Central America Branch FAQ
Replies: 68 - Last Post: Feb 5, 2013 4:47 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Apr 18, 2006 1:33 AM
Jun 24, 2006 3:46 PM
31What is the best way to learn Spanish?
A. First, bottom line, you are not going to become fluent or even conversational by taking classes at the local community college. You will however establish a good base for pronunciation, verb conjugation and vocab.
Second, you must completely immerse yourself in a culture. I like Costa Rica and Guatemala because they speak clearly and the people seem to be open and understanding. You need to live with some host families for at least 3 months and make sure they do not speak your first language.
Third, you need to enroll in a school that specializes in teaching Spanish. Make sure you get a minimum of 4 hours class time per day. The more intensive the better. Check out www.amerispan.com for a list of schools.
Fourth, constantly write down words and phrases you don't know, look them up and memorize them.
Fifth, most important step--SPEAK SPANISH! It doesn't matter how ridiculous you sound. People are going to laugh. Don't take it personally. Make fun of yourself. You must do this to acquire the rhythm of speaking another language.
Edited by: Irene_Adler
Aug 6, 2006 6:04 AM
32How can I find out about travelling to Honduras or volunteering there?
Current Honduras Information
Honduras Tips is not only the official travel guide to Honduras, it is also a well detailed and up to date guide to many locations around the country. The website may not always be as up to date as the most recent printed issue but it is definately the best place to start when looking for places to go in Honduras.
Project Honduras is the place to start if you are more interested in volunteering or social development issues. Project Honduras, known as an unconventional movement, brings together thousands of people involved in all sorts of different social programs and projects throughout Honduras. THe high point of the Project Honduras year is an annual conference held in Copan Ruinas during the month of October. If you are looking at "helping" in Honduras you may wish to start by attending this conference.
Edited by: Irene_Adler
Jan 7, 2007 5:54 PM
33Land transport update on Guatemala. I've rewritten my website transportation section on Guatemala to reflect the recent changes in van service.
Biggest mistake travelers to Guat make is to get all anal about bus schedules and bus company websites. Except for Tica Bus, Hedman Alas and a couple other internationals ain't no such critters. (Yet) For the vast majority of the couple thousand buses on the road at any given time there are no websites, no schedules and no brakes. These are the chicken buses...either old US school buses or built by the Blue Bird bus company which does school buses too. They just cram in a few extra rows of seats and weld a roof rack on. The bus leaves when the driver wakes up, finishes eating and says goodbye to his mistress. The automated baggage system is the scrawny kid working as the bus driver's assistant. He climbs all over the outside of the bus as it carrooms down the road. He also sells tickets and makes change...don't worry..he remembers who has paid and who has change coming. If you gotta change buses...just be sure someone knows where you want to go. They will hand you off. Never fails.
Almost all buses run only during the day. Exception is the Guat. City to Flores/Santa Elena run. Night bus is safe and saves you a hotel. If you are in remote villages you might find that the only bus out leaves ungodly early...like 4am. Indians heading into bigger towns...almost always on business...like to get there, get done, and then get home same day. Most can't afford overnight stays in a hotel.
So what if you don't want to take a chicken bus? Longer distances many bus companies run the equivalent of old Greyhounds. You get a seat, no livestock. No potties...but they all seem to make potty stops. Except for the run to Flores/Santa Elena no ride is super long. Higher end is dominated by Ticabus... international.. Hedman Alas and Linea Dorada. For internal trips I personally think they are overpriced. As of Jan. 2007 government policy is to move all bus companies that service othere towns out to the edge. Eventual goal is to have a centralized bus terminal or two along the lines of Mexico City. Expect constant changes.
Your other option is to take a shuttle van through a travel agency. This is the best way to get from the airport to Antigua. Some outfits have realized that there is a market on some runs for a better than chicken bus service..but cheaper than the luxury lines. Most notable..the morning pullman run by Tranportes Rebuli from Antigua to Pana. Also...a van service goes from Antigua to Copan. Used to be Monarcas but they folded. Also a van runs from Antigua to San Cristobal for around $60. But it will get you there in one day. Something that you gotta be lucky and catch all the connections just so to do by regular bus. The bigger agencies were putting together fairly frequent runs elsewhere and of course all will offer a private shuttle at high rates. Gradually, the system is evolving. A cooperative of vans is slowly growing. Folks are pooling vans, passengers, expenses and profits to offer regular service on a growing number of routes. Using cell phones they are connecting the vans to exchange passengers. Example, I took a day trip from Antigua to Chichi. Normal leave time from Chichi is 2pm but I was conducting business and needed more time. There was a van leaving Chichi for Xela at 4pm. They called their van going from Pana to Antigua as the two were scheduled to pass through Los Encuentros at about the same time and I was able to switch. No fancy computer system needed...though who knows...maybe one will be instituted at some point. The knitting together of van routes will no doubt be without a lot of rhyme or reason at first but seems a logical outcome. For the forseeable future just post your questions on line. No centralized schedules yet...but that too will come. At least the options are growing.
Important centers...there are three main crossroads in Guatemala. Cuatro Caminos...turn off from the Panamericana to Xela. Los Encuentros...stop on the Panamericana where you can snag a bus down to Lake Atitlan or up to Chichicastenango. Lastly, Rio Hondo...Panamericana splits to go up to Rio Dulce and the Peten or down to Copan. Getting off at anyone of these will let you soon get a connection. Lots of snack vendors. In fact they are turning into small towns. Just watch your bag...really very safe.
Sep 8, 2007 6:21 PM
34How to choose a Spanish school in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala
A. What school you go to doesn't matter that much. Really.
B. The websites 123teachme and Guatemala365 will give you some websites to look at; there are reviews, also, but for the most part everyone loves their Spanish school, and the reviews can be overwhelming to read through and not that helpful.
C. Prices don't vary all that much, due to market competition. Unless you're on a REALLY tight budget, it makes more sense to go with whatever school you like than to bargain-shop.
D. Decide on your main goal in Xela. Is learning Spanish most important to you, or is it big for you to have a combination between learning Spanish and going on trips/partying/making friends? Look at the school websites for a sense of the focus on instruction vs. trips. This isn't foolproof, but it may help.
E. Email the schools you're interested in with any questions. A school that responds thoroughly and quickly has probably got it together, if you're into an efficient/businesslike place. (This isn't important to everyone.)
F. Consider not registering beforehand and choosing a school once you get to Xela. You can get a place no matter what the time of year. You won't be able to check out all 70+ schools, and you're only likely to see the ones in Zona 1 if you just wander around, though you could decide on a couple of options beforehand and go visit them before committing. You might also meet people on the bus and decide to study at their school.
G. Remember that you'll always be able to change schools after one week, if you want something else. It's really not a big deal.
H. Schools in Zona 1 are closer to the gringo scene. Schools in other zones are further away from coffee shops and so on, but you won't run into English speakers as often. In any case, Xela is pretty small, very walkable, and has plenty of easy public transport--if your school's in Zona 3, it's easy to walk to the Parque Central whenever you want.
I. See A. Don't stress too much about this. Just go with it.
Oct 23, 2007 3:54 AM
35Getting There & Away
See post#8 on the static Mexico FAQ branch above the Mexico branch regarding bus travel within Mexico. Or see Grupo ADO for fares and schedules regarding onward travel into Mexican territory as they are the major bus company (with near monopoly status) in the areas bordering Central America. Rblakney on Post#35 on the static FAQ branch above the Mexico branch and MostlyMaya.com explain how to get from Palenque to Tikal through the jungle and across the Rio Usumacinta. Very limited roads (or in poor conditions at some parts) and no direct bridge across the river so it's not that straightforward through.
See post#29,post#43, post#51 wich links to other threads or posts on this site regarding (private) sailboats to Colombia and post#54
d for a description of whatever surface travel options available in getting to/from Colombia. There are NO roads through the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia and some areas in the Darien are not safe to travel through due to guerrilla and other criminal activities as well as natural elements (poisonous snakes, lack of consistent trails, weather, etc).
I need more information about getting around in Central America. Can you help?
