Central America is compact and convenient for adventurous travellers. It’s a collection of seven countries, conveniently located so that a border crossing is rarely more than a half day bus ride away.
Adventure World offers more than 100 tours to Central America, ranging from essential three day city experiences to epic multi country overland journeys lasting up to 52 days.
Here are the top spots you won’t want to miss while travelling around Central America:
• The Barrier Reef of Belize
Dive into it!
The Belize Barrier Reef has been a World Heritage site, since 1996, and is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The second largest reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef, and with better snorkeling and diving, even according to Aussies), the reef is 290 km long and brimming with rainbow tinged tropical fish, delicate sea fans and majestic coral gardens. Belize’s top tourist destination, the reef contains 70 hard coral species, 30 soft coral species and 500 species of fish. And the reef is close to Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, two laid back islands off the coast where coconut lobster is a local delicacy, washed down with Belkin beer.
• Mayan Ruins in Tikal
Located in what is now Northern Guatemala and the site of what was once the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. The ruins, which once included 3000 structures, occupy 16 km in lush tropical jungle brimming with colourful birds and howler monkeys. Go with a guide to learn more about the fascinating Mayan civilization.
• Cerro Verde National Park
This national park in El Salvador lies close to Izalco volcano, which is still active and encircles the picturesque Lake Coatepeque, and is also close to Santa Ana volcano. Climb to the top of Santa Ana for the best panoramic view. It’s a challenging but fascinating trek as Cerro Verde is a cloud forest reserve which is home to nearly 127 species of birds, including 17 species of humming birds, and lush vegetation dotted with orchids and bromeliads.
• Copan Ruins, Honduras
These Mayan ruins are the site of what some archaeologists describe as the Paris of the ancient world, as they housed a population of at least 20,000 people and contained an acropolis, a large complex of overlapping step pyramids, plazas, a ball court and palaces. The ruins are also famous for their intricately carved stellae and hieroglyphics. The site is easy to explore, and is a great place to have a picnic in the sun.
• Granada City
The oldest colonial city in Central America, and located beside Lake Nicaragua. Colonial architectural gems include the old Spanish ammunition fortress, La Merced and Xateva churches, the San Francisco convent, built in 1524, and Casa de los Leones (a portal featuring two carved lion’s heads). Cheap food and drink as well as easy access to scenic spots such as Masaya Volcano, make Granada a favourite base to relax and spend some extra time in Central America.
• The Cloud Forest in Monteverde
Zip through the air like a bird, walk among giant trees in the forest and take a hike in lush greenery full of birds, butterflies, humming birds and an almost countless number of animal and plant species. Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica has nine main trails and the massive 10,000 hectare Reserve draws 70,000 tourists a year. It has the largest number of orchids in the world. Visit early in the morning and enjoy the zip lines (a bit like flying foxes) and canopy walks through the clouds as the forest come alive.
• Panama Canal
Opened in 1915, this is the most modern marvel in our Central America list. Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans this grand ship canal remains one of the most impressive engineering feats in modern history. The 82 km route, which takes eight to ten hours to complete, saves large ships thousands of kilometres of ocean travel. Nearly one millions vessels have travelled through the canal since it opened.
For more information on these amazing destinations contact Adventure World on 0800 899 111 or visit www.adventureworld.co.nz.