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Mexico City to San Jose

Cross seven countries and be amazed as beaches turn to ancient ruins which turn to volcanoes, jungles and coral reefs. Spot weird and wonderful wildlife, get hooked on superb local coffee, learn about the history of the Mayan and Aztec people and uncover some of the hidden gems of this incredibly diverse region.

  • Duration: 46 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Walking Tour, Sightseeing, Parks & Nature Reserves, Wildlife
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Supplier Tour ID: BSS/208566
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Finishes: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Mexico City
  • Teotihuacan
  • Puebla
  • Oaxaca
  • Palenque
  • Merida
  • Chichen Itza
  • Playa Del Carmen
  • Tulum
  • Caye Caulker
  • San Ignacio
  • Tikal
  • Rio Dulce
  • Antigua
  • Chichicastenango
  • Panajachel
  • Suchitoto
  • El Tunco
  • El Cuco
  • Leon
  • Granada
  • Ometepe Island
  • La Fortuna
  • San Jose

Itinerary

01

Day 1-2: Mexico City - Teotihuacan

An incredible mix of old and new awaits in Mexico City. Over the next couple of days you'll have the chance to acclimatise on an orientation walk of the city, where you'll discover a whole host of archaeological, cultural and exciting options ensuring you really get to hit the Aztec trail at full pace. There's so much to do in Mexico City that it may take you a while to stop your head from spinning however, once you get your bearings it's time to have fun. Having the option to watch a football match, explore anthropology museums or find out more about the ruins of Teotihuacan all present a wide array of choices. So, best advice is to research, ask your guide and then hit the ground running.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Estadio Azteca football match US$30
  • Floating Gardens and boat tour MXN350
  • Museum entrances US$FREE-US$10 each
  • Teotihuacan archaeological site US$80
  • Mariachis in Garibaldi Square US$8 (for band hire)
  • Metropolitan Cathedral FREE
  • National Palace murals US$FREE
  • Torre Latino 360° lookout US$5

02

Day 3-4: Puebla

Wave adios to the ancient pyramids and urban excitement of Mexico City as you head by local bus further south to the colonial streets and handicraft markets of Puebla. Get ready for plenty of haggling as well as the chance to hike by a volcano or for something a little different why not make the delicious local sauce, mole poblano. Cookery lessons are a great way to learn a bit of the local lingo and take home a couple of recipes to impress the folks back home with your newfound skills.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Cooking class US$92
  • Lucha Libre show from US$15
  • Museum of Art US$5

03

Day 5-7: Oaxaca

Take an afternoon local bus to Oaxaca where you'll be met by a mix of native and colonial buildings including the legendary UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte Alban. This is an exceptional site and an absolute cultural experience to savour no matter what you're into. Monte Alban is literally carved from the mountain and features: terraces, canals, pyramids and ceremonial alters that pay testament to the ingenuity of the pre-Columbian inhabitants of Oaxaca. On day seven you're free to enjoy your Oaxaca before boarding your overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas.Please note: On the overnight bus, Petty thefts can happen from time to time. It is safest to carry all your valuable belongings in the main luggage compartment which remains locked and out of the reach of anyone throughout the journey.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua & mezcal distillery tour US$45 (full day)
  • Monte Alban Ruins US$5
  • Cooking class US$85
  • Santo Domingo Cultural Centre US$5

04

Day 8-9: San Cristobal De Las Casas

The effects of Spanish colonialism are littered throughout Mexico, and nowhere is this more evident than the cobbled streets of San Cristobal de las Casas. Get out of the city discover what life was like before the arrival of the early European explorers. Optional village tours are a great way to explore the local area and renting a bike will allow you to travel at your leisure and experience life at your own pace.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Sumidero Canyon boat tour US$30
  • Mountain bike tour US$45
  • Mayan villages tour US$20
  • El Chorreadero canyoning MXN1400
  • Museum Entrance fees US$2-$5

05

Day 10: Palenque

Wind your way through the jungle to the ancient city of Palenque by local bus where you'll find one of the finest collections of Mayan architecture and carvings in existence. Palenque is situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and is home to possibly the most impressive series of Mayan ruins, which date back at AD600. Whilst walking amongst the ruins it is often possible to hear the eerie calls of howler monkeys echoing from the jungle, giving an added dimension to this magnificent site. The temples are superb relics of Mayan culture and there are many ruins here still unexcavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.Please note:The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases, we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity – more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