King Quality All countries EXCEPT Panama and Belize
Tica Bus All countries EXCEPT Belize
TheBusSchedule.com provides something like a trip planner programme where the user puts in an orgin and a destination and the trip planner returns which bus(es) to take to get from here to there. Most bus companies & co-ops do NOT have an online presence showing their contact information, schedules and fares. A google search does show some information on a particular bus company. TheBusSchedule.com is the next closest thing to an online bus schedule. See
TransportationDirectory.co.cc or the below as to what's online.
Besides the above there are additional companies operating shorter routes and usually within adjacent countries rather than the full length of the Central American isthmus.
Grupo ADO offers onward bus into Mexico from various places on the Mexican side of the border with Central America. They also offer bus service from Belize City to Cancun and Merida.
Emar ExpressTravels between San Salvador, Flores & Belize City. Phone Mundo Maya Travel for tickets & schedules: (501) 223 0457 / 223 1235 or verify locally at the Water Taxi terminal at N. Front St and the Swing Bridge or click here for more info,
Fuentes del NorteBelize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
HedmanAlasGuatemala and Honduras
Linea Dorada Guatemala, Mexico, Belize
Maya del Oro Guatemala City-Honduras, El Salvador and between Peten and El Salvador
Melva Internacional (NO website. Guatemalan Tel (502) 2331-0874. Makes the 268-kilometer trip between 3a Av, 1-38, Zona 9, Guatemala City and Terminal PuertoBus on Alameda Juan Pablo II in San Salvador with eight buses a day. The trip takes about five hours. )
Comfort Lines . . Guatemalan Tel 502-2369-0404 or 2369-0456. Makes the 268-kilometer trip between 18a Avenida, 1-96, Zona 15, Vista Hermosa 2 en Guatemala City and Alameda Juan Pablo II, 19 Avenida N in San Salvador (tel: 503-2271-1361 or 2257-8897/98) via San Benito. The trip takes about five hours.)
Transportes CentroAmerica (NO website. Guatemalan Tel 2232-0325. Makes the 268-kilometer trip between 16 Calle, 7-75, Zona 1, Guatemala City and Terminal PuertoBus on Alameda Juan Pablo II in San Salvador. The trip takes about five hours. )
Transportes Galgos Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador
Panaline. Goes between their own terminal 200m. north of San Juan de Dios Hospital on Calle 16 y Av 3a in S Jose, CR. Ph.: 256-8721 or 3980803 and Terminal Albrook in Panama City Ph: 3146383 or 3146647. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Pullmantur San Salvador to Tegucigalpa or Guatemala City
Expreso Panama.Costa Rica, Panama
Sirca (NO website San José terminal on Av. 8 entre Calles 7 y 9. Tel: 223.14.64 to Managua. According to the book it's said to be on Calle 16 y Av 3a. Must be verified. Tel: 267-3833 in Nicaragua to confirm stop/terminal location and schedules)
TransNIca Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras
San Juan Express (NO website. At Hotel San Juan on 2a Calle entre 6a y 7a Av; Santa Elena Tel: 7921-0041). Guatemala, Belize, Mexico. They also offer transport arrangements to Palenque from Santa Elena/Flores.
TransMermex El Salvador, Gautemala
There are three "classes" of bus service. There is no uniformity in defining "classes" of service and it all varies between operators with a variety of vehicles:
BootnAll Explains more in detail about "system".
Post#35 GoodTimesBob describe the transport scene in Guatemala which is also similar in other central american countries.
The following describes what is availalbe and some links to some websites about bus travel within each country. There are 100's of buses on the roads but very little information about them online:
Since the collapse of the Novelo's monopoly a new zoning system was implemented on Sunday, October 19, 2008. Accordingly, the country is divided into zones: Northern (highway/rural), Southern (highway/rural), Western (highway/rural). Bus providers are restricted to their assigned zones:
In Belize City there are two principal bus terminals located in different locations. The major ones being:
Novelo's Terminal on W Collet Rd & Magazine Rd
Water Taxi Terminal on N Front St and the Swing Bridge for International buses on Linea Dorada, Premier, and San Juan Express to Chetumal or Tikal and water taxi boats to Long Caye (a private resort island), Caye Caulker, and San Pedro Caye
In smaller places, there are bus stops. However, the most common way of catching a bus is by flagging it down on the road. On the Northern and Western Highways, bus service is more frequent than on smaller highways and other roads. In some locations, like small towns, buses may run only once a day. Buses are classified as either Regular runs (usual prices) or Express runs (faster, for slightly higher prices). Many buses are old MCI coaches (north American coaches like Greyhound) or school buses, although newer express buses travel the two main highways.
See the below sites for more information:
BelizeBus Blog (by John500 another user on here)
for more detailed information as well as schedules of various bus lines operating within Belize and international service to neighbouring countries
Hickatee.com A local B&B cottage provider in the Toledo District. Dedicating a page to Jame's Bus line on their website showing the bus schedules from Belize City to Punta Gorda on James Bus Lines. Kind of an unofficial page for James Bus.
Wikipedia lists out some routes with National Transport (major carrier).
Furthermore, LanSluder and John500 explain more on the matter in their reply to BytheBodhiTree on this thread. Note that the schedules given in the above links are subject to change without notice.
In Belize City the water taxi terminal is at N Front Street and the north end of the Swing Bridge. See links below for additional locations in Belize City. In Chetumal the terminal for both San Pedro Water Jets and San Pedro Belize Exrpress is a Muelle Fiscal in central Chetumal
D-Express (tel 501-222-4506) sails on Fridays to Puerto Cortes, Honduras from Palencecia and Big Creek/Mango Creek and comes back on Monday.
San Pedro Water Jets Express (tel 501-226-2194) sails between Belize City to Caye Caulker and San Pedro Ambergris Caye. One daily sailing to Chetumal, QRoo Mexico and back from San Pedro Caye. .
San Pedro Belize Express (tel 501-226-3535) sails between Belize City to Caye Caulker and San Pedro Ambergris Caye on separate routes. One daily sailing to Chetumal, QRoo Mexico and back from San Pedro Ambergris Caye.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi (tel 501-223-5752) goes between Belize City, Caye Caulker and San Pedro Ambergris Caye on a contiguous route.
Hokey Pokey (tel 501-223-2376) goes between Independence and Palencencia in souther Belize.
Coastal Express (tel 501-226-2007) offers scheduled ferry service for the entire island of Ambergris Caye and private water taxi and charter service to all coastal locations in northern Belize. They operate from the Amigos del Mar Dock and offer runs up all the way north to Blue Riff and down south all the way to Pelican Reef Hotel.
John500 also have some information (and updates) regarding ferries & water taxis on his BelizeBus Blog
GuideToBelize.info lists out the various ferry/water taxi companies from the above and ADDITIONAL companies NOT listed in the above such as the Nesymein Nedy going btwn Dangriga, Punta Gorda and Pto Cortes and more (see the link).
Most bus companies in Guatemala do NOT have website. Although a few do and the below are the the companies with their own websites:
ADN Guatemala City-Rio Dulce-Santa Elena/Flores
Linea DoradaGuatemala City to Santa Elena/Flores or to Tapachula, Mexico
Fuentes del NorteGuatemala City to Peten, the western highlands, Honduras and El Salvador
LiteGuaAntigua-Guatemala City-Rio Dulce, Morales, or Pto Barrios
Maya del Oro Guatemala City-Mazatenango, Retalhuleu, Coatepeque, Tecun Uman, Talisman, El Carmen, Malacatan
Transportes Galgos Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango & Tapachula or to San Salvador.
Rutas OrientalesGuatemala City to S Pedro Sula or Esquipulas
Transportes Monja Blanca Guatemala City to Coban.
