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Playa del Carmen to San Jose

This 35 day overland tour journeys from Playa del Carmen to San Jose through Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua

Latin America
  • Duration: 35 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: LZCN1/235646
  • Starts: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  • Finishes: San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Tulum
  • Chichen Itza
  • Caye Caulker
  • San Ignacio
  • Tikal
  • Poptún
  • Rio Dulce
  • San Andres Itzapa
  • Chichicastenango
  • Lake Atitlan
  • Panajachel
  • Antigua
  • Cerro Verde National Park
  • Suchitoto
  • Copán
  • Roatán
  • Lake Yojoa
  • León
  • Granada
  • Masaya National Park
  • Ometepe Island
  • La Fortuna
  • Monteverde
  • San Jose

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Playa del Carmen

Border information: if joining in Playa Del Carmen, you will most likely enter Mexico at Cancun International Airport (IATA code CUN).

There will be an important group meeting at 18:00 at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

In Playa del Carmen we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

02

Day 2: Tulum

Today we will have an early start to drive to the world-famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World - we have an included guided tour around this spectacular site before continuing our drive to the stunning coastal village of Tulum.

In Tulum we will camp in a basic campsite near to the Mayan ruins.

Estimated Drive Time - 2 hours.

03

Day 3-4: Caye Caulker

Border information: Exit Mexico at Subteniente L pez, enter Belize at Santa Elena.

Today we will have an early start to travel south across the border to Belize City, where we board a speed boat to the island paradise of Caye Caulker.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

We will have a full day of free time to explore and enjoy some optional activities available here, such as snorkelling, diving or taking a scenic flight over the phenomenal Great Blue Hole.

In Caye Caulker we will stay in a local hotel.

04

Day 5-6: San Ignacio

Today we will head back to the mainland and rejoin the Dragoman Bus in Belize City. We then have a short drive to the village of San Ignacio, home to Belize's best archaeological sites and adventure activities!

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Tomorrow we have time to take part in some optional activities available in San Ignacio, including trekking, caving, biking, and exploring the excellent Mayan ruins in the area.

In San Ignacio we will stay in a forest eco-lodge.

05

Day 7: Tikal

Border information: Exit Belize at Benque Viejo del Carmen, enter Guatemala at Melchor de Mencos.

Today we will have a short drive across the Guatemalan border to the phenomenal Mayan ruins of Tikal, where we have an included guided tour.

In Tikal we will camp at a basic campsite close to the ruins.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

06

Day 8-9: Poptún

Today we have a short drive to the small town of Popt n, stopping in the colonial town of Flores en route. We will arrive at our fantastic eco-lodge near Popt n and have a free afternoon.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

On the following day we will have free time to take part in the many optional activities offered at our eco lodge.

In Popt n we will camp at an eco-lodge on a working Guatemalan ranch.

07

Day 10: Rio Dulce

Today we will have a short drive to Rio Dulce in Guatemala's beautiful central region. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to take part in some optional activities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

In Rio Dulce we will stay in an eco-lodge.

08

Day 11: San Andres Itzapa

Today we will drive day to San Andres Itzapa, a small village located in the mountains around Antigua. We will spend one night at the community centre of Manos Amigas, run by the Italian NGO 'Mani Amiche' in support of local women who have been abandoned and abused, and who are staying in the centre with their children.

In San Andres Itzapa we will stay in dormitories at the community centre (please note that there is no option to upgrade to private accommodation here).

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

09

Day 12-13: Chichicastenango

Today we will spend the morning at the Manos Amigas project before heading off on a short drive to Panajachel, situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

On the following day we will have free time to enjoy some optional activities such as a boat trip on the lake, to some of the small villages along the shoreline. If possible, we will include a visit to the famous Chichicastenango Market during these days, depending on the weekday. Please note that the market is only open on Thursdays and Sundays so you may not be able to visit during your trip.

In Panajachel we will stay in a nice local hotel.

10

Day 14: Antigua

Today we will have a short drive to the magnificent city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 60 kms from Guatemala City.

The rest of the day is free to explore the beautiful colonial city and its dramatic surroundings.

In Antigua we will stay in a delightful colonial hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

11

Day 15: Antigua

Border information: if joining in Antigua, you will most likely enter Guatemala at Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport (IATA code: GUA).

There will be an important group meeting at 18:00 at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

The rest of the day is free to explore the beautiful colonial city and its dramatic surroundings, and to take part in some optional activities. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Antigua before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Antigua.

In Antigua we will stay in a delightful colonial hotel.

12

Day 16: Antigua

We have a free day to enjoy Antigua, take a day trip into the National parks, go hiking or visit a coffee plantation.

13

Day 17: Cerro Verde National Park

Today we will cross the border into El Salvador and drive to the stunning Cerro Verde National Park, where we will be surrounded by awe-inspiring volcanoes and countryside. In the morning we will have will take a guided trek up the nearby Santa Ana volcano (approximately 4 hours).

In Cerro Verde National Park we will camp with basic facilities.

Border information: Exit Guatemala at Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado, enter El Salvador at La Hachadura.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

14

Day 18-19: Suchitoto

After our trek up the volcano, we will drive to the beautiful town of Suchitoto, where we will some time to explore the town, with its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, and to learn about the incredible work of the Dragoman-supported community centre in which we stay.