06

Day 11-13: Merida

After a long bus journey (approx. 8 hours) arrive in Merida. Leave the jungles behind as you explore the museums, galleries and cathedrals of Merida, the capital city of Yucatan. This is a great chance to collect your thoughts amongst the markets and mansions of this cultural hub and if you're still hankering for more Mayan ruins then the site of Uxmal is easily within reach. Cultural activities of a different nature can be found in Merida every Sunday and if you fancy slipping on your dancing shoes then you won't be disappointed. Salsa and merengue are the order of the day to finish off the weekend and as some of the streets close and turn into dance floors you may not be able to stop yourself from joining in, Strictly Come Dancing here you come! For some more spectacular sites of the feathered variety head to the pink flamingos of Celestun Bird Sanctuary, which always proves to be one of many colourful highlights on this stretch of your Mexican adventure.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Celestun Bird Sanctuary MXN810
  • Guided city tour US$24
  • Uxmal Ruins tour MXN810

07

Day 14-15: Chichen Itza - Playa Del Carmen

Chichen Itza is just one of those 'must see' Mayan destinations and that's why we've included a visit for you. After you've had your fill of pyramids, inscriptions and gigantic stone staircases then it's time to let your hair down and celebrate in Playa del Carmen. Although close to Cancun, Playa isn't as full on and if you're hoping for a spot of snorkelling, or simply watching the sunset with a tropical cocktail or two then why not - you deserve it!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Dos Ojos Cenote snorkelling tour MXN350
  • Ferry to Cozumel MXN326

08

Day 16-17: Tulum

Take a scenic local bus trip south to even more gorgeous beaches and the warm waves of Tulum. White sand, cocktails and palm trees have never looked so sweet and if you'd like the opportunity to get your first taste of Mayan ruins then Tulum is the best place to start. Renting a mask and snorkel is a great idea to see the colourful fishes up close and personal. One of the best spots for snorkelling are the ruins of Tulum where you can actually swim around some of the ancient walls that have made their way into the sea, this trip just keeps on getting even more epic!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Bike rental MXN185per day
  • Archaeological site visit MXN65
  • Snorkel rental US$15 per day

09

Day 18-20: Caye Caulker

Say "adios" Mexico and "what's up?" `Belize as you journey across the border on a combination of public and private transport on what promises to be a real culture jolt to remember. Once in Central America you'll be whisked over to the Caribbean island of Caye Caulker where you'll be able to swim and snorkel amongst some of the most incredible marine reserves on the continent. This is pretty much where things go all Captain Jack Sparrow, from grilled shrimp to rum with absolutely everything, keep your eyes peeled for the Jolly Roger flag and you won't go far wrong. If you've had enough of landlubbing and fancy a trip out to sea then there are plenty of options to sail, kayak and snorkel out on the ocean wave, this is the life!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Guided snorkelling trip US$35
  • Manatee tour US$85
  • Sunset sailboat cruise US$38
  • Stand up paddle board rental US$25 per hour

10

Day 21-22: San Ignacio

After bidding the manatees and coral reefs a fond farewell it's time to travel inland by local bus as you encounter the forest covered highlands that sit beyond Belize's capital city, Belmopan. Get ready for rushing rivers, tumbling waterfalls and ancient ruins, with a chance to visit the ceremonial temples of Xunantunich and the incredible caves of Tunichil Muknal. This is a true outdoor adventure playground and for many will prove to be one of the active highlights of the whole tour. Tubing, caving and canoeing are all excellent optional activities for the energetic and the opportunities to have awesome adventures whilst in Belize is going to stay with you for years to come. If you're not that into the extreme side of life then don't panic - there are plenty of more laid-back alternatives with bike hire, butterfly gardens and trips to nearby ruins always proving excellent for learning more about the area.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Guided Caracol Ruins tour US$95
  • Cave tubing US$95
  • Xunantunich Ruins US$10
  • Cahal Pech Ruins US$10
  • Iguana Conservation Project US$9
  • Mountain Pine Ridge tour (day trip) US$85