San Juan Travel (NO website. At Hotel San Juan on 2a Calle entre 6a y 7a Av; Santa Elena Tel: 7921-0041 or email: email@example.com) provides scheduled minibus service to/from Tikal ruins (roughly another 20-30km NE of Flores/Santa Elena) as well as scheduled bus service to Belize and Chetumal via Melchor Mencos on San Juan Express. They also arrange transportation from Santa Elena to Palenque via Usumancita/El Bethel/Yaxchillan and rent 4x4 vehicles as well. Not the best service (according to many posters) but a virtual monopoly on the market up there, especially with shuttles between Santa Elena/Flores and Tikal
The below are third party sites that list out additional bus companies, their Guatemala City locations and where they go from Guatemala City:
AboutGuatemala.com domestic bus line listing
AboutGuatemala.com International bus line listing
Horariodebuses.com map of the bus station locations in Guatemala City
The below are travel agencies based in Antigua, Panajachel, Guatemala City, Xela and/or other "touristy" spots that offer turismo shuttles betwen Antigua, Guatemala City, La Aurora Airport, Panajachel, Chichicastenango (on market days), Monterrico, and Xela. They also offer organized tours and activities locally for one day or to several places in several days on tours, hiking trips, etc. The prices are about the same, give or take a few quetzales.
Andrenaline Tours in addition to the above destinations they also include shuttle to San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico, S Pedro La Laguan, Sayaxe, Copan, and Coban
Rainbow Travel Center
Guatemala Travel Additional service to Santiago and San Cristobal de las Casas.
Or check with Inguate the national tourist agency for additional companies. Other ways can be by posting a new thread asking for recommendations and see what other Thorntree users say.
The rest are, mainly, on chicken buses They're frequent, cheap, and everywhere and could be the only thing available from some places. On the other hand they're also dangerously overloaded, recklessly driven, can be poorly maintained, and can be targeted for robbery just as well. GoodTimeBob describes more about them onpost 34.
In Guatemala City there are multiple bus stations throughout the city as each company maintain their own stations at their offices. Click here for a map. The main ones are at:
Buses to Antigua
1a Avenida entre 3a y 4a Calle, Zona 7 and tourist shuttle vans and mini buses from the airport (zona 13). Verify locally.
Terminal de Buses/Central de Transferencia
Is or was in the area at 4a Av between Calles 6 y 9 in zona 4. The city council may of shut it down and relocated it to the new Central de Transferencia de Transporte (CENTRA) in Zona 12 in the southern outskirts of town or at El Trebol, at/around the intersection of Calz. Roosevelt/Diag 12 (east-west) and Av Bolivar/Blvd Raul Aguilar Batres (north-south) in zona 8. Both places are along the transmetro bus route. The chicken buses could also be dropping off and picking up passengers at various locations too. Must be verified locally.
In Xela/Quetzaltenango the main chicken bus terminal is Minerva in Zona 3 about 5km NW from the central plaza just north of the Parque Zoological. Local buses are south of the covered market building from the Minerva terminal building. While other pullman/first class services maintain their own terminals/offices in a variety of locations.
Click here on XelaWho.com wich explains about chicken bus travel from Xelau/Quetzaltnango
Xelapages.com lists their locations in Xela.
Xelawho.com provides a 'schedule' and information on getting from Xela/Quetzaltenango by chicken bus.
On other areas:
Coanav.net Lists bus schedules coming from Coban
Mostlymaya.com also lists additional information regarding traveling around Peten.
There are regular bus connections all day long between all major cities and towns. Services are cheap and reliable in general, but when the weather is bad, delays can be the case. Buses are old American school buses or the Brazilian made Marcopolo, Busscar or Comil Mercedes. The buses are consistently numbered with the route number and destination pairs (or each end of the route) emblazoned above the windscreen. Take an Especial or Super-Especial bus whenever possible. The price is higher, but the buses are safer, in better condition, don't get as crowded as normal buses. They stop less frequently and usually have air-conditioning. These are the closest thing to "upscale" within the country. Bus stations are not a fancy place, to say the least. Many buses originate and terminate in San Salvador and services start early in the morning but become much less frequent after 6 or 7 pm.
In San Salvador there are four principal bus terminals located in different locations. The major ones being:
Terminal de Occidente.Blvd Venezuela y 49a Av Sur, Col Roma SWof El Centro (buses going west like Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Ahuachapan, Metapan, etc. as well as TransMermex to Guatemala City)
Terminal de Oriente Alameda Juan Pablo II y Blvd del Ejercito, east of El Centro (buses going to/coming from northern & eastern destinations like Suchitoto, La Palma, San Miguel, Golfo Fonesca, etc)
Terminal Sur or Terminal San Marcos on Autopista Comalapa 8-10km south of S Salvador (buses going to/coming from the south like the Costa del Sol, Usulutan, Zacatecolucaetc. etc)
Terminal Puerto Bus Alameda Juan Pablo II y 19a Av N, south of the Centro Gobierno for International buses to other points in Central America like Melva, King Quality, etc. Note that Pullmantours have their own terminal at Hotel Sheraton Presidente on Av La Revolución, Zona Rosa and TicaBus have their own terminals at the Hotel San Carlos on Calle Concepcion 121 (y Av 10a) el Centro and Terminal S Benito on Blvd Hipodromo 301; Col San Benito.
The below are some of the routes within the country.
FENADESAL operates a limited train service between San Salvador, Ciudad Delgado & Apopa. Click here for a schedule on HorarioDeTren.com and here for a YouTube video of the train in operation.
The rest are on buses.
#29 - from Terminal de Oriente to Metrocentro via El Centro.
#30B - along Blvd de los Heroes, up Alameda Roosevelt and part of Paseo Escalon, then turning west to run past the Zona Rosa.
#34 - from Terminal de Oriente through El Centro to Terminal de Occidente and out along the Carretera Interamericana, past the Mercado de Artesanias.
#44 - along Blvd de los Heroes, onto 49a Av Sur close to the Terminal de Occidente, past the Universidad de Centroamerica and out past the US Embassy to Santa Elena.
#52 - along Alameda Juan Pablo II, past Metrosur and on to El Salvador del Mundo (opposite the Telecom office), then up Paseo Escalon past the Galerias shopping mall.
#101A/B/C/D - from El Centro up Alameda Roosevelt to Plaza de las Americas, then on to Santa Tecla.
San Salvador to:
Costa del Sol (#495, Terminal del Sur; every 30min; 3hr);
Joya de Ceran (#108, Terminal de Occidente; every 30min; 1hr);
La Libertad (#102, 37a Ave N at Calle El Progresso; every 10min; 1hr);
Passes in front of Terminal Occidente along Blvd Venezuela on the way to La Libertad.
Lago de Ilopango (#15, 3a C Pte at 1a Av Nte; every 10min; 45min);
La Palma (#119 Terminal de Oriente; every 1hr; 3hr)
La Union (#301, Terminal de Oriente; every 15min; 3-4hr);
Panchimalco (#17, Av 29 de Agosoto; every 15min; 45min);
Parque Balboa (#12, Av 29 de Agosto, south of the Mercado Central; every 15min; 30min);
San Andres (#201, Terminal de Occidente; every 10min; 1hr);
San Miguel (#310, Terminal de Oriente; every 15min; 3-4hr);
Santa Ana (#201, Terminal de Occidente; every 10min; 1hr 20min-2hr);
; San Vicente (#116, Terminal de Oriente; every 10min; 1hr 30min);
Sonsonate (#205, Terminal de Occidente; every 10min; 1hr 30min);
Suchitoto (#129, Terminal de Oriente; every 30min; 1.5hr)
Comalapa (#138, 8a Calle Oriente y 2a Av S, Col Centro (couple blocks south of Plaza Barrios); every 30min; 1.5hr);
Passes in front of Terminal Sur along Autopista Comalapa. Does not enter into the airport grounds but rather pass by the airport.
Or contact AEAS (Asociacion de Empresarios de Autobuses Salvadorenos) (Tel: 225 2661) at C 27 Pte 1132, Colonia Layco. (no website)
Most (if not all) of the bus companies or co_ops that operate vehicles on the above routes do not have websites.
Anyone riding the buses (visitor or local) must take caution in riding the buses and microbuses that are seen around the country. The buses are often crammed and it is very easy to get robbed. The buses are cheap and are a great way to get around, but remember that as a visitor you are at a higher risk of being robbed. If you must ride a bus take extra care of yourself and your belongings.
