Central American Journey
Costa Rica, Panama
Costa Rica, Panama
Starting in Panama, explore the Soberania National Park, one of the most accessible areas for bird watching and wildlife observation in Central America. Visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre with a 32m-high observation tower for excellent views. Then take the Pipeline Road, famous among birdwatchers due to its high yield in bird species.
Continue to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica and visit its highlights including the active Arenal Volcano. Its conical peak dominates the surrounding green hillsides, filled with rich birdlife such as hummingbird and butterfly gardens. Activities include zipline, canopy walks, hanging bridges and visiting coffee plantation.
Finally, fly into Managua, the capital of Nicaragua and transfer through the beautiful colonial city of Granada. Situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Nicaragua. Take a ferry to the twin volcanoed Ometepe Island, the largest lake island on the planet, to explore this fairytale wonderland at your leisure.
TRAVEL UNTAMED ON THIS 11-DAY CENTRAL AMERICAN JOURNEY…
And, experience the highlights of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Central American Journey
Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua
(11 Days – Travel Any Day)
Day 01 – Arrive
Panama City On arrival at the Tocumen International Airport, you will be met by our representative and escorted by private transfer to your hotel for one-night stay.
Overnight at Bristol Hotel.
Day 02 – Birdwatching Tour
Gamboa Rainforest Depart early today to Soberania national park along the Pipeline Road where 360 bird species were spotted in a single day during the Audubon Society’s Christmas Count. The National Park is also home to 105 species of mammal, 55 species of amphibian, 79 species of reptile and 36 species of freshwater fish. There are numerous trails to explore here including one where you can swim under a waterfall. You are likely to see unusual birds such as the Staty-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Antbirds, Antthrushes, Antshrikes, Antwrens and the White-whikered.
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B)
Day 03 – Panama Canal Tour
Panama City From Gamboa embark on a partial Canal Transit from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean (operates only on Saturdays). The Canal is both an engineering marvel and one of the most significant waterways on the planet. Seeing a huge ship nudge its way through the narrow canal with vast tracts of virgin jungle on both sides is truly an unforgettable sight.
The project for expansion is 96% complete (Feb 2016) and will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity. The easiest and best way to visit the canal is to go to the Miraflores Locks, on the north eastern fringe of Panama City, where a platform offers visitors a good view of the locks in operation.
In the evening enjoy a delicious Panamanian-style dinner at Las Tinajas Restaurant, located in the centre of Panama City (only Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
Overnight Bristol Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 04 – Transfer
San Jose/ Costa Rica Private transfer to the airport for your flight to San Jose, Costa Rica where you will be met by our representative and escorted by private transfer to your hotel for one-night stay.
Overnight at Gran Hotel Costa Rica (B)
Day 05 – Explore Costa Rica
Arenal This morning depart early from San Jose for a private tour of coffee plantation, Poas Volcano and La Paz waterfall gardens.
Poas Volcano is a restless giant that formed more than one million years ago and is ephemerally volatile. Its peak activity occurs in an approximately 40-year cycle. La Paz Waterfall Gardens feature the Hummingbird Garden, which draws 26 species of hummers – about 40 percent of the nation’s 57 species. The Butterfly Garden is enclosed by a massive netted dome the length of a football field. The major attractions are five thunderous waterfalls plummeting through deeply forested ravines on the northeast slopes of Poás Volcano.
Overnight Lost Iguana Resort (B, L, D)
Day 06 – Volcano Trek
Arenal In the morning walk on Arenal hanging bridges. In the afternoon drive to Arenal national park where a trail, partially over lava stone, leads to the volcano look-out. Observe the constant emissions of gases, water vapour and explosions. Encircling the country’s most active volcano, Arenal Volcano national park spreads over 120sq km. Rising from the San Carlos Plains, the majestic Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s most rewarding sights. Arenal ceased activity between the 13th and 16th centuries, and stayed inactive until July 1968, when an earthquake awakened the sleeping giant. The perfectly conical 1650m high volcano now smoulders incessantly and minor eruptions occur almost daily. At night it looks like a firecracker as it spews out red-hot lava. In the afternoon, visit Tabacon hot springs.
Overnight Lost Iguana Resort (B, D)
Day 07 – Transfer
Granada/ Nicaragua Transfer to San Jose and board your flight to Managua: Managua is beloved with a proud ferocity by its 1.4 million inhabitants. Though not super-popular with travellers, its volcanic skyline and cosmopolitan charms have inspired a library's worth of poems. Transfer to Granada.
Overnight at Hotel Plaza Colon (B)
Day 08 – Colonial City
Granada Visit the beautiful colonial city of Granada. Nicknamed 'La Gran Sultana' (The Great Sultan) in reference to its Moorish namesake in Spain, Granada is Nicaragua's oldest Spanish city, and a colonial gem. Founded in 1524 by conquistadores, it's set against the imposing backdrop of Volcán Mombacho on the northwest shore of Lake Nicaragua. Take a boat excursion to the islands of Lake Nicaragua.
Overnight Hotel Plaza Colon (B, L)
Day 09 – Transfer
San Juan del Sur Take an early transfer to San Jorge Port to take a ferry to Ometepe Island, the biggest island on a fresh water lake. Isla de Ometepe is the sort of place that belongs in a fairytale; an island formed by twin volcanoes rising from a lake. This ecological jewel sees plenty of visitors but remains happily unspoiled: rough-and-ready but relaxing, whether you plan to lounge on the beach, chat to plantain pickers or climb a volcano.
Later, take the ferry and transfer to San Juan del Sur. Set on a horseshoe-shaped bay framed by picturesque cliffs it is Nicaragua's main beach resort, and tourism is rapidly replacing fishing as the town's raison d'être. The charms it offers to expats and backpackers are easy to identify: surfing, fishing and enjoying the simple life.
Visit the Pre-Columbian Museum, the Green Puddles Lagoon, and enjoy the views of Concepción volcano and the green Madera volcano.
Overnight Piedras y Olas (B)
Day 10 – Relax & Transfer
Managua Enjoy the morning at your own leisure to relax on the beach or visit the small fishing town of San Juan del Sur. Afternoon transfer to hotel in Managua.
Overnight at Intercontinental Metrocentro (B)
Day 11 – Depart
Managua Transfer to the airport today for your onward flight.(B)
Make this your holiday
Getting There International flights arrive at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City. Flight from the US are mostly routed through Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston or Miami and other Central and South American cities; KLM and Iberia fly from Amsterdam and Madrid, respectively. Flights from San José, in neighbouring Costa Rica, often stop in David before continuing on to Panama City. The recently upgraded airport in David is expected to see direct international flights from and to the US at some point.
When to go The best time to visit Panama is during the dry season from around mid-December to mid-April. There is a prolonged rainy season from May to November, with the heaviest rain between October and November. Rain in Panama tends to come in sudden short downpours followed by sunshine. The climate is less tropical at higher elevations. In mountain areas, the average annual temperature ranges from 10 C to 19 C at various mountain elevations.