Day 1: Panama City ( overnight in Panama City)
Saturday. Welcome to Panama City! Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by a local representative and escorted to the group hotel where the rest of the evening is at leisure to explore the capital before meeting the rest of the group the following morning.
Day 2: Panama Sightseeing ( overnight in Panama City)
We spend the morning exploring Central America’s most cosmopolitan and wealthy capital. We start off walking through the Paitilla district where the skyline is dominated by Hong-Kong style skyscrapers until we reach the colonial heart of San Felipe where we wander through the narrow streets discovering delightful plazas. We then continue our tour to Panama Viejo, the remaining part of the old Panama City which was ransacked by the infamous British buccaneer Henry Morgan in 1671.
We then venture out of central Panama and make our way to the Panama Canal, the world-famous waterway that connects The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The visitor centre gives us an insight into the history of this extraordinary feat of engineering before finishing our tour watching the ships transit between oceans at the Miraflores Locks.
Day 3: Boquete ( overnight in Boquete)
Panama City - Boquete. We board the bus this morning and journey along the Pan-American Highway across Western Panama to the city of David. Once we reach the city of David we swap our bus for an old American school bus, or as the locals call it ‘chicken bus’s as we make our ascent to Boquete, along the windy roads through the mist and into the cloud forest. The cool, clean air comes as a pleasant change from the heat of Panama City. The rest of the day is free to explore the heart of Panama’s coffee-growing country – go on a coffee tour, or venture approximately 50 meters from the centre for a visit to the charming San Ramon waterfall which offers amazing photo opportunities.
Day 4-5: Bocas del Toro ( overnight in Bocas del Toro)
Boquete - Bocas del Toro. We have the morning at leisure to finish exploring Boquete before our bus takes us to the Caribbean coast across the continental divide as we make our way to Colon Island. We make our way to Almirante, known for the export of bananas grown in the humid landscape, along the forested mountain scenery. From Almirante we board a ferry across the Caribbean Sea to the Bocas del Toro archipelago. We reach Isla Colon, the capital of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, and our home for the next two nights.
The beautiful islands of Bocas del Toro remain isolated from mainstream tourism, but it won't be long before this densely wooded region of secluded bays, coral reefs and Guaymi Indian settlements is firmly on the map. Only the largest island, Isla Colon, has any roads and there is one major settlement here, Bocas. Bocas is a sleepy, rather unkempt but charming fishing town where we spend the next two nights.
The rest of the day 4 and all of day 5 is at leisure to explore the islands. Look out for the Indian fishermen who live in the stilt houses above the water and travel solely by canoes relying on their paddle power to get them around. For those wanting to discover some of the rich wildlife in the area there is an optional excursion to Bastimentos National Marine Park where you spend the day delving into the jungle or exploring the white sand beaches, snorkelling around one of the coral atolls. Alternatively take a short boat trip to the deserted islet popular with playful dolphins to sit under the palm trees or cruise along the mangroves spotting marine life under the crystal clear waters.
Day 6-7: Sarapiqui
Bocas del Toro - Sarapiqui (Costa Rica). We make our way back to the mainland today where we meet our bus and take a short scenic journey through the countryside until we cross the Costa Rican border. We then continue our scenic drive along the road from Sixaola to Bribri where tropical plantations surround us and stretch as far as the eye can see. We continue to the Caribbean coast along the highway to Limon and onto our base for the next two nights, Sarapiqui. This small town is a popular base for travellers looking to take advantage of the wonderful national parks in the area, dispersed between the banana and pineapple plantations.
The next day is free to explore this beautiful region or just enjoy some relaxation. The dense foliage creates an enticing habitat for many species of bird and wildlife and there are numerous national parks to explore. You can view the canopy from above via a series of hanging bridges and towers, or hike along trails that wind through the trees.
For the more adventurous the Sarapiqui river is popular for rafting on its rapids and there are plenty of other activities on offer such as mountain biking and nature-viewing boat trips where you may spot bird species such as hummingbirds, great green macaws, quetzals and toucans.
Day 8-9: Monteverde
Sarapiqui - Monteverde. This morning we make our way to Santa Elena on the edge of the Monteverde National Park, a beautiful sanctuary of verdant cloud forest in the Costa Rican mountains. We have a day to explore this exquisite region, with a guided tour of the Cloud Forest or Cuircancha Reserve depending on where the best wildlife is. There are also optional excursions to visit a butterfly farm or canopy tour over the cloud forest.
Day 10-12: Ometepe Island
Monteverde - Ometepe Island (Nicaragua). We descend from the cloud forest, across coastal plains, through Liberia, the provincial capital of Northern Costa Rica, before crossing the border into Nicaragua. Our journey then continues along the shores of Lake Nicaragua to San Jorge where we catch a ferry across the lake to Ometepe Island. Keep an eye on the horizon to get a glimpse of the twin volcanic peaks rising proudly out of the lake.