LonelyPlanet.com (yes this site) for list of bus routes and how to get to/from bus stations
AlfaTravelGuide regarding international buses
My response to Cresti (the OP) regarding getting around El Salvador safely and comfortably. LostTrekker on #11 of that thread also had some good input to the OP too. She also included links to her blog on that thread too.
HedmanAlas From San Pedro Sula they go to Tegucigalpa, Ruinas Copan, La Ceiba, Tela, and Purto Cortes.
Transportes Viana goes between Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba
Transportes Mirna from Tocoa they go to Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, Tela, and San Pedro Sula
Transportes Rey Express travels primarily between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
Except the above, most bus companies in Honduras do not have websites. Here are some of the other major bus companies below:
In San Pedro Sula most bus companies are beginning to use the Gran Central Metropolitana de Autobuses located in a mall a few Km's southwest of downtown (el centro). Other companies may still have their own terminals in various parts of town. Verify locations:
El Rey Express, Barrio Paz Barahona, 9 Avenida 9 and 10 Calle, Telephone: 550 8355. Direct Buses to and from Tegucigalpa, hourly.
Catisa-Tupsa, 2 Avenida 5 and 6 Calle SO, Telephone: 552 1042. Direct Buses to and from Tela and La Ceiba, hourly.
Toritos and Copanecos, Barrio Lempira, 6 Avenida 8 and 9 Calle SO, Telephone: 553 4930. Direct Buses to and from Nueva Ocotepeque via Santa Rosa de Copan, 7 to 8 buses daily.
Citul, Barrio Lempira, 6 Avenida 7 and 8 Calle SO, Telephone: 553 0070. Buses to and from Puerto Cortes, hourly.
In Tegucigalpa there are multiple bus stations as each company operate their own terminals & offices. Most are clustered in Comayagüela, the sister city of Tegucigalpa. It is also reputedly one of the more dangerous parts of the city. If arriving to Comayagüela after dark, do not walk around looking for a place to stay. Even in the day, walking from bus stations in Comayagüela to a hotel or hostel at any distance away would be a bit risky. Other bus companies can be located elsewhere too, so verify.
Here are some bus companies and their telephone numbers in Tegucigalpa:
La Aurora (tel. 504/237-3647) to La Aurora from 8a Calle entre 6 y 7 Av
Cotraipbal (tel. 504/237-1666) to Corocito & Trujillo from 11a Calle entre 7a y 8a Av
Cristina (tel. 504/220-0117) to La Ceiba, Atlantdia, Tela, Saba and Olanchito from Entrada Col. Tiloarque
Discovery (tel. 504/222-4256) to Catacamas & Juticalpa from 13a Av y 7a Calle
Discua/Contreras (tel. 504/230-0470) to Danli from Contiguo Mercado Jacaleapa
El Dandy (tel. 504/225-2596)
El Rey Express (tel. 504/237-8561) to San Pedro Sula,
Choluteca, San Marcos de Colón from 9a Calle entre 6a y 7a Av
Empresas Unidas (tel. 504/222-2071)
Junqueño (tel. 504/237-2921) to Santa Barbara & Comayagua from 8a Av entre 12a y 13a Calle
Hedman Alas (tel. 504/237-7143) to San Pedro Sula, Tela and La Ceiba 11a Av y 13a Calle
Kamaldy (tel. 504/220-0117) to El Progreso, Tela, San Juan y La Ceiba.
from 8a Av y 13a Calle
Lila (tel. 504/237-6870) to Marcala from 8a Av y 13a Calle
Mi Esperanza (tel. 504/225-1505) to Coluteca from Blvd de La Comunidad de Europea
Saenz (tel. 504/233-4229) to San Pedro Sula & Chuloteca Centro Comercial Perisur Blvd. Comunidad Economica Europea
Santa Lucia, Valle de Ángeles to Santa Lucia, Valle de Ángeles from Av de los Próceres y Av Rep. Dominicana
Sultana (tel. 504/237-8101) To Santa Rosa de Copán, San Pedro Sula, Comayagua from 8a Ave y 12a Calle
Transportes Junqueños (tel. 504/237-2921) to Santa Barbara & Comayagua from 8a Av entre 12a y 13a Calle
Transportes Ulúa (tel. 504/238-1827) to El Progreso & San Pedro Sula from 18a Calle entre 4a y 5a Av
Toritos y Copánecos (tel. 504/237-8101) to Nueva Ocatepeque
Viana (tel. 504/225-6583) To San Pedro Sula & La Ceiba from Gasolinera Esso Presidencial Bulevard Fuerzas Armadas
The below are additional information on bus travel from other online sources:
Copan Ruinas Chamber of Commerce Transport Page
Colosuca.com on getting to/from Gracias
Fahrplancenter.com compiles a list of available train services and their schedules in Honduras. Verify availability and schedule locally.
Utila Princess goes between La Ceiba and Isla Utila
Galaxy Wave II info. given on roatanisland.net . Goes between La Ceiba and Islas Roatan
Belizeferry.com profiles the above as well and may be the operator of the above two vessals
The companies with their own websites:
Pulmitan de Liberia
Transportes del Norte Ltda
Transportes Quepos Puntarenas
Here are the other "turismo" shuttles in smaller vehicles:
Most of the other companies don't maintain websites but here are some third party sites from travel agents, tour guides, frequent travelers, and others that give the full schedules & other relevant information:
Costa-Rica-guide.com As suggsted by rg8apples.
CostaRicabustickets.comA booking agency and shuttle service from hotel to appropriate bus terminal in Costa Rica. For late arrivals and early departures they also provide accommodations (meaning sleeping rooms) in their 'waiting room' and shuttle people to the appropriate bus station the next morning
VisitCostarica.coma site by Instito Costarricence de Turismo (ICT). The link is directly to a pdf document that lists the bus companies and their information
In San Jose there are four principal bus terminals two of which are located just west of central S Jose near the San Juan del Dios Hospital. The major one being:
Terminal Coca Cola. on 1a Av entre Calles 16 y 18 north of S Juan del Dios Hospital. A well known landmark where many taxi drivers would know.
The others are at:
Terminal Monteverde or Altantico Norte north from Coca Cola on Av 9 y Calle 12(buses going to/coming from northern destinations like Monteverde, Sarapaqui, La Fortuna, etc)
Terminal Caribe on Calle Central north of Av 13 due north of central S Jose (buses going to/coming from the Caribbean coast like Puerto Limon.
Terminal Musoc on Av 22 entre C/ Central y C/ 1 south of the central plaza (for buses to/from San Isirido)
Some of the bus lines have their own stops, offices, or terminals instead of calling at the above terminals. They are generally clustered in around Terminal Coca Cola and Atlantico Norte and in areas between the two terminals. They could also be located elsewhere too. So verify with the above links.
Map on Horariodebuses.com shows where some of the companies have their own terminals are at in S Jose, CR
Be aware that the Coca Cola Bus Terminal is located in San Jose’s Coca Cola district– also called the Zona Roja, or the Red Light District of San Jose. Zona Roja is one of San Jose’s most notorious areas for pickpocketing and petty theft. Much of this crime is directed towards tourists and travelers, especially in and around the San Jose bus terminal itself. Keep an eye on your bags and backpacks at all times, and keep your passport and important document in an underclothes money belt. Don’t let anyone else watch or handle your baggage and be wary if anybody approach you for money, directions, to 'offer help', or just to 'chat'. A scam or sneak theft could be in the making. Better yet get a taxi to come to or leave from the bus terminals.
There are trains operating in Costa Rica between Pavas (Metrópolis III) - La Universidad Latina in Zapote via downtown/central San Jose; Heredia - San José, and San Antonio de Belén - San Jose on three separate routes. See:
HorarioDelTren.com and TrenUrbano for fare and schdule information.
Their are 100's of companies operating vehicles to everywhere from everywhere, Nothing online (from what I can tell) from the companies/Co-ops themselves nor third party that gives specific routes & schedules.
The following links are the only sites that give some basic information and may be outdated to so got to check locally.
nicatour.net from Granada
nicatour.net on Managua Transport
living-history-nicaragua.com explains more or click here for schedules from living-history-nicaragua.com.