In Suchitoto we will stay in dormitory rooms at the Centro Arte Para La Paz community centre, which runs many programs for the local communities to build cultural identity, unity, teaching skills, self-sufficiency, environmental equality and a culture of peace.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On Day 4 we will have a day to explore Suchitoto, have a guided walking tour of the town, head out on a sunset boat trip or take a day trip to San Salvador.

15

Day 20-21: Copán

Border information: Exit El Salvador and enter Guatemala at Anguiat . Exit Guatemala and enter Honduras at El Florido.

Today we will have a full day drive to Honduras, arriving at the small village of Cop n.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.

On the following day we will visit the spectacular Mayan ruins of Cop n, followed by a free afternoon to explore some of the other highlights in the area.

In Cop n we will stay in a local hotel.

16

Day 22-23: Roatán

Today we will drive to the town of San Pedro Sula and board a short local flight to Roat n, the largest of the famous tropical Bay Islands. On arrival we will transfer to the area of the West End Bay, where we base ourselves for our stay.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The following day we have some free time to take part in optional activities and of course to relax and swim on the stunning Caribbean beaches here!

In Roat n we will stay in a local hotel near the beach.

17

Day 24: Lake Yojoa

Today we will start early to transfer back to Roat n's airport and catch our flight back to the mainland, rejoining the Dragoman Bus! We will then continue our journey east through Honduras to the beautiful countryside of Lake Yojoa

In Lake Yojoa we will camp for the night in the grounds of a lodge and brewery.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

18

Day 25-26: León

Today we have a big drive day across the border to Nicaragua.

Approximate Drive time - 550km / 12 hrs

The following day we will have free time to explore the town's wonderful colonial architecture or to take part in the many optional activities available here.

In Le n we will stay in a centrally-located hotel.

19

Day 27: Granada

Today we will take a short drive to Nicaraguas's oldest city of Granada, a beautiful town which oozes with colonial charm! En route we will have an included visit to the traditional markets in the small town of Masaya, and witness the incredible active caldera of the nearby Masaya volcano (if its volcanic activity isn't too high).

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

In Granada we will stay in a centrally-located hostel, which has a mixture of private and dormitory rooms.

20

Day 28-29: Ometepe Island

This morning we drive to the small town of San Jorge on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake. Here we will board a ferry to the stunning volcanic island of Ometepe, where we base ourselves in the port village of Moyogalpa and enjoy free time to explore on arrival.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

On the following day we will have free time to explore and take part in optional activities such as the challenging trek to the summit of the Concepci n volcano that dominates the island, or seeing some of the mysterious ancient petroglyphs that are dotted through the landscape.

On Ometepe we will stay in a small local hotel.

21

Day 30-31: La Fortuna

Border information: Exit Nicaragua at Pe as Blancas, enter Costa Rica at Pe as Blancas.

Today we will take an early morning ferry back to San Jorge and drive to La Fortuna in Costa Rica, a stunning town under the shadow of the mighty Arenal volcano.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to take optional treks through the incredible surrounding volcanic landscapes or forest canopies, or get involved in many different adventure activities such as zip-lining, white-water rafting, and canyoning. La Fortuna is also famous for its outstanding hot springs, which we will have the opportunity to visit.

In La Fortuna we will stay in excellent cabanas outside of town.

22

Day 32-33: Monteverde

Today we will leave our overland vehicle behind and transfer by taxi and boat into the dense cloud forests and coffee plantations of Monteverde, a stunning area offering an incredible diversity of flora and fauna.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

On the following day we will have an included guided walk on the trails of the Monteverde Cloud Forest National Reserve, followed by a free afternoon to visit some of the town's highlights or enjoy some adventurous activities such as canyoning or horse riding.

In Monteverde we will stay in a local hotel.

23

Day 34: San Jose

Today we will drive to the vibrant city of San Jose, where you have time to explore the historic neighbourhoods, visit some of the museums or galleries and enjoy some live music.

Expected drive time: 150km / 4-5hrs

In San Jose we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

24

Day 35: San Jose

Border information: If you are leaving Costa Rica today, you will most likely exit Costa Rica at Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO).

Today is the final day of our journey. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Visit the spectacular Chichen Itza Mayan ruins on a guided tour, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World centred around the world-famous pyramid of El Castillo
    • Enjoy a guided tour of the phenomenal Mayan ruins of Tikal, one of the greatest ancient sites in the world
    • Spend a night at the Manos Amigas community project, a centre which has been set up to support local women and their children
    • Visit the spectacular volcanic landscape of Cerro Verde National Park, one of El Salvador's gems
    • Spend the night at the wonderful community centre of Centro Arte Para La Paz in Suchitoto, which runs many workshops and projects for the locals in the area
    • Enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent ancient Mayan ruins of Copán
    • Visit the dramatic crater rim of the active Masaya volcano between León and Granada
    • Visit the traditional markets in Masaya village, famous for its local handicrafts
    • Take a guided trek to explore the stunning forest trails of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, learning all about the fascinating and beautiful ecosystem there
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary
    Accomodation
    • 20% Camping - 80% Hotels
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