Central America Branch FAQ
Replies: 68 - Last Post: Feb 5, 2013 4:47 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Mar 13, 2009 4:29 PM
45Bus schedule for all of Central America
Edited by: a601mom
Mar 28, 2009 6:14 AM
Tips on activities, festivals and cultural highlights- Posted 3/28/09
I posted this a few years ago, but now that I am back in El Salvador I'm posting an updated version with some new attractions. The more time I spend here the more I see El Salvador developing greater tourist infrastructure, which is good and bad. Some of you may dispute my choices, but for a list of 26 things you can do and see here, I offer the following:
A) Food Festival in Juayua: Every weekend the main plaza in the town of Juayua fills with food vendors that sell everything from local favorites like homemade chorizo, grilled beef, and skewered shrimp to more exotic fare like frog and rabbit. Artisans from around El Salvador and nearby Guatemala gather on the weekends as well to sell their handicrafts and other goods. Carriage rides and a train will entertain the kids for $1 per ride. Tour the beautiful church off the main street and don’t miss the waterfalls that are about twenty minutes outside of town. The falls are tucked away in the nearby jungle/coffee plantation and collect in large pools where visitors can swim. There are several B&Bs that have popped up in Juayua that are very reasonable, and if you spend the night, check out the main plaza in the evenings as groups will occasionally gather and play the guitar, sing, or entertain.
B) Zip Line Tours in Apaneca: Along the Ruta de Flores, Apaneca is a small town in the heights of coffee country. A local adventure company has set up a zip line tour with about a dozen lines to run that send you through the coffee plantations, over the jungle, and over a few crevasses. When you’re done you can spend the night at one of the many lodges in the area and enjoy one of the several restaurants that caters to tourists and locals.
C) Suchitoto: A quiet colonial town about two hours out of San Salvador by bus. On the weekend the cafes and hotels here pick up and you can enjoy strolling through town. There are a handful of very quaint hotels where you can spend the night. The church off the main plaza is beautiful and blindingly white. Hike down the hill to nearby Lake Suchitlan and you can take a small boat out to Isla de los Pajaros, a strange island that is infested with flocks of ducks, cranes, and other birds. There are some decent restaurants around the town, along with a few decent art galleries and handicraft shops. The theater has also recently been renovated as well and is very nice. This is a great town to spend a lazy day, stroll around the lake, hang out at a café, sit at the park, people watch, read, and relax. The town has done great things as of late to try to restore some of the old colonial charm.
D) Playa El Zunzal: For the surfers and beach bums, Zunzal has it all. Cheap hostels and hotels, decent clubs, surf shops owned by locals and a handful of ex-pats, a slew of dirt cheap seafood restaurants, and world renowned surfing. For the non-surfers, check out the beaches near Sonsonate (upscale resorts like Decameron, Las Veraneras), Costa del Sol (Club Joya del Pacifico), or Playa El Cuco in the eastern part of the country. Old favorites like Playa San Diego and even parts of the Costa del Sol are starting to look run down, and crime around San Diego has been on the rise; I would no longer recommend them. If you just want to enjoy the beach without getting wet, drive the length of the Litoral Highway from La Libertad to Acajutla, where some of the points rival the California Pacific Highway for cliffs, waves, and sunsets.
E) Downtown Santa Ana: El Salvador’s second largest city has managed to maintain the charm of its downtown by restoring the theater and parts of the cathedral. The Teatro Santa Ana generally has an art display in the main lobby. They ask that you not take flash photography, but if you ask, they’ll let you go up to the second floor and view the beautiful ceiling murals that have been painted in the ballroom on the mezzanine. The theater itself is gorgeous, and the interior will take you back a hundred years with the red velvet curtain, painting, seating, and hardwood floors. Check out the pool under the stage that used to be filled with water to help with acoustics. The Cathedral in Santa Ana off the main square has as much, perhaps more, character than the Catedral Central in downtown San Salvador. The gothic features are pronounced, and the plethora of pigeons that roost both inside and outside the church are entertaining. The architecture inside the Cathedral is old but captivating and more impressive than you might expect from a secondary city in El Salvador. If you get a chance, poke your head into the City Hall on the other side of the main plaza and look at the architecture in the garden area inside.