Local buses stop very frequently and to travel on them is to learn your way around the city. Feel free to ask the drivers or conductors for your desired location as they are very polite. Because of the inconsistencies or the lack of a street numbering/naming conventions it's best to get a taxi from one bus station to another or to anywhere else in town.
For major destinations, buses leave every 30-45 minutes from several bus stations:
From mercado Roberto Humbres:Departures for Granada,Masaya,Rivas(to reach San jorge for ferries to Isla de Ometepe) and Tipitapa. 'Expresos' and 'directs' depart hourly from the left outgoing side of the bus plaza.
From mercado Israel Lewites: departures for Chinandega, Jinotepe, Leon and Pochomil. Expresos depart frequently for Chinandega and Leon.
From mercado Mayoreo: departure for Boaco, Esteli, Jugigalpa, Matagalpa, Ocotal, Rama, Siuna and Somoto. Expresos depart frequently for Esteli and Matagalpa.
From U.C.A. (Universidad de CentroAmerica - Central America university) depart expresos for Granada, Masaya, Jinotepe and Carazo. Expresos depart every 20 minutes
International buses have their own terminals. There are no addresses nor an organised and consistent street naming & numbering system in Managua (or most places in Nicaragua for the matter). So the addresses are given in their relative locations to major landmarks (or roadways/highways that ARE named):
Rotonda de Metrocentro,
300 Mts al lago,
50 Mts arriba,
2 Cuadras arriba Antiguo Cine Dorado, Barrio Bolonia.
Final calle 27 de mayo, AV. Bolivar, frente al costado oeste de Plaza Inter,
TEL. (505) 222-3065 228-1454
The co-ops or companies operating these buses don't their own websites.
On getting to the Corn Island (Isla Maiz) from the Bluefields.
For bus schedules between David and Panama City.
Gran Terminal de Albrook The main bus terminal from Panama City. Click on "Ir" button at the grey area after scolling and picking the province in the white line under "Escoger a la Provinincia" and it will return the bus company and schedule information.
Panama Canal Railroad runs a regularily scheduled train between Panama City & Colon.
Most Panamanian bus companies do NOT maintain websites online.
Bocas MarineTours Sails Almamirante to Bocas de Toros. The other company is Taxi 25. Or click here for other information.
There are NO regular ferries from Panama (on either the Caribbean or Pacific side) to Colombia or Islas San Andres (Colombian terriotory). Although it is still possible to make arrangements with local captains/skippers to sail with them on their boats. Which takes about 5days. Wariortet (another poster on here) did and here is is his/her report and how (s)he went about it and who (s)he contacted (including web links). Additional links are shown in the above under each country header
Edited by: anyone101
Mar 15, 2008 10:12 AM
36I have a question about Costa Rica not yet answered in these FAQs.
Some extra information for you:
Costa Rica driving times (map that shows you times between destinations)
Costa Rica visa requirements (for lots of countries)
What to bring to Costa Rica (details items you will need depending on what you plan to do)
Costa Rica weather (yes - there are a lot of sites offering info about weather but this includes a breakdown of what to expect in many different locations inside Costa Rica)
Getting married in Costa Rica (details about the legal requirements and sources of wedding planners)
Edited by: Irene_Adler
May 16, 2008 6:48 AM
37I want travel information from Thorn Tree posters who have been to Nicaragua recently:
These two travellers shared their trip in a series of reports, covering the majority of the main venues a traveler would want to enjoy- It was filed in May 2008.
PART One http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=14123225#14123225
PART Two http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=14127975#14127975
PART Three Final http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=14131072#14131072
June 2008 trip Report http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=14233633#14233633
Edited by: Irene_Adler
Aug 8, 2008 12:04 PM
38San Juan la Laguna, Guatamela: The hidden gem of the lake
Laguna Atítlan is one of the most magical places in the country of Guatemala. Located just 2 hours from the historic colonial city of Antigua, it has long been a favorite spot for tourist from within Guatemala and from around the world. This massive crater lake is surround by mountains and volcanos, and the multicolored sunrises and sunsets will stay in your memories forever.
But with it's popularity comes a price. The most popular town on the lake is Panajachel. Most people who come to Atítlan never make it out of this town. While the town is beautiful, its popularity have caused the street to be lined with vendors selling overpriced goods, and it is almost impossible to walk more than 5 feet without being bothered by a TukTuk driver or somebody trying to convince you to take a boat ride across the lake (tourist price is $25QTZ, but locals only pay $5QTZ). So to get away, many people head over to the other side of the lake to San Pedro. Located on the other side of the lake this town is much quiter than its sister on the other side. But as the years have advanced, it too has started to is starting to show signs of trinket vendors and tour re-sellers stalking the streets.
So how do you get away? A little known town, located just a few kilometers from San Pedro is called San Juan. Most people simply pass through this town on there way to climb the Mayan nose, or on a shuttle to the market at Chichi, but they are missing out. The quite streets of San Juan hide the subtle change taking place. It is slowly starting to build itself up as a eco-tourism town. The entire town has put together its resources to put together a co-op style tour company (where all the money made, goes back into the town). They offer discounted hikes to the mayan nose (much cheaper than San Pedro), as well as unique tours of the local coffee plantations and a chance to go fishing in the lake with a local fisherman. All guides and tours are run by locals, and all the profits go to support the local community.
But they are aware that many people do not want to stay in a Panajachel or San Pedro, so they have taken the steps to ban people trying to sell tours, or cheap trinkets in the street. You can walk anywhere and the only thing you will hear is a friendly "buenos días" from the locals. Definately a place that should not be missed.
I have nothing to do with this town, I just visited there a few weeks ago, and was really impressed by it.
Oct 18, 2008 6:27 PM
39Rio San Juan River- Costa Rica/Nicaragua border
The below link is a Thread that concerns conditions, lodging, arranging boats, and also has a very detailed report as of October 15th 2008, on the actual trip.
Actual Report by MrTinko-
MY ADVENTURE ON THE RIO SAN JUAN
I left the house in Llorente de Flores (part of San Joaquin) at 5:30 am Oct 11, 2008. I had discovered that fortunately, the Los Chiles bus operated by Transporte San Carlos could be flagged down anywhere along the PISTA, and so did not have to go to the terminal in San Jose or Alajuela. The bus which was supposed to leave San Jose at 5:30 am, finally arrived in front of Firestone about 5:55 am. I boarded and paid the necessary 2.205 colones to Los Chiles. I then settled into my seat for the 6 hour ride with every seat full and many people crowded into the aisle standing on top of each other. Thank God I got the last seat at Firestone rather than going to Alajuela to board with the 40 additional people.
The bus arrived in Los Chiles, Costa Rica about 11:30 am. The town appeared to me to be about 6 or 7 blocks long. The final stop of the bus was 2 blocks before the centro. I got off with about 50 other people and there was no one there to meet the bus like usual with kids wanting to help tourists with baggage. I asked a local shopkeeper where the RANCHO TULIPAN HOTEL was and he pointed me toward the river on the other side of the centro plaza. I walked the 500 meters and found it easily. The temperature was very hot, more than 30 degrees I presume.
The Rancho Tulipan is one block behind the Cruz Roja which is in the centro. I think I was the only guest. Fortunately, I had written the owner beforehand to negotiate the corporate rate of 10.000 colones per person, so that the bartender didn’t charge me the $50 USD that extranjeros pay. The hotel DID have air conditioning, hot water with good pressure, television, restaurant, bar, etc. It is clearly the best hotel in town.
Hello Mr. Mark Trinko
For the Hotel it is pleasure to have you here, yes we can have and found a bout with great captain than he can take you from Los Chiles to the Caribbean or to El Castillo Nicaragua.
The Corporate rate change these years know it is ¢10.000,00, it is the same rate table government, but we can talk about your price.
Place let me know how many persons we are talking about for see the boat, see what we can offer you.
