routes between major cities on the Pan-Am Highway.
Once you've done El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, you can head back up the eastern coast to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala and re-enter Belize via the water taxi from Barrios to PG, and head north to Cancun from there. There's a US$10 exit fee from Guatemala, the water taxi from Puerto Barrios to PG is US$20 - US$25, and the bus fare from PG to Belize City US$12.
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