F) Cerro Verde: This national park circles the well known Lago de Coatapeque and provides spectacular views from the hilltop into the crater lake and across the western part of El Salvador. For the adventurous, you can hike the Santa Ana volcano in a morning and come down. It’s a good workout, but worth it, and the views from the top are amazing. Generally, Cerro Verde has had its fair share of criminals lurking about to rob visitors on the trails, but if you go in a larger group or ask for a police escort (it’s free and they will almost always oblige), you shouldn’t have problems.
G) Lago de Coatepeque: The views of the lake from Cerro Verde are stunning, but if you take the time to descend to the lake shore itself you’ll discover a number of hotels, vacation properties (that you can rent for a day or two or more) and a few restaurants. The view from below looking up at the crater walls is just as impressive as the view looking down at the lake.
H) San Andres and Joyas de Cerén: If you’ve been to any of the great ruin sites in Mexico or Central America (Tikal, Copan, Chichen Itza, Palenque) you won’t be impressed with San Andres. It is, however, a decent stop on the way to Santa Ana or another destination. The museum is well done, and there are free guides to explain the significance of the structures. Joyas de Cerén is a bit more interesting for archeological buffs. It is the only site that has been excavated to reveal residential dwellings with food and cooking materials inside. Joyas is often referred to as the Pompei of Central America as the town was almost perfectly preserved by a nearby volcanic eruption. Neither of the sites is very big, and both can be done in a morning or afternoon.
I) Perquin and El Mozote: The Northeast of El Salvador was renowned as a guerilla stronghold during the civil war in El Salvador. Perquin was something of a rebel headquarters and housed the rebel radio station that operated incognito throughout the conflict. Now it houses a museum dedicated to the guerilla perspective on the war. There is a decent hotel in Perquin (Perquin Lenca I believe) run by an ex-pat. El Mozote is a short distance from Perquin, where one of the worst slaughters occurred during the civil war. The memorial there is moving, and for those that are interested in the history of El Salvador, El Mozote is fairly significant.
J) Arbol de Dios: Famed Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort set up his gallery in San Salvador many years ago. Today it not only houses some of his original artwork, but a small café that serves traditional Salvadoran food. Llort’s artwork spawned an entire artistic movement in the country (see La Palma below), and when the national cathedral was redesigned, the Catholic Church commissioned Llort to redesign the exterior. His artwork, while eclectic, is original and worth the visit. It’s a great spot to have lunch if you are in San Salvador. It is located on the corner of Av. Jerusalen and Calle La Mascota.
K) La Palma: It is said that Fernando Llort either came from La Palma or lived there for some time. This small village in the mountains near the Honduran border has built an entire industry on producing typical Salvadoran handicrafts. The distinctive, two-dimensional style is very unique and has been used to decorate everything from clothing to furniture. There are a few decent hotels and La Palma and it’s a nice escape from the heat of the rest of the country. If you want original Salvadoran handicrafts, La Palma will give you one of your best selections.
L) Puerta del Diablo: This scenic viewpoint is just outside San Salvador near Planes de Renderos. The short hike will take you to a viewpoint that allows you to see as far as the ocean and (some say – don’t believe it) to the Eastern border with Honduras. The view, regardless of how far you can actually see, is worth the small hike. Nearby Planes de Renderos is also well known for its enormous pupusas.
M) Olocuilta: The birthplace of the pupusa. This town is somewhat unremarkable except for the extreme number of pupuserias that offer anything from barely edible to gastronomic delights. The pupusa of choice in Olocuilta is made with a rice dough rather than corn dough, which provides a very different texture and taste, but should be tried at least once while in El Salvador. It is on the highway to the airport, so convenient on your way in or out of town. To find a decent place, look for customers and get off the highway a bit. Ask a few of the locals and they can likely point you to one of the good pupuserias.
