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Group - Classic

Tropicbird: Highlights of Central America

19 days from £3,755pp

Nicaragua / El Salvador / Guatemala / Belize

Tikal

Essentials

About Our Group Tours

To find out more about how our group tours including group sizes, solo travellers and why to choose us. Please click here.

Tour Leader

On this tour, you’ll be accompanied by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America  they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go. They will spend the first night with you at your final destination Chaa Creek before leaving you with the experienced guides and staff at the exclusive lodge.

Transport

2 flights (both 1hr), 8 scenic road journeys.

Accommodation

On this tour we use mid-range and upper-mid range hotels. In Belize we stay in a first class lodge.

Examples of the hotels we use on the Tropicbird Journey are:

• Granada: Hotel Colonial
• León: Hotel El Convento
• Suchitoto: Los Almendros de San Lorenzo
• Antigua: Meson de Maria
• Lake Atitlán: Villa Santa Catarina
• Lake Petén: Villa Maya
• Belize: Chaa Creek Lodge

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 15 and dinner days 16-18.

Summary Of Nights

19 days, 18 nights: Granada 3; León 2; Suchitoto 2; Antigua 3; Lake Atitlán 3; Tikal 2; Chaa Creek 3.

Optional Excursions

There are a few days where optional excursions available during this tour, which are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $150USD should cover participation in a wide range of the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so can not be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest:

• León: visit the excavated ruins of León viejo
• Suchitoto: tour the sites and artitistic quarters of Suchitoto, walk in the local Cinquera nature reserve or take boat rides on Lake Suchitlán
• Antigua : climb the Pacaya Volcano, visit local surrounding villages to pick up some handicrafts or walk up Cerro de la Cruz
• Honduras: ruins of Copán
• Lake Atitlán: further boat trips out onto the water or walks in the countryside
• Chaa Creek : additional options available can be organised through the Lodge, such as guided nature walks, a visit to some nearby botanical gardens, horseriding or spa treatments

Currency

The unit of currency in Nicaragua is the córdoba, the US dollar in El Salvador, in Guatemala the quetzal and the Belizean dollar in Belize.US dollars are widely accepted in all countries as well, but should not be relied upon. A budget of around $35US per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks and the odd souvenir.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers cheques are increasingly less favoured by travellers who find them awkward to change as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

International departure tax is included on the ticket but a small airport security tax (approx. $3USD) is payable locally either in local currency or US dollars. There is a $10USD charge on arrival in Managua for a tourist card.

Journey Grade

This journey is at a gentle pace and there is plenty of time to relax in each location. All walks and excursions are optional, so discuss with your tour leader if you have any doubts about their suitability. There are some early mornings, and in the lowlands temperature and humidity are high, and the sun is strong.

Climate

Situated well within the tropics, these countries within Central America have a typical tropical climate with high temperatures all year round. May-Nov is rainy season, but places on the eastern coast, the Caribbean side, tend to be rather wetter, and to have a longer rainy season, than those on the Pacific coast to the west. There’s a risk of tropical storms or hurricanes from August to November. The wet season is characterised by short afternoon downpours rather than constant rain which relieve the heat somewhat.

Areas of El Salvador (Suchitoto) and Guatemala the western Highlands (including Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango) experience a much more comfortable spring-like climate with sunny days and temperatures averaging 22C.

Clothing And Special Equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. Some warm items and good waterproof jackets are also necessary for all departures. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos thrive. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear.

A daypack is useful for carrying around essential items, guidebook, water and any extra layers.
Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets. Please take precautions against mosquito bites as cases of dengue fever have recently been reported in several areas of Guatemala.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Travelling Alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single supplement places available, which carry a surcharge.

Country info

When is the best time to visit Nicaragua?

Situated well within the tropics, Nicaragua has a typical tropical climate with high temperatures all year round at low altitudes. Temperatures are significantly modified by altitude – higher up it can be very cool at night. May-Nov is rainy season, but places on the eastern coast, the Caribbean side, tend to be rather wetter, and to have a longer rainy season, than those on the Pacific coast to the west. There’s a risk of tropical storms or hurricanes Jun-Nov.

What's the official language of Nicaragua?

Spanish.

What's the official currency of Nicaragua?

Córdoba. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card. There are ATMs in large towns where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave UK, and amounts may be limited. ATMs allow you to choose between dollar or córdoba notes but the latter come in large denominations – try to break them down when you can. There are no ATMs (as of 2016) in El Castillo or the Solentiname islands and only one on Ometepe – bring cash with you to these places.

What's the time difference between the UK and Nicaragua?

GMT -6 hours.

What countries does Nicaragua combine well with?

A visit to neighbouring Central America countries, such as tiny, friendly El Salvador and wildlife-rich, slickly organised Costa Rica.

What are the festivals, cultural and sporting events in Nicaragua?

Semana Santa, (Easter, throughout Nicaragua). Processions inspired by biblical stories. Popular traditions include “the donkey procession,” on Palm Sunday; a procession of pilgrim carts that come from all parts of Nicaragua and gather in Granada; San Lázaro’s pet dog blessing in Masaya; and San Juan del Sur’s beach party celebration.

Fiestas de Masaya, Masaya, end of Sep for 3 months. A celebration on Sundays of parades and tamarindo music. It includes the Fiesta del Toro and Fiesta de los Aguisotes in late Oct and ends with the Procesión de San Jerónimo on the first Sunday of Dec.

International Poetry Festival, Granada, second week of Feb annually. Over 150 poets from all parts of the world congregate at this week-long event to recite their best poetry. 

Warning

On 22 April 2018 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but essential travel to Nicaragua.

