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Alcion: Central America Discovery

22 days from £2007pp

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Alcion: Central America Discovery

22 days from £2007pp
 

Group Journey

 

Transport

10 road journeys (longest 8 hours) most with stops.

Accommodation

On our Discovery Journeys the standard of accommodation varies. We aim to keep the price competitive while ensuring the basic comforts. Hotels / guesthouses are comfortable and attractive in most places but elsewhere are purely functional. All properties are well maintained and all will have a private bathroom with hot water. (If you prefer greater comfort see the Classic Journeys or Private Journeys on their respective pages on our website).

Examples of hotels include:

• Panama City: Hampton Inn
• Boquete: Casa de la Abuela
• Bocas del Toro: Bocas Inn
• San Jose: Hotel Vesuvius
• Monteverde: Monteverde Lodge
• Ometepe Island: Villa Paraiso
• Granada: Hotel Con Corazon
• León: Hotel Austria
• Suchitoto: Posada Suchitlan
• Copán Ruinas: Casa de la Cafe
• Antigua: Casa de las Fuentes

These hotels are subject to change and are dependent on availability. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Included Excursions

• Panama City: tour of old town and the Panama Canal
• Monteverde: guided tour of one of the nature reserves
• Granada: Masaya Volcano National Park and market
• Granada: walking tour of Granada
• Copán: guided tour of the ruins
• Antigua: guided tour

Summary of nights

2016 - 22 days, 21 nights: Panama City 2; Boquete 1; Bocas del Toro 3, San José 2; Monteverde 2; Ometepe 2; Granada 2; León 1; Suchitoto 2; Copán 2; Antigua 2.

2017 - 22 days, 21 nights: Panama City 2; Boquete 1; Bocas del Toro 2, San José 2; Monteverde 2; Ometepe 3; Granada 2; León 1; Suchitoto 2; Copán 2; Antigua 2.

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• Border entrance and exit fees

Optional Excursions

There is a range of optional excursions available throughout this holiday which can be 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 $280USD should cover participation in some of the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot 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:

• Boquete: tour of a coffee plantation, walk to the Bajo Mano waterfall
• Bocas del Toro: boat trips out to islands to snorkel, dolphin spot or swim off the white sand beaches
• San Jose: city tour
• San José: rafting on River Pacuare
• San José: Irazú volcano and Cartago Cathedral
• San José: excursion to Poás volcano
• Monteverde: zip lining, canopy walking or horseriding
• Monteverde: night tour of the cloud forest
• Ometepe Island: volcano climbing
• Ometepe Island: island tour or explore by bicycle, horse, quad bike or motorcycle
• Granada: sunset boat ride out among the Isletas
• Granada: tour the ceramics museum
• León: visit the Museo de la Revolución, Museum of legends and traditions and Museo de Arte Ortiz Gurdian
• Suchitoto: sunset boat rides on Lake Sucitlán
• Suchitoto: cultural village tour or birdwatching by kayak
• Antigua: climb Pacaya volcano
• Antigua: visit surrounding indigenous villages

Travelling alone

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

Currency

The unit of currency in Panama is the US dollar (locals refer to it as the Balboa). In Costa Rica it is the colón, in Nicaragua the córdoba, in El Salvador the US dollar, in Honduras the lempira and in Guatemala the quetzal. US dollars are widely accepted in all countries where it is the not the currency, but should not be relied upon.

Budget

A budget of around $45USD per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks and the odd souvenir, although prices do vary greatly from country to country.

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 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 and smaller denominations will be easier to change. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by visitors 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. Border entrance and exit fees come to approximately $30USD and must be paid locally.

Journey Grade

There are some very early mornings and long days of travel (all of which have comfort or place-of-interest stops). All walks are optional, and you can discuss with your tour leader which are suitable for you. The ascent of the Poás and Maderas Volcanoes is steep and at high altitude, while other hikes are gentler. White water rafting and horse riding options require no previous experience, although for the former you do need to be able to swim.

Climate

The trip covers six countries with climates ranging from tropical lowland to more temperate zones in the highlands. Travellers on May to October journeys should encounter high temperatures (around 30°C) and high humidity in the lowlands. There may be rainfall in most countries, as the 'official' rainy season is May to October. December to April departures will still encounter high temperatures in the lowlands, but cool evenings in Boquete, San José, Monteverde and the Guatemalan highlands, with temperatures falling to around 10°C. Rainfall and humidity will be lower at this time.

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. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sun protection cream, hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A backpack or soft holdall is the most sensible and comfortable way to carry your belongings. Light sleepers should pack ear plugs. Owing to the number of road journeys on this trip, we recommend passengers pack as lightly as possible. There are plenty of opportunities to do laundry on the trip, and your tour leader will be able to advise about the best places to do this.

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 malaria tablets. It is essential (for crossing borders) that you bring an official yellow fever vaccination certificate, which you should carry with the rest of your travel documents. Please take precautions against biting mosquitoes 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.

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre

Visas

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

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

This costs $14USD per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

22 days from £2007pp

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About Group Tours

Our small escorted group journeys are led by award-winning tour guides and follow tried and tested routes that we have been refining for over 30 years. 

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

We Love Latin America

  • A passion for the region runs through all we do
  • All our Consultants have lived or travelled extensively in Latin America
  • Up-to-the-minute knowledge underpinned by 35 years' experience

Full Financial Protection

  • Fully bonded and licensed
  • ATOL-protected
  • On your side when it matters
  • Book with confidence, knowing every penny is secure 


The Real Latin America

  • Our insider knowledge helps you go beyond the guidebooks
  • We hand-pick hotels with character and the most rewarding excursions
  • Let us show you the Latin America we know and love
Wanderlust

Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

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