N) Parque Nacional El Imposible: This national park along the west border with Guatemala is a natural preserve that includes stunning flora and some fauna. Rumor has it that El Imposible is home to monkeys and jaguars as well as a large variety of birds. However, you may be hard pressed to see most of the animals. This shouldn’t discourage you from going. The hike through the park is worth the effort it requires to get there. There is a reason it is called El Imposible, but the reward of hiking through jungle and seeing the streams and birds will make you glad you made the three hour bus ride to get there. If you don’t have time to go in a day and get back, the Hotel El Parador in Ahuachapan is a nearby option with very good facilities to spend the night. The proximity of El Imposible to the Guatemala border also makes it a nice option on the way to or from Guate.
O) Playa El Cuco: El Salvador’s beaches are famous for their waves and undercurrent. This makes for a surfing dream and swimming nightmare. If you want to escape some of the surf and enjoy a more calm beach, head East to El Cuco. Many Salvadorans consider El Cuco to be the best beach in El Salvador.
P) Pier at La Libertad: The renovated pier in La Libertad is a frenetic bustle of fishermen, fishmongers, children, seafood, vendors, and small beachside food stalls. If you get there early in the morning you can watch the fishermen pull up their boats onto the pier and unload their catch. If you have access to a kitchen, purchasing some of the fresh seafood on the pier like the langoustines, jumbo shrimp, red snapper, and tuna make for a delicious lunch. If you don’t want to cook yourself, head either east or west of the pier and enjoy the fresh seafood meals at one of the nearby restaurants. La Punta Roca, La Curva de Don Gere, and La Dolce Vita are three that generally serve very good fare and have decks with beautiful views of the ocean while you dine. If you need to cool off from the humidity, order a frozen lemonade.
Q) Catedral and Teatro Nacional: Downtown San Salvador has developed a reputation for criminal activity, but during the day the main plaza is filled with families, vendors, and businessmen. The Catedral Nacional is a beautiful building both inside and out. Its unique design on the exterior makes it one of the most original churches in Latin America, thanks in large part to the creative eye of Fernando Llort, the Salvadoran artist commissioned to design the artwork on the exterior of the renovated building. The interior is also stunning with intricate artwork and detail. Don’t miss the opportunity to step underneath the Catedral and view the final resting place of Archbishop Romero, who rests beneath a large bronze sculpture that is both poetic and moving. The Teatro Nacional across the street will take you from Latin America to Europe with its red velvet cushioned seats, gold fringe, enormous crystal chandelier, and marble columns. If you ask the director of the theater he will sometimes let you in and provide you a tour of the facility for a small donation (generally $1).
R) Artesania Market of San Salvador: There are two artesania markets in San Salvador. For the adventurous, the Ex-Cuartel Market downtown will provide countless stalls of everything from hammocks, guitars, homemade sandals, and beach towels. For those that want higher quality goods and to avoid the traffic and crowds downtown, the Feria de Artesanias behind the International Fair grounds provides a very good collection of handicrafts from both El Salvador and Guatemala. If you’re looking for something uniquely Salvadoran focus on the hammocks, leathergoods, distinctive two-dimensional artwork, painted wood, and clay goods. Most of the weavings and textiles are brought in from neighboring Guatemala.
S) Volcan El Boquerón: For those that do not have the time or energy to hike up to the top of a volcano but want the experience of peering over the crater’s edge to the gaping hole below, take the drive (or bus) up the Boqueron Volcano at the edge of San Salvador. The road takes you nearly to the top of the volcano where you can park your car and hike the last five minutes to the crater’s edge. Clouds often pour over the crater’s edge and spill into the cavern below. This volcano is dormant and the small dome at the base is now covered with grass, but the hike is spectacular and easy (great with kids!) and the forest around the crater is something very different from most of El Salvador. If you’re there during the right season you may see local girls selling bowls full of wild raspberries. The woods are full of calla lilies and pine trees.