11

Day 23: Tikal

Travel by `collective minibus' and step back in time by opting to visit the awesome Tikal temples - don't miss this one! The Tikal Temples are magnificent and although the pilgrimage does involve a climb through the jungle the views from the top of the ruins are nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Guided private tour of ruins US$45
  • Zipline tour US$45

12

Day 24-25: Rio Dulce

Next stop is one of the absolute legends of the Central American circuit - the awesome Rio Dulce. This has long been a draw for boaters and if you're looking for things to do on your free day then why not take a tour of Lake Izabel or explore up river in search of manatees and hot springs. If you'd prefer to keep your feet on dry land then there are loads of other choices to do just that. With other options including nature reserves and the San Felipe fort at Livingstone, you're bound to find the right pace to suit your mood and whatever you're into you're sure to come away happy, experienced and hungry for more.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Natural hot springs US$25
  • Boat trip to Livingston US$30
  • Quirigua ruins US$41
  • San Felipe Fort US$1

13

Day 26: Antigua

Take the bus to Antigua for a taste of delicious local street food before settling down for the night in preparation for tomorrow's meeting with your host family and your stay in a traditional Guatemalan home, things are about to get crazy good!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

14

Day 27: Chichicastenango - San Jorge La Laguna

Pick up a gift for your host family at the handicraft stalls of Chichicastenango before heading by private minibus to San Jorge La Laguna and a real opportunity to practise your Spanish and learn more about the customs and lifestyles of Guatemala. Although living conditions can be pretty basic this is a genuine chance to see what life is like for local people and through a combination of hand gestures and phrase books you'll be surprised what you can learn during just a short period of time.

Meals Included: Dinner locally

15

Day 28: Panajachel

Today it's time to make the most of Guatemala's natural beauty as you swim, hike or kayak within a stunning volcanic backdrop.

Meals Included: 1 breakfast included

Optional Activities:

  • San Pedro Volcano hike US$75
  • Kayak rental US$8 per hour
  • Lakes & villages tour US$36
  • Mountain bike tour US$75
  • Water taxi to Santiago, San Pedro or San Juan US$8
  • Zipline ride US$52

16

Day 29-30: Antigua

Travel onwards by private transport to Antigua. Salsa lessons, coffee tours and strolls over cultural cobbles are all possible in Antigua .

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Coffee & Macadamia Plantation US$45

17

Day 31-32: Suchitoto

Today you cross the border into El Salvador heading south to Suchitoto, a reminder of El Salvador's historical past. A beautiful town with painted houses and cobbled streets, it's a world away from the modern country which El Salvador is today. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlan, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks. The following day is free for optional activities such as boat or kayaking trips on Lago Suchitlan.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Cihuatan Ruins US$3
  • War historic walk at Cinquera Forest (min of 4 people) US$50
  • Lake Suchitlan boat tour (min 6 people) US$20

18

Day 33: El Tunco

Heading south today, you pass through the nation's capital San Salvador, and head for the beautiful laid-back beaches of El Tunco. Here you'll find a rare side to El Salvador, a place so laid-back and relaxed you'll never want to leave. Go for a surfing lesson, grab a fresh fruit smoothie, try street food (especially a pupusa) but make sure you head to Monkey La La for sunset and a drink, for the perfect end to this awesome day adventure.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

19

Day 34-35: El Cuco

El Cuco is a beach town with dark sand, lined with vendor huts, delicious seafood restaurants and surrounding palms. Spend two nights in a beautiful eco-hotel and take time to enjoy the beach away from the crowds. Kayak among the mangroves, give surfing a go, or just relax in a hammock. This is beach life at its best!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Yoga class US$Free

20

Day 36: Leon

After an early transfer to La Union you'll take a boat through the Gulf of Fonseca to the Nicaraguan town of Potosi. Once you've had your passport checked, the group will continue by private vehicle to Leon. It’s a long old journey today but the end point is entirely worth it! Nicaragua is a beautiful place and for many people it becomes their favourite country in Central America with its friendly people and impressive natural beauty. The country has flourished in recent years and is an incredibly vibrant and unique country. This city is buzzing with energy and with its faded decadence and crumbling buildings you are sure to fall in love with this city. Spend time walking around exploring the ornate churches, people watching from the street cafes, eating good food and enjoying the nightlife.