The advice follows a series of protests in a number of cities. Further information can be found on the FCO’s website.

Country info

When's the best time to visit El Salvador?

The coastal lowlands have a hot tropical climate all year round with temperatures peaking at well over 30°C. The mountainous interior has a milder climate and in Dec-Jan temperatures hover around 18°C and it is cool at night. The best time to visit is during the drier months of Nov-Feb – it gets very hot thereafter. The rainy season runs May-Oct with short tropical showers – it is cooler, but some of the back roads may be impassable. Sep-Nov is the season when rainfall may be heavy and hurricanes are possible.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of El Salvador?

Spanish

What is El Salvador's official currency?

US dollar. The former local currency ( colon), was phased out in 2003. You can obtain US dollar cash or exchange travellers cheques locally in banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) and may be able to obtain cash advances via the few ATMs in larger towns and cities. You should authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited.

What is the time difference between El Salvador and the UK?

GMT -6 hrs.  

Which other countries combine well with El Salvador?

A visit to neighbouring Central America countries, such as Nicaragua with its splendid colonial cities and coral island beaches; wildlife-rich, slickly organised Costa Rica and the Mayan cities of Guatemala, all easily accessed by land or air.  

What are the festivals and cultural or sporting events in El Salvador?

Semana Santa, Easter, throughout El Salvador. Celebrated from Thursday through to Easter Sunday.
Towns and villages all celebrate the feast days of their local saint, sometimes with protracted celebrations, as in San Miguel and Sonsonate with programmes of artistic events. 
Arts and Culture Festival, Feb, Suchitoto. The pretty colonial town hosts a world-class arts and culture festival with music and dance groups.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Despite its small size, Costa Rica has a number of distinct microclimates. The Caribbean coast is humid all year round with the driest months being Sep-Oct; wildlife lovers, however, might prefer to visit this region from Jul-Aug to watch nesting turtles. The rest of the country experiences a dry season from Dec-Apr, when there is plenty of sun and temperatures are high, and a rainy season from May-Nov. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule for all regions: for example, the rainy season starts a month earlier in the south Pacific, while the northern areas, including the Guanacaste coast, are not as affected by the seasons and are generally much drier. The highlands and cloud forests have warm temperatures during the day but the high altitude means evenings are much cooler.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Costa Rica?

Spanish.

What's the national currency of Costa Rica?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. There’s at least one in most main towns. You may have to authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited to amounts lower than in the UK. US dollars cash can be exchanged in banks too. US dollars themselves are widely accepted.

What's the time difference between Costa Rica and UK?

GMT -5 hours.  

What places combine well with Costa Rica?

A visit to neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama. There are land crossings to both, as well as international flights.

How do I get to Costa Rica?

There is a direct flight from London Gatwick to San José (11 hrs) as well as non-direct flights via US and European hubs.

What are the cultural and sport events in Costa Rica?

International Arts Festival: San José, March. Music, dance, film art exhibitions.
Monteverde Music Festival: Monteverde, Jan - Feb.

Country info

When is the best time to visit Belize?

The best weather conditions are during the dry season Dec-May. It can be cool in the highlands in winter, while the jungle areas are hot and humid all year.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Belize?

English.

How do I get local currency in Belize?

Belizean dollar. Notes can be obtained from money exchanges and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card. There are ATMs in Belize City where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to get authorisation from your bank first, and withdrawal amounts may be limited.

What's the time difference between Belize and UK?

GMT -6 hrs

What places combine well with Belize?

A visit to neighbouring Guatemala, with its Latin and Maya cultural heritage, there’s a road link to the Mayan ruins at Tikal in the Petén jungle; southern Mexico, crossing the land border at Chetumal. 

What are the festivals and cultural and sporting events in Belize?

Belize Carnival, (Feb/Mar). Lively celebrations especially in San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye.

Lobster season:  Lobster season starts Jun-Jul, with lobster on offer in all its forms, with drinking and partying.

Belize Independence Day: throughout the country, 21 Sep.  Parades, processions and parties.

Garifuna Settlement Day, Dangriga, 19 Nov. Includes parades, live music, drumming, dancing, and prayers in celebration of the first Garifuna Afro-Caribbean settlers.

How long is the flight to Belize from UK?

There are flights via US and European hubs, the journey from London taking around 15.5 hours.

What's included in the price

  • services of Journey Latin America tour leader
  • all land and air transport
  • international flights (if booking all inclusive price)
  • accommodation as specified
  • meals as specified
  • excursions as specified

Included Excursions

  • Granada: Las Isletas, Lake Nicaragua
  • Granada: Masaya market and volcano
  • Granada: city tour
  • León: walking tour
  • Antigua: walking tour
  • Atitlán: boat excursion to villages on Lake Atitlán
  • Tikal: tour of Tikal and Yaxha ruins
  • Chaa Creek: selected excursions at Chaa Creek

What's not included in the price

  • tips and insurance
  • meals other than specified
  • optional excursions
  • arrival tax in Managua

What's included in the price

  • services of Journey Latin America tour leader
  • all land and air transport
  • international flights (if booking all inclusive price)
  • accommodation as specified
  • meals as specified
  • excursions as specified

Included Excursions

  • Granada: Las Isletas, Lake Nicaragua
  • Granada: Masaya market and volcano
  • Granada: city tour
  • León: walking tour
  • Antigua: walking tour
  • Atitlán: boat excursion to villages on Lake Atitlán
  • Tikal: tour of Tikal and Yaxha ruins
  • Chaa Creek: selected excursions at Chaa Creek

What's not included in the price

  • tips and insurance
  • meals other than specified
  • optional excursions
  • arrival tax in Managua

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

Meet the team