T) Isla Espiritu Santo: Getting here is a challenge – you have to time your departure from the Bahia de Jiquilisco with the tides. But if you can make it work, Isla Espiritu Santo is a small island in the bay that is surrounded with mangrove forests. On the island itself is a small village that supports shrimp farms and a large coconut processing plant. The coconut plantation and adjoining processing plant fill much of the area with the sweet aroma of roasted coconut. Just outside of the village you can watch the lines of women with makeshift tents chopping open coconuts, scooping out the flesh, and discarding the shells at unimaginable speed.
U) Costa del Sol: The most accessible high end and traditionally exclusive beach in the country, Costa del Sol hosts several nice beach clubs and hotels. The beach here is more suited to swimming than Zunzal or La Libertad (which tend to be rocky), and there are several beach condominium developments being built to take advantage of the few remaining areas of open beachfront property on the coast. Your best bet to enjoy this piece of heaven is to check with a local club, book with one of the beach resorts, or find a rental property you can use for the weekend.
V) Wicker artisans of Nahuizalco: Nahuizalco is the last vestige of the native Nahuat culture. There are only a handful of people that still speak Nahuat fluently, and all of them seem to live in or near Nahuizalco. If you walk through the market you can see some of the women still dressed in traditional clothing and speaking to each other in the foreign tongue. It is a culture and language that will likely cease to exist with the passing of this generation as most of the younger inhabitants of Nahuizalco dress modern and speak Spanish. The furniture and wicker craft here is renowned throughout El Salvador, and local artisans make everything from baskets to rocking horses out of natural fibers. The woodcarving is impressive and all done by hand.
W) Tazumal: This is probably the most impressive archeological site in El Salvador. Tazumal consists of a larger temple site and a few other structures and small museum. There is another nearby site called Casa Blanca that is not as well developed or impressive. Again, if you’ve been to the larger sites in Mesoamerica, Tazumal is only marginally interesting, but if you’ve never seen Mayan ruins before, Tazumal is worth the trip out.
X) MUNA y MARTE: In San Salvador, two museums are worth a visit – the David Guzman Museum of Anthropology (MUNA) and the Museum of Art (MARTE). Both are located within three or four blocks of each other near the exclusive Zona Rosa neighborhood of clubs, restaurants, and high-end hotels. The MUNA has interesting artifacts that detail El Salvador’s history. MARTE’s collections constantly rotate, and both often host evening events or special collections. The café at MARTE is a good place to have lunch.
Y) A lo Nuestro: The only restaurant on the list. A lo Nuestro is a small bistro off the Zona Rosa that prides itself in spotlighting local ingredients in five star dishes. The menu has an impressive array of international favorites with local twists. The ambience is intimate and filled with character as even the light fixtures appear to be works of art. Expect to spend about $30 - $40 per person for a meal with drinks and dessert, but the experience is worth it, particularly as a final treat before you leave the country.
Z) Parque Nacional Montecristo: At the crossroads of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Parque Montecristo is the country’s only cloud forest park. Because of the distance, you’ll probably want to make this an overnight venture as you hike through the forest and mountain area. There are cabins that can be rented that are powered by solar energy, and depending on the season, you will want some warmer clothes for the evening. During some parts of the year, apparently, the park is closed to allow for mating season, so check before you go.
Per the request for advice for solo female travelers, I am adding tips for ladies and families on each of the destinations below. Keep in mind that basic safety precautions prevail EVERYWHERE.
A) Food Festival in Juayua: Tip for Single Ladies – If you want to hike the falls go on a Saturday. There are more people traveling the trail, but never enough that you feel like you’re fighting crowds of tourists (it never happens in El Salvador). If you want to go on another day or things seem quiet, ask your hotel to hook you up with a guide. Alternatively, the local police station (right off the main square) provides escorts for free. The tuk-tuks in town will drive you down part of the way, and that may also lessen your alone time on the trail. Tip for Families – This is a great activity for kids of all ages. One set of falls has small pools that even non-swimmers could stand in and get wet. The hike can be a little grueling for little kids, and there are a few spots where you’ll want to definitely hold hands with young ones. The market has a plethora of cheap toys and there is always someone at the main square offering pony rides, carriage rides, and train rides. Look for the Sarita ice cream shop off the main plaza for a cool break after lunch or your hike.