Meals Included: No meals included

21

Day 37-38: Granada

Oozing with colonial charm, Granada is the oldest city of the 'New World', having been founded in 1524. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and its appearance is a mixture of Moorish and Andalusian. Wander the cobblestone streets surrounded by colourful buildings and bargain hard in the markets.  The surrounding countryside includes active volcanoes and lakes so you can hike, cruise and explore the neighbouring landscapes. Opt for a day trip out to Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Park to get up close to some steaming giants. There really is so much to do, you won't know where to start!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • City Tour US$65
  • Laguna Apoyo kayaking tour US$45
  • Mombacho Volcano hike US$40
  • Bicycle tour US$15
  • Kayak rental US$30 per day
  • Masaya Volcano night hike US$50

22

Day 39-40: Ometepe Island

Next stop is the agricultural island of Ometepe which sits in the largest lake in Central America - Lake Nicaragua. This is a simply breathtaking experience and will bring you closer to the wildlife, the people and the volcanic landscapes of this remarkable country. If you can't get enough of that volcanic stuff then there are more optional hikes available up the side of both Maderas and Concepcion however, after all that huffing and puffing a trip to the Ojo de Agua springs is the place to be after a hard day exploring the wonderful sights!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Ojo de Agua natural spring US$25
  • Concepcion Volcano hike US$45
  • Maderas Volcano hike US$45
  • Petroglyphs US$20

23

Day 41-42: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Wave farewell to the monkeys and beaches of Ometepe Island as you continue your travels south to the lush green cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. This is the home of hundreds of species of plants, birds and mammals which means that however you choose to explore, by foot, bike or zip-line, you'll be in for a really wild time. There are so many additional ways to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes of Monteverde and from cloud forest walks to night time nature rambles, this is an exciting and captivating area of Costa Rica. Coffee and chocolates or butterflies and insects - you name it and you'll have the opportunity to find out more over this exciting two day stopover.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Butterfly garden US$15-$30
  • Zip lining US$40-50
  • Frog Pond Museum US$15-$20
  • Night hiking US$35
  • Serpentarium US$15
  • Cloud Forest hike US$40
  • Cloud Forest Train US$60
  • Coffee & Chocolate tour US$35

24

Day 43-44: La Fortuna

Monkeys, lakes and volcanoes - oh my! This is what it's all about and with a whole host of different activities to try, within the realm of the active Arenal Volcano, you'll never forget Costa Rica. This is pretty much an adventure playground for big kids and if you're interested in learning how to paddle board then where better to give it a go than here? This is also the perfect place to rest your bones in the hot springs and relax, Costa Rica has it all including the ever so loveable Sloth!

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • Hot springs US$45
  • Fortuna waterfall US$15
  • Hanging bridges US$56
  • Rio Celeste Safari Float tour US$70
  • Stand up paddle board US$65
  • Cano Negro boat tour US$67

25

Day 45-46: San Jose

Do you know the way to San Jose? You most certainly do! Take your time to relax and explore amongst the artisan markets and cultural museums of Costa Rica's capital city. Gold, handicrafts and seafood are all on offer on your final day in Central America and as you bid adios to San Jose don't forget to finally get round to sending those postcards.

Meals Included: Meals paid locally

Optional Activities:

  • National Museum US$12

Inclusions:
  • Services of a professional bilingual tour leader
  • All transport by BOLT (Buses or Local Transport)
  • Accommodation: Hotel 1, Budget Lodging: 4, Hotel: 40
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Tour Highlights:
  • Visit Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica
  • Toe-tap to a mariachi band in Mexico City
  • Embrace a kaleidoscope of colour at a Mexican market
  • Walk amongst waterfalls and clear limestone pools
  • Escape the Mexican heat in San Cristobal de las Casas
  • Explore the cathedrals of the Yucatan capital, Merida
  • Bask on Playa del Carmen's white sand beaches
  • Learn the history of ancient Guatemalan ruins
  • Kick back on the beautiful coast of Belize
  • Experience traditional Guatemalan life with a local homestay
  • Enjoy colonial buildings and surrounding volcanoes in Antigua
  • Haggle in the markets of Chichicastenango
  • Spot wildlife on Ometepe Island
  • Bargain hard in the markets in Granada and Costa Rica
  • Explore the steamy Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Admire the dramatic scenery surrounding San Jose
  • Entrance & visit to Chichen Itza
  • Swim in the warm waters of El Tunco and El Cuco