Hotel Rancho Tulipán
Tel (506) 2471-14-14
Cel (506) 8865-48-56
After dropping my bag in the room at midday, I set out to walk around the village. That took about 10 minutes. I decided to walk to the pier to check out what I would be experiencing the following morning when I boarded my boat. Between the Rancho Tulipan and the waterfront (50 meters away) I saw the immigration and aduana office. The sign said “salida pais” and “entrada pais”. I knew that I would get my passport stamped to leave Costa Rica that next morning before going to the boat. On the waterfront, I observed a nice small soda. There one could get casada or entero pescado. While eating, I asked them what times the boat departed for San Carlos, Nicaragua the next day. They said it left everyday at noon and 2:30 pm. I returned to the room to cool off and sleep the rest of the afternoon/night.
Upon waking the next morning, I showered and grabbed my bag to head off to the migracion office to get stamped out. That took about 1 minute as there was no line. Outside the building a large man age 50 said in Spanish, “are you going to San Carlos”? I said yes and he tried to explain to me that I had to buy my boat passage from him for 5.000 colones. Being wary of so many stories I have heard about scams at borders, I filled in his official paper with my name and passport number and said I would pay on the boat. He said that if I didn’t buy a playing card from him (boat ticket) that there probably wouldn’t be room as the boat fills up fast. I took a chance.
At the pier, I asked several people about him, including the muni police who drove by. They all said I could pay on the boat. Several boats came and went….these were all Cano Negro tourist boats. At noon, the San Carlos boat came without fanfare and everyone lined up. To my amazement, everyone was holding a playing card. Man did I ever feel like a fool. The man was at the pier and smiled at me. As everyone was boarding, it quickly became obvious that there was not going to be a seat for me. The playing card man was coordinating the boarding and seating. He said, “I told you so”. I tried to talk directly to the Captain, but it appeared the Captain was taking orders from the playing card man. I even offered to ride “arriba” to the Captain. They had tons of baggage to load and while I was standing on the pier hoping for God to intervene, I had opportunity to help them pull some ropes and maneuver the boat around. As they were getting ready to depart with no one on the pier but me and the playing card man, the Captain said to the playing card man that I could sit in the aisle stuffed between 2 fat ladies if I would sit on my bag. Without hesitation, I shoved 6.000 colones in the hand of the Captain and said thanks as I clamored aboard.
Half way thru the boat ride to San Carlos, Nicaragua, the actual border exists with 3 or 4 Nicaragua Army guys with machine guns. They simply collect a list from the boat and ask everyone to put on their life jacket. I did not have one as the playing card man did not issue one to me. Thank God I was stuffed low enuf between the fat ladies that they did not see me.
Another 30 minutes after that, we were at the dock in San Carlos, Nicaragua where everyone got off the boat and lined up to be stamped into the country by their immigrations person. This moved pretty quick. I was surprised that the little kids working the baggage asked everyone for help except me (the only gringo). After I got stamped, I walked next door to the restaurant/bar to eat lunch. Now keep in mind this is 30 minutes after the boat had disembarked……I was the only one in the restaurant. There was no one at the pier as the office closed up once they stamped everyone in. Only 2 of the little baggage kids were playing on the pier. They looked over at me, and I smiled. They looked awful hungry, so I motioned for them to come and join me. I presumed everything in Nicaragua was very cheap, So I told the waitress to make them the same thing I was eating. After a while of talking about English (which they did not know), I suggested to them that if they learn English, they would get better reception from the gringos. They said, “why bother, all you gringos have been brainwashed into believing that we are going to steal your bags and run away”. I was quite surprised, because that IS what us gringos really believe.
I want the reader of this to know, that I truly believe in my heart, that these little kids working the immigrations pier in San Carlos, Nicaragua WILL NOT steal your bags. The town is so small, that everyone knows everyone. They know this and they have dreams of a future other than crime. I got to know them pretty well. Please consider using the little kids to handle your baggage in San Carlos if they are about age 12. I recommend about a 20 cordoba tip.
Knowing that I would be leaving early in the morning, I asked the kids where the nicest, but yet closest hotel was. They showed me the Hotel San Carlos. When we entered, I told the abuela that the kids said it was the finest hotel in San Carlos (hoping to help the kids get a kick-back from the owner). She shoo’d them away and took me upstairs. 100 colones bought me a bed and a fan. The next morning I discovered that the hotel had no water (what a way to start my week in Nicaragua).
I did a walk-around the city before sleeping that afternoon and discovered that I probably truly was in the best hotel in town. There are many pulperia’s that probably get only 1 customer per day. I bought a banana split in the ice cream shop and think I was their only customer of the week. It certainly felt like I was the first gringo tourist ever to overnight there. I DID NOT feel threatened at anytime by criminals. I felt sorry for the whole community. I later learned that 70% of them were unemployed.
Oh yeah, back to the restaurant where I ought the kids lunch. It is right next to the immigrations pier and called the El Rancho restaurant. The total bill was 470 cordobas which I thought was expensive. What really pissed me off was that the owner (Tia) layed in the middle of her restaurant in a hammock and never lifted a finger except to point and tell all the lesser relatives what to do. It was obvious that all the relatives were uneducated and had to kiss her butt to be able to keep their job. I recommend you patronize any other eating establishment than that one due to high prices and more importantly to the Lazy dueno not treating the employees good.
Speaking of bad owners, the soda at the waterfront in Los Chiles also has a very bad owner who yells at the workers and treats them like garbage in front of customers.
San Carlos Boats heading downriver (buy tickets 2 hours before, ask lady in Pepsi stand which man with the clipboard is selling the tickets):
6:30 am and 3:30 pm daily – San Carlos to El Castillo – fast boat 120 cordobas
8:00 am and 3:00 pm daily – San Carlos to El Castillo – slow boat 80 cordobas
Morning Tues, Thurs, Fri – San Carlos to San Juan Norte – fast boat 400 cordobas
Morning Tues, Thurs, Fri – San Carlos to San Juan Norte – slow boat between 150 and 300 cordobas depend where you going
Boats heading upriver from SJN to SC the whole distance:
Morning from SJN Thurs, Sat, Sun – SJN to San Carlos – fast boat 400 cordobas
Morning from SJN Thurs, Sat, Sun – SJN to San Carlos – slow boat between 150 and 300 cordobas depend where you going
Now, the deal with the boats, you simply stand anywhere along the river and flag the boat down as it drives by. In fact, many times you can flag down a private boat and hitch a ride free. Of course, you should not try to do this unless you have multiple days to play the game.
This is a good time for me to comment on your attire. The following things should be considered mandatory (or your life will be hell):
Mud boots over your ankles, lots of mosquito spray, sun screen, socks, t-shirts, underpants (at least 2 per day due to sweat), deodorant
You should definitely wear blue jeans for 2 reasons: so the mud boots don’t scrape your skin on your ankles, and to keep the insects off your skin
EL CASTILLO – get off the boat, turn left on the only main street/sidewalk (there are no vehicles in this town), walk to end of street. Hotel Victoria!!!!!! Only $25 USD per night for air conditioner, free breakfast (whatever I wanted to order, including eggs to order and bacon), hot water with pressure (which you will want after your night in San Carlos without water), very clean. Owned by Grandmother Victoria, but run by her daughter who is excellent. Right outside my hotel room window were constantly 6 or 8 large turtles swimming in their pond. Also there was a caiman there which was cool to see right up close. 487.50 cordobas
Again upon arrival in El Castillo, the little kids handling bags don’t ask the gringos with offer to help (man do we sure have a bad rep). They are patient and wait for you to ask them to help. They are polite and very hungry.
Let me talk a little about El Castillo. Yes there is the castle which everyone should visit. You should also consider NOT bringing a lot of clothing in your suitcase, but rather buying new t-shirts and underwear and socks in El Castillo. Clothing there is VERY cheap. Try to walk outside the main pier area to either end and patronize the smaller shops that sell clothing and Coca-Cola there. They need it more. I happened to be there on Monday, a day of feriado. Everything tourist was closed including the school. Lots of kids live in El Castillo and swim in the river right there under the main street buildings which are all on stilts.