The next two days are free to explore this serene and undeveloped island. Hike through the rain forest that covers most of the island and spot the different species of monkeys and parrots or visit the pre-Colombian petroglyphs and stone statues which were carved by the Chorotega Indians. The island offers scenic and challenging walks on the slopes island's volcanoes – Maderas and Concepcion, as well as horse riding and fishing excursions. You can also visit one of the many coffee cooperatives on the island. Alternatively, sit back and relax, enjoy views across the lake and take a dip in its warm waters.
Day 13: Granada
Ometepe Island - Granada. After breakfast we make our way back to San Jorge and onto the Spanish colonial town of Granada, once one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America. On arrival our tour leader gives us an informal orientation walk around the city’s cobbled streets as we take in the neo-classical and colonial architecture and vibrant coloured buildings of this picture-perfect city. After checking into our hotel, we have the rest of the day to go for a stroll around the food stalls, listen to traditional music or take a historical horse drawn carriage ride.
Day 14: Masaya National Park
We take an excursion to the Masaya National Park today, home to the only active volcano in the country, that allows visitors to visit the rim of the crater. We take time to walk to the hilltop fort of Coyotepe, a military fortress which was then extended into a dungeon below and served as prison for political enemies. We then move on to visit the volcanic crater lakes and the still active volcano for an unforgettable experience before making our way to the town of Masaya for a stroll along the handicraft market. Return to Granada for an evening at leisure.
Day 15: Leon
Granada - Leon. We continue our journey north this morning across the volcanic plains of Momotombo volcano to Leon, another restored colonial city. The rest of the day is ours to explore the cobbled streets and shady plazas around the town centre where we get a feel for the strong liberal traditions that makes this city the country’s radical and intellectual centre. As we stroll through the streets we notice the Sandinista heritage that is still visible today with the large murals and revolutionary graffiti plastered over some of the towns white walls.
Day 16-17: Suchitoto
Leon - Suchitoto (El Salvador). An early morning bus journey finds us cutting across the coastal plain of Choluteca to the border of Honduras where we enter El Salvador, Central America’s least visited country. We continue to drive until we reach the untouched colonial city of Suchitoto, where the streets come alive at the weekends for food and arts festivals and the laid-back locals make this amazing town considered the cultural capital of the country.
We then have the rest of the evening and following day to explore Suchitoto and its surroundings. Take a short hike to the Los Tercios waterfall, try some local delicacies such as chicha, an alcoholic drink made from corn or the traditional pupusas, thick corn tortillas with meat, vegetable and cheese fillings. For those looking for to immerse in the natural surroundings there is an array of biodiversity to discover in the area.
Day 18-19: Copan
Suchitoto - Copan (Honduras). We make our way across the remote region of western Honduras to the village of Copan, home of the world famous Mayan ruins of Copan. The region is famous for its velvet green hills and whitewashed colonial buildings where the main form of transport is still horse and carriage and prosperity comes from the coffee and tobacco trade. We spend the night at the cobbled village of Copan Ruinas, close to the site where we have the opportunity to go for a short hill walk to some nearby hot springs.
The next day we explore the Copan ruins, considered to be one of the most spectacular sites of ancient Mayan civilisation. Here we uncover the secrets and mysteries behind the history of this lost city through the hundreds of hieroglyphs that were sculpted into the stairs before the city was abandoned due to the constant droughts that destroyed crops in the area. Within 100 years the jungle reclaimed the city until the Spanish rediscovered it in the 16th century.
Day 20-21: Antigua
Copan - Antigua (Guatemala). After breakfast we take the 10-minute drive to the Guatemalan border before continuing onto colonial city Antigua, the land of eternal spring, set against a spectacular backdrop of towering volcanoes. The rest of day 20 and all of day 21 are free to explore this picturesque colonial city, which cannot fail to enchant, with its cobbled streets, parks and plazas, and colourful street markets, all set against a spectacular backdrop of awe inspiring volcanoes. Here, the local indigenous people dressed in colourful costumes can be found selling their crafts and textiles and as the cultural centre of Guatemala, Antigua is an ideal place to experience the traditional music, architecture and art of the country.
Day 22: Antigua
Our tour comes to an end today and it’s time to make our way to the airport and return home. We can arrange post tour accommodation if you want to extend your stay.
Touring with On The Go Tours
Group tours are their speciality. It's what they do well. They started with one trip to Egypt and their Middle East and North Africa portfolio now includes Jordan, Israel and Morocco. Featuring exotic destinations in Europe like Turkey, Iceland, Croatia & Russia, and the colourful countries of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the subcontinent, they're now very much a Southeast Asia specialist too, with Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand proving very popular. Japan was recently added as a group touring destination to complement China in the Far East. And Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico are their top picks in Latin America.
Visiting exotic far flung places across the globe, their group tours, which generally consist of between 16-18 people, strike a balance between well-planned itineraries which include key highlights and spare time to do your own thing as well. They include unique travel experiences and there’s lots of real local interaction too, giving you a true flavour of the countries you visit. They organise everything to make your holiday seamless; your transportation, complimentary airport transfers, sightseeing, guiding and some meals. Your tour will be lead by their expert and passionate tour leaders. Captivating, informative and caring, they will ensure your holiday is fun and hassle-free. And, with international English speaking guests and no upper age limit, their tours make for a really fun, unique and eclectic group mix.