Panama to Costa Rica to NIcaragua and up North...
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Nov 4, 2012 3:49 AM Last Post By: indochinedreams
Nov 1, 2012 7:57 PM
Good that you' re speaking Spanish, that can be essential when travelling these parts of the world and people appreciate it!
1. Is it safe to carry an expensive camera? Yes, landscape photography is quite a common activity here. But these countries are in the developing world and suffer some severe effects of the world economic crisis. Many people are poor and generally speaking, it is best not too stand out too muchof the crowd by flashing around expensive gadgets, jewellery, wads of cash in towns, bars etc. Put them in the hotel safe when not in use, or better still, leave your most valued items at home.
2. Places to see and skip...most travellers would visit Bocas del Toro in Panama, Puerto Viejo- Cahuita (Tortuguero), Arenal- Monteverde and the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica, Granada, San Juan del Sur, Ometepe and Leon in Nicaragua. Then a long-haul bustrip from Managua to Ciudad de Guatemala, to bypass Honduras and El Salvador altogether. Then Antigua, Lago de Atitlan and Tikal in Guatemala.
3. What to take? Travel insurance. An umbrella and sunhat for the outdoors activities. Bug repellent, sunscreen lotion etc. etc.There are lists online with handy items to bring to the tropics.
4. Onward ticket? Borders here are often a hassle. Immigration officers might force you to buy a busticket out of the country, even when you show them your ticket home. Also, they might be corrupt and want an exit tax that doesn't exist. Be stoic about it, just like the Latino people.
5. Price of transport. Public buses are cheap! $ 20 for 500 kms, in that pricerange. Private shuttles are more expensive, of course.
6. Safety. This is a big issue in Central America and in the discussions here on the TT. Study your destinations. Read the travel advice that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues. Be cautious and always use common sense. Like you would do at home, right?
7. Climate in february? Dry and warm as it is the verano (summer) though it can rain on any given day at the Caribbean side. Higher altitudes (Antigua, for instance) are cooler, so bring a sweater or 2.
Happy travels to you! I live on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica btw. PM me if you want.
Nov 1, 2012 8:07 PM
1Onward ticket? Borders here are often a hassle. Immigration officers might force you to buy a busticket out of the country, even when you show them your ticket home. Also, they might be corrupt and want an exit tax that doesn't exist. Be stoic about it, just like the Latino people.
There are no hassles at the borders, most Passport holders dont require a Visa prior to crossing and many of the borders are almost free. So what if they enforce Onward Travel, immigration is every countries own rules, they could not be much simpler than in Central America.
Nov 1, 2012 9:36 PM
2I don't mind Central American borders, but there's no arguing with the fact that many people consider them difficult--more difficult, for example, than South American borders. Saying "there's no hassle" is a bit misleading.
OP, your safety depends on your own common sense and street smarts. If you go wandering on deserted beaches carrying your camera gear, you increase your chances of being ripped off. Look disorganized, with stuff hanging off in all directions and multiple zippered pockets hanging half-open and you'll attract the kind of attention you're not interested in. Have your hands full of camera gear in a crowded bus station or market and it's not unlikely someone will pick your pocket. Leave it in your hotel room while you're out eating dinner and you might return to find it vanished. Etc.
You are trying to see far too much in a short time for someone with an interest in photography. Narrow it way, way down: bits of two countries will be plenty, and if photography is really that important you might think about flying from one to the next (unless they're right next door to each other). 16 days is not an unreasonable amount of time to spend exploring Panama alone....or Costa Rica....or Honduras, or Nicaragua. It's a bit long for El Salvador (alone), but a bit short for Guatemala.
Even if you don't pay attention to anything else I say, please reconsider that side trip to Tegucigalpa. You've got more important places to go.
Hope that's helpful.
Nov 2, 2012 5:12 AM
3Agree, 16 days is way too short. But if you've booked panama and guat city already? Have two nights in Panama City. Go to Casco Viejo for half a day. Take photos of the people, the crumbling buildings pre restoration, the graffiti. Go to the canal. with any luck there will be a ship there and you can get a scale shot before they widen the canal. You could bus it from PC up to Nica, you will have to go through San Jose but maybe you can just keep going, or if timing doesn't work there is a hotel at the Ticabus station. Get the bus to Nica that stops at Granada. Go to Granada for restored city photos, and las Isletas, and volcanos with restored city in front. Go to Ometepe for lake, volcano, time away from city. Skip Managua, go to Leon for crumbling old city, pacific black sand beaches, and volcano boarding and hiking. And photos. Carry on to Esteli for cowboys, street art, mountain hikes possibly on horseback and home stays. Bus it into Guatemala and get a taxi to Antigua for about $30. Have a couple of nights there. Go to chichicastenango for market photography. Go to Atitlan for volcanic lake and peace and Mayan villages.
If you did that with one night in most places you would be on a fast trip through CA and expecting a lot of stuff to work perfectly which it doesn't always. You would need to be able to speak enough Spanish to organize trips quickly especially private tours or taxis if you want time to be taking photos or to dictate your own routes. But there's no time for finding animals, many beach visits, old temples, etc. so work out what type of landscape you like and pick the country accordingly? I would just try for one for say 10 days, with maybe a couple of days in panama at the start and in Antigua/Atitlan at the end...
Nov 2, 2012 7:33 AM
Nov 4, 2012 3:49 AM
5Hmmm.... You should be. Getting around is going to take you a lot longer than I think you've allocated. Unless you are happy spending one night in most places, and some people are, but how do you really see the country? I love photography and do a lot of it but you can't see Central America only through a lens. Or a bus window.
Edited by: indochinedreams
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