There is no crime in El Castillo (everyone knows everyone) and the Ejercito is on duty all day at the pier. The 2 town muni cops both work night shift and they said their only crime ever was marijuana. This is probably the town where you will want to try the famous Fresh Water Shrimp in one of the restaurants. You will probably be the only customer of the day and the owner himself will appreciate your patronage. It is illegal to extract the fresh water shrimp for sale to others, although everyone does it with no enforcement, but that is the reason why it costs more than any other dish in the restaurant. But it is certainly worth it. The lower you go on the Rio San Juan, the larger they get. You should not pay more than 200 cordobas for 3 shrimps (about ½ kilo) or you are being ripped off.
The next morning I was rejuvenated due to my night of air conditioning and hot water shower. I was excited about my trip further down the river into the “uncivilized” part of the river. I arrived at the pier at 9 am that morning for the 9:30 am boat downstream. I was immediately approached by a 16 year old boy who said essentially the same thing as the playing card man in Los Chiles. He wanted 190 cordobas for a ticket to Boca San Carlos. I thought this was much higher than everyone had told me, so I thought once again, someone was trying to rip me off. But this time, I observed and sure enuf, everyone in town getting on the boat was buying a piece of paper from this 16 year old kid. He had a clipboard and pre-printed pieces of paper in his pocket. I broke down and gave him 200 cordobas. He actually had to run around town to visit 6 or 7 shops in order to get 10 cordobas change for me. Two baots approached the dock. I was told that these were the fast boat (which costed 400 from El Castillo also no Matter where you were going) and some special boat going upstream for some reason. I was told that the slow boat would arrive a half hour later. About 9:30, 2 slow boats full of people approached the dock, but no one got off. And we were about 35 people waiting to board the boats. The Captains quickly realized they did not have any space. After talking about it for 30 minutes, they decided to move all the people from one of the boats into a larger boat that had been parked at El Castillo for quite some time. Still there was not enuf room for everyone to sit comfortably. The story to success on these river boats (if you are going to use the collective boats) is to get on the list, have a ticket from the playing card guy, and board first.
Again during all this boat action the town kids are swimming around the boats and this is the same waters where I saw the caiman the day before.
So finally the 2 slow boats were headed downstream for the 90 minute ride to Boca San Carlos. Now I chose Boca San Carlos because I read that this small pueblo at least had a cantina and cabinas along with its police station. I thought it prudent to at least find pueblos along the way that were evenly spaced and would put a roof over my head at night during the rain so my sleeping bag would not get wet.
When we arrived in Boca San Carlos, I was a little concerned, becz there were no buildings, just a patio with 3 old men sitting there watching. But several people got off the boat and so did I.
Boca San Carlos is actually quite the bustling little community with about 40 families. There are 3 pulperias, 1 bar, 2 restaurants, and 2 sets of cabinas (both owned by separate brothers). The prettiest girls work at the first bar you come to when walking away from the river. The cheapest food and most central (right next to the cabinas I stayed in) is El Langostino. Now you need to know that Bocas San Carlos is a community split in 2 by Rio San Carlos. There are no bridges, but every family owns at least a canoe, so there is frequent boat ride opportunity back and forth between the 2 sides. All the business are on the south side. The police and school is on the north side. The police NEVER come to the south side. I strongly recommend El Langostino, because he will give you a ride anywhere in town in his truck if you ask, his food is cheaper, and his family needs your money more than the 2 brothers. He also has cabinas, but no one has ever used them. 3.000 for single bed, 5.000 for double bed. The room has a door, but no water at any of the cabinas in Boca San Carlos. To let him know you are coming: Cergio Acevedo, 2710-8378 or 8368-1227.
From Boca San Carlos downstream it gets a little fuzzy. Other than the above posted collective routes, you will have to rely on private passersby. There is usually at least one per day, but you will have to hop from pueblo to pueblo a lot. Below BSC is a very small pueblo of 15 families called Cureña. Gonzalo there drives the daily “school boat” down the river from Cureña to Tambor each day at 9 am, but you have to stop in Romolito and help him teach English and music for an hour to the 25 primary aged kids. You will also have to help him milk 9 cows and catch a chicken for breakfast before the 9 am boat departs. Again, no water, sleeping on his floor in your sleeping bag with millions of baby chickens in the kitchen. Oops, there is cold water in the well.
From Tambor downstream through Rio Sarapiqui and onto Delta, Nicaragua and Delta, Costa Rica again you will have to look for someone heading down. It is pretty easy since EVERYONE in a boat MUST stop at every “puesto” with the Nicaragua ejercito and when someone drops you off at one you merely wait for the next one heading down.
When you get to Delta, I recommend you wait for your next boat in Delta, Costa Rica across the river from Delta, Nicaragua. You will have to be blessed by both which involves a smile and a wave (assuming you passport says you are in Nicaragua), but from Delta, Costa Rica many families visit the only pulperia there. He sells hot coke and tuna and chips. Once you get going downstream below Delta, Costa Rica, it is smooth sailing onto Barra de Colorado as there are many fishing boats there.
Now here’s the problem. Once you leave Delta, Nicaragua, you are no longer in Nicaragua and have entered Costa Rica illegally (if you travel down the Rio Colorado towards Barra de Colorado). No one in Barra de Colorado area cares, but when you arrive in civilization either by bus or plane, someone will care eventually.
I took a Nature Air flight from Barra de Colorado (which I had prepaid for (glad since no airport employees or buildings)) and at the Pavas airport 3 immigrations guys were checking everyones passports. Of course, mine said I was in Nicaragua. I explained that I had spoken to immigrations employee CHALO on Oct 4 and he said he would stamp me into Costa Rica when I arrived on Saturday, Oct 18, but stupid me took a flight a day earlier and Chalo was not working. Consequently they took my passport and I have an appointment with the immigrations court Wednesday Oct 22 to tell my story.
I also spoke with other immigrations people at the Juan Santa Maria airport in the immigrations office upstairs about this and they too said “no problem” just come here and get stamped in. I guess the guy working Pavas airport on this particular Friday was just overly legal.
Would I recommend this vacation for others? Only those that can tolerate sleeping in less than 1 star conditions. Only those that can go 2 or 3 days without a formal shower. Especially for those that like to go where no tourist has ever gone before and spread their vacation dollars around amongst the truly poor who really need it. I got back into the big city of Heredia/Alajuela and immediately was worried once again about crime and locking my car doors, etc.
Nov 6, 2008 7:51 AM
40Costa Rica Hostels
A poster in Nov 2008 wrote their opinions about the Hostels they stayed in while traveling Costa Rica.
Here is a link, feel free to add yours too.
Nov 9, 2008 8:18 PM
41DARIEN GAP CROSSING
Panama/Colombia trip reports, Summer 2008
Darien Gap Threads
Just got back to Panama City after a little drive out to Yaviza (end of the Interamericana, at least in Central America). Pretty hilarious driving in the wet season, with lots of mud and some seriously bad bits where the track has collapsed. Definitely worth doing, but having to get the truck steamcleaned afterwards (caked on mud) was a drag. Lots of police and army checkpoints, and had my name etc recorded and passport checked in at at least 3 places each way. They are keen to cut down on illegal immigrants and drud smugglers out of Columbia.
Interested to hear that the cops no longer allow people to head off into the Darien on foot from Yaviza. At least, that was the message which I thought I was getting from them (my Spanish is very limited). Locals were saying the same thing. If this is so, LP needs to know for the next edition. Has anyone trekked there independantly in recent times, and can you clarify this?
As an aside, there is a new branch of the Bank of Panama at the army base 50 km's before Yaviza, and they have an ATM which definitely works with Visa. But get this.... when you walk into the branch, you are greeted with comlimentary very good strong brewed coffee, served in demitasse. In the jungle? I call that civilized! It has never happened to me in any other bank, anywhere in the world. They deserve a medal.
I was in the Darién last week, went by bus all the way from Panama City to Yaviza, 10 hours on an old school bus through the mud and stopping every 5 minutes to load and unload people. In Yaviza I took a boat to El Real, and from there I walked in Parque nacional Darién with a guide from ANAM and stayed at Pirre station for 1 night. This is all clearly explained in the LP. Nobody told me that it wasn`t possible. The police at Metetí (where the bank is you talk about) did tell me that it was very dangerous to go on further. But before I heard from others that it was OK. As explained in LP, police say those things because they are the ones having to go look for lost tourists in the wild jungle.