B) Zip Line Tours in Apaneca: Tip for Single Ladies – The company that runs the zip lines schedules groups ahead of time. If you ask they may be able to hook you up with a larger group of travelers to run the course with others. Apaneca is generally a quiet town, but if you want more choices for evening entertainment around other tourists, run the zip line on the weekend and spend Saturday night in Juayua. Tip for Families – Some of these runs are rather high. I would recommend this for children over the age of 12.
C) Suchitoto: Tip for Single Ladies – If you want to tour the lake, go down to the shore in the early afternoon and have lunch first. Let one of the boat guides know you are interested in going but want to wait for a larger group. This can cut your expense significantly for the tour. While you have lunch you can wait to see if another group comes along. Most of the boats will seat at least eight or twelve people, and the guides charge about $30 regardless of how many people are going. The trail from the boat shore to Suchitoto is fairly dark and lonely at night – plan on being back in town before nightfall. Tip for Families – The restaurants by the lake have a small playground that is in semi-terrible condition. The boat guides do have life vests, but they may not fit very small children. There is a Neveria Ice Cream Parlor right off the main square (and it does get hot in the afternoons in Suchitoto).
D) Playa El Zunzal: Tip for Single Ladies – I would generally discourage single female travelers from visiting the beaches around La Libertad. During the day you may be okay, but at night there are few places in this area I would want to be alone, male or female. If you want to enjoy the beach and are not a surfing fanatic, Costa del Sol is much more friendly for single women, or try one of the larger beach clubs near Sonsonate. Tip for Families – Las Veraneras is THE club for families with kids. The pools have large waterslides and playground equipment to climb on. The cabanas can be rented for the evening, but they will run you between $80 - $100. They are nice and air conditioned. If you are traveling with another family you can get a two bedroom cabana, each with its own bathroom and split the cost.
E) Downtown Santa Ana: Tip for Single Ladies – Downtown Santa Ana around the main square during the day is generally fine for single female travelers. If you are not familiar with Santa Ana, do not wander the streets in the evening. There are several neighborhoods that are not safe, particularly for single females. If you are staying at a hotel here, ask about getting around at night. Tip for Families – If you want to stop for lunch here, Metrocentro at the edge of town has a small play place and American style food court with every fast food and local restaurant imaginable. The Burger King next to Metrocentro has an enormous playplace.
F) Cerro Verde: Tip for Single Ladies – Find a group or ask for police escort if you want to hike through Cerro Verde. This area is frequented by a lot of tourists, and many have been targeted for muggings and such. Groups are rarely bothered but single travelers are often victimized. Tip for Families – The hike up the Santa Ana volcano is strenuous but doable for younger children (I did it when I was 11 the first time, but it was hard). There is other hiking and green areas that can be enjoyed here.
G) Lago de Coatepeque: Tip for Families – Many of the homes on the lake can be rented for the weekend.
H) San Andres and Joyas de Cerén: Tip for Single Ladies – Avoid the towns of Lourdes and Colon that are on the way to San Andres coming from San Salvador – they are fairly notorious for criminal activity, particularly around the bus transfer point where the highways from Sonsonate and Santa Ana come together (El Poliedro). Tip for Families – San Andres has a lot of open green fields where kids can run and play. It is ideal for picnics. There is also a small play ground outside the museum that is mildly entertaining (emphasis on mildly). Joyas de Ceren would be boring with young children. Unless you really are into this kind of thing – skip it.
I) Perquin and El Mozote: Tip for Single Ladies -- There is a lot of nothing around Perquin and El Mozote. While hiking the during the day is generally less dangerous, I would make sure that your sightseeing activities are complete well before nightfall. Because of the distance, plan ahead and spend the night at Perquin or nearby San Miguel. Otherwise you’ll be coming into San Salvador in the middle of the night through the worst part of the city.
J) Arbol de Dios:
K) La Palma: Tip for Families – The Hotel La Palma has a swimming pool, on-site restaurant, basketball court, and countless stairs that run along mountain sides that would be perilous for young children. It is a nice place for families, but if you have very young children, take a look at the site before agreeing to spend the night, and opt for one of the rooms that is closer to the street side rather than the cliff’s edge.