It is a rough trip and doing it on your own defenitely helps by speaking some spanish and by having LOTS of patience and by willing to give up the western luxery we are used of.
Hey I was just in Panama a few weeks ago.. And we went into the gap.. Awesome trip.. We took the bus out towards Yaviza. But instead of going all the way we stopped in Metiti. and hike out to Pt Quimba. From there we took a boat to la Palma.. From La Palma we went up river 4hrs by boat.. This part of the trip is highly recomended for the adventurous person... The river was going out and we were going up river so it was like being in a living pinball machine.. Dodging logs tree crocodiles coming down river.. We saw old military ship that had sunk.. Really awesome.. When we got to El Real we went to the police to let them know what we were doing. We met a professor from Panama who hadn't spoken english in 20 years. But he helped us find a guide and the following day we hiked out to the Pirre station. Awesome!!! We went by the villlage Piji Basile. Sat with the locals.. The paramilitary in the area are friendly. Although its a little scary when you are walking down the trail and 6 men with machine guns come walking towards you. they escorted us to a field where a helicopter came in and ask us for our passports.. Very exciting... Panama is great.. What a great time!!!! GO TO THE GAP!!! Just be smart and safe!!
e and a group of 9 others just returned to the states Sunday before last from a trip into the Darien. It was an 8 hr drive to Metiti, Which was made longer by all the checkpoints. After arriving in Metiti we had to get a bulldozer to pull our trailer another 15 miles down a muddy road to Lemon Port. From there we took a 20 minute canoe ride down river to Alto Plyon. There we were to stay 6 days. We were to fix existing water lines that haven't worked for years, and add more PVC and spickets so the Indians and refugees could have filtered running water. We received word 3hrs after arriving in the village that we were to leave. We were informed that the police would be there in the morning to escort us out. We were not givin a reason as to why we needed to leave. We had a wonderful evening, the indians and the refugees welcomed us into their homes and their lives like we were their family. The morning came and went and no police. The missionary was on his phone all morning to the U.N. to his lawyer and others, but he still could not get a straight word as to why we were asked to leave. finally about 1, 3 armed policemen came up the trail. Any other time I wouldn't have thought any different, but being in a different country, and knowing that the police didn't want us there it was a little scary. We were told if we didn't leave that we would be arrested. At that time the "Mayor" of Alto Playon came up the hill to the refugee side of the village with about 100 other villagers. They came to tell of their support for the work we were there to do to help not only the refugees but them also. after about 2 hours of sometimes very heated words, a rep from the U.N. was able to contact the Captain of the providence we were in and we were allowed to stay.
We were never informed as to why they didn't want us there, we were also never told what it was that kept us there, but with the help of some very passionate Embera indians, we were able to finish all the work we were sent there to do, plus some. We dug 2 nine foot holes for future latrines, and plant a good size garden for the refugees so they can have fresh veggies.
My experiences there are so very hard to put into words. It was a trip that changed my life. I will be returning every year until I recieve my nursing license, at which time Me and my husband and our 3 girls will be moving to Panama City to do medical mission trips in the surrounding villages.
Jan 20, 2009 9:40 PM
42In Nicaragua, at la UCA (bus stop across from the Universidad Centroamericana) buses also go to Leon.
Feb 6, 2009 7:08 AM
43Nicaragua Trip Report Feb 2009
Feb 16, 2009 3:46 PM
44Panama- Sambu River Crossing Posted 2009
I have just taken a trip down to Sambu, and have a bit more recent information to share...
First things first, due to recent movement of the FARC northwards, you can not travel up the river to Pavarando as the guerrilla have been sighted there. However, don't let this discourage you, Sambu is an awesome place to travel to, and you can visit it quite inexpensively. The area around Sambu is mainly cultivated forest and fields but you can get out into the real forest as well. Most of the wild animals around here have been overhunted, but there is a huge variety of birds of all sizes and colours.
There are three ways to reach Sambu from Panama City – direct boat; bus down the Panamerican highway followed by boat; and direct flight.
-The easiest way to reach Sambu is by plane. It is a 40 minute flight in a small propellor plane across a beautiful area of the Pacific – the Archipeligo de las Perlas and the Rio Sambu itself. You can book the flight by telephone (not by internet) at the Air Panama website. It costs around $48 each way per person and leaves from the domestic terminal next to Albrook mall. We returned from Sambu on this flight.
-A longer but more scenic option is by bus, then boat. We travelled to Sambu this way, and it was a long but fun trip. First, take a bus to Meteti from the Albrook terminal which takes about 7 hours and costs $9. There are a couple of hotels here and a restaurant, we stayed for $8 for the night. However the town before Meteti, Santa Fe, was much larger and looked like a great place to spend a night if you want to stop off. From Meteti walk or take a taxi to the bus teminal, and you can take a pickup to Puerto Quimba (45 mins, $1.50). Here you can take a boat to La Palma, capital of the Darien. Don't expect much, just a street with a couple of hotels and a restaurant ($13 for the night). Supposedly there are scheduled departures to Sambu at 5am on Monday Wednesday and Friday, but I am not so sure, you will have to ask around for a boat here ($15, around 3 hrs). The local cafe staff are incredibly helpful, as are nearly all the locals. It would definitely help to speak a bit of Spanish to make this journey more easy, but it's a really interesting, beautiful route.
-Also there are some direct boats from Panama City to Sambu ($12, 12hrs). I have no idea where to take one from in Panama City, but ask around in Sambu and you could return on one. However they are very old and didn't look that seaworthy.
Sambu is not a town with travel agencies and signs for accomodation, you will have to ask around to locate anything, but everyone is very friendly and helpful, and it's not a big place (800 people).
Top-end accomodation is at Sambu House, it is owned by an American called Michael, but at the moment is run by his sister-in-law (Panamanian) Maria. There is air conditioning here, and meals are included but it is $125 a night for a room, which is pretty excessive.
Juan Monido has two rooms in a separate building, which share a bathroom. They are basic but have all the conveniences (shower and toilet). The matrimonial room is $10 a night, and another with three single beds is $20.
There is also much more available, if you ask in the post-office there is a woman with a room with private bathroom for $10 a night. Also if you pass the post office in the next 2 weeks you will meet a woman who speaks English! Could be useful...
There is one restaurant open all day with meals $1.50-2, and a bar with Atlas beer ($1.25 for a pint) and rum. There is a well stocked shop, a phone and internet via satellite in Puerto Indio.
Most activities in Sambu require a guide. As I said above you can't travel up the river at the moment, but there are still loads of activities. If you want to enter the Comarca you will need to pay $10 for permission in Puerto Indio, the indigenous village across a short wobbly bridge from Sambu. There are a few people you can talk to about activities in and around Sambu:
-In Puerto Indio ask for Ambrioris, he speaks very clear Spanish and can help you visit the local villages. Chunga, downstream, is reachable by boat (quite expensive) and there are also villages reachable by bicycle (Daipuru is very nice, although quite far away). If the security situation improves and you want to visit the villages upstream you can hire a canoe with engine, they can hold up to 4 people, and cost around $50 per day including a driver, plus gasoline ($3.75 a gallon, the furthest village is a 18 gallon round trip). You can stay in the villages overnight, but I am not sure what it costs. However they are definitely worth a visit, as this is a unique opportunity to see an indigenous culture.
-For hiking I would ask for Lupi, you will need rubber boots (wellies) for all the hiking, so don't bother bringing hiking boots. You can borrow/rent some from Maria at Sambu House if you don't have any (probable). We took a 4 hour hike to a laguna with crocodiles, but there are loads of other options, including a hike through uncultivated forest up a mountain nearby (7hrs). Lupi charged $20 for an afternoon of service, although he will probably expect you to buy him a couple of beers too.
-Juan is also a guide (although he cannot enter the Comarca) and I think there are many others too.
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