L) Puerta del Diablo: Tip for Single Ladies – Planes de Renderos and the Puerta del Diablo is generally fairly safe, but if you are using public transportation be aware that most of the buses getting to and from this area will require you to transit through downtown or less desirable parts of the city AND transfer buses there. Plan on taking either a cab or doing this in the morning or early afternoon to give you plenty of time to get back through the city.
N) Parque Nacional El Imposible: Tip for Families – Services at the park are minimal once you arrive, so make sure you bring everything you’ll need with you. This can be a long hike for younger kids so plan accordingly. The park is huge, so know ahead of time that if you are coming with younger travelers you’ll only see part of the park. There is (or was as of a couple of years ago) a swimming pool at the Hotel Parador in Ahuachapan and a decent restaurant as well.
O) Playa El Cuco: Tip for Single Ladies – Accommodations around El Cuco are fairly non-existent (as far as I know) so spending the night may require you to make an evening trip into San Miguel or back to San Salvador at night (i.e. not cool). If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, look first to Costa del Sol. Tip for Families – If you prefer your children not be swept out to sea, head to El Cuco. The undertow here is notoriously calmer than at the Costa del Sol and certainly more so than around La Libertad.
P) Pier at La Libertad: Tip for Single Ladies – Walking the pier during the day is probably fine, but avoid some of the other areas around La Libertad, and generally avoid walking down trails or streets that look lonely or removed from the bustle of the beach. I would definitely not spend the night in La Libertad as a single woman. Tip for Families – Many of the restaurants have high chairs for the kids. Keep an eye on younger kids if you walk the pier – the guard rails provide little barrier between a young child and the ocean below. At the end of the pier there are no guard rails so the boats can be loaded onto the dock. Be careful! There is parking at the pier that is safe and convenient.
Q) Catedral and Teatro Nacional: Tip for Single Ladies – You may be fine traveling downtown during the day, but consider taking a cab down and back to see the main plaza. Under no circumstances would I travel in this area at night as a solo traveler of any gender. As a general rule: the further west you are in San Salvador, the safer the neighborhood. Things get more dangerous as you move east. After nightfall, as a general rule, avoid anything east of Metrocentro, Blvd. de los Heroes.
R) Artesania Market of San Salvador: Tip for Single Ladies – Buy your artesanias from the fair behind the International Fair Grounds and avoid the Ex-Cuartel. Tip for Families – Do the same. There is a nice parking lot next to the market.
S) Volcan El Boquerón: Tip for Single Ladies – This is a National Park area and is guarded. There is a parking lot with security guard for those of you who drive. However, the trails that run from the parking lot to the crater’s edge are solitary. You can wait in the parking lot for another group to come up and just stay close to them, or plan the trip with a tour group if you want to go. There are a handful of security guards wandering around the ranger’s shack and parking lot – for a few dollars you could probably convince one to accompany you on the trail. Tip for Families – The “fence” at the edge of the crater is not exactly child-proof and there is no gradual slope – it is a sheer cliff. This is a fun hike for the family, but a bit like taking your kids to the Grand Canyon, so keep a close eye on them and hold hands with young ones that might have a tendency to get away from you.
T) Isla Espiritu Santo: Tip for Single Ladies – This is a hard destination to reach without spending the night somewhere close by, and there are few places close by that I would recommend for solo female travelers. If you really want to see the mangroves and islands, plan this excursion carefully so you don’t get stranded somewhere you don’t want to be. Tip for Families – ditto.
U) Costa del Sol: Tip for Single Ladies – There are several private beach clubs and hotels with plenty of security. This may be a great beach trip for a solo female traveler. This is the beach I would recommend for solo female travelers. Tip for Families – See my note under (D) regarding Las Veraneras. Costa del Sol can be very fun for families as well, especially if you have older kids.
V) Wicker artisans of Nahuizalco: Tip for Single Ladies – Getting to Nahuizalco requires traveling through Sonsonate, which has become increasingly more dangerous and violent with time. If you are coming from San Salvador, look for a bus that goes to Juayua and you won’t need to transfer in Sonsonate – you can just stay on the bus. If you do end up transferring, the new bus terminal is a bit out of the city and is probably okay. Tip for Families – If your kids enjoy wicker, they’ll love Nahuizalco. Otherwise, don’t plan on being here for long.
W) Tazumal: Tip for Families - Tazumal has some areas for running around, but not nearly as much as San Andres. On the other hand, the temple at Tazumal is more impressive. If you need lunch, you can pull off in Santa Ana (about twenty minutes away by car) and find some family friendly restaurants.
X) MUNA y MARTE:
Y) A lo Nuestro: Tip for Families – Leave the kids behind.
Z) Parque Nacional Montecristo: Tip for Single Ladies – This is a remote location with lots of remote trails. If you plan on coming out here, get a companion to join you. Tip for Families – The cabins and camping area make for a great weekend retreat. Lots of open space to run around and play. This is a good family activity.
Apr 29, 2009 3:53 PM
This is a link to one the best info postedon budget travel in Belize, by a well respected travel author on Belize Travels, Lansluder. Posted March 2009.
Good, Cheap Places to Stay in Belize
By LAN SLUDER
Belize has the reputation of being an expensive destination. To some degree, that reputation is deserved, but high quality and inexpensive lodging and meals are available, too, if you know where to look for them.
Here are my picks for good, cheap places to stay in Belize. (Of course, these are just the tips of the tropical iceberg, as there are more than 500 lodging options in Belize.) With only one or two exceptions, I have personally stayed in or at least toured these properties. In most cases, singles listed here start at US$15 or less, and doubles at US$25 or less (both plus 9% hotel tax). A few cost a bit more, but are worth it. These hotels and hostels are universally clean and well run. You’ll enjoy them.
San Ignacio, Cayo
San Ignacio makes a good base for caving, hiking, canoeing and exploring Maya sites. It’s also a jumping off spot for Tikal. Downtown San Ignacio has a number of budget and low-moderate hotels, along with many well-priced restaurants where you can enjoy stew chicken and beans and rice, or a plate of fried chicken, for around US$5 or $6. Around San Ignacio are several of the best jungle lodges in Belize, along with some budget lodges.
Trek Stop, Benque Rd., San José Succotz Village, Cayo; tel. 501-823-2265;
http://www.thetrekstop.com. 6 miles west of San Ignacio, on the south
side of Western Hwy. (Benque Rd.). American expats Judy and John Yaeger and their
Belizean partners opened this spot in 1998. They own 22 acres, perched beside the
highway on a hillside near San José Succotz Village and the Xunantunich Maya ruins.
Budget travelers will find cheap sleeps in cozy, neat-as-a-pin cabins (US$15 single,
US$24 double), with screened windows, outdoor composting toilets (shared) and solar-heated showers. Larger cabins run US$28 to US$38, plus additional charges for occupants over two in a cabin. A small butterfly farm and nature center, Tropical Wings, a disc golf course and a restaurant are also here. Camping is available -- US$5 per night per person. There’s also a common kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Bikes, kayaks and inner tubes are available for rent. Highly recommended for those seeking quality budget accommodations.
Falconview Hostel, 2964 Pluto St. (off Mile 66 1/2 Western Hwy.), Hillview, Santa
Elena; tel. 501-663-5580; http://www.folkmusicfl.tripod.com/adventuresinbelize/. Email or call for directions. This is one of Belize's few true hostels. It's run by Ray Auxillou, a
pioneer of tourism on Caye Caulker and one of the real characters in Belize, and his wife, Silvia. Hostel rates US$11 per person. Furnished apartments with kitchen are US$45. A bit out of the way, but clean and well-maintained, and nice folks.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Casa Blanca Guest House, 10 Burns Ave., San Ignacio; tel. 501-824-2080;
http://www.casablancaguesthouse.com. While it's near the center of busy San Ignacio, this
small hotel, winner of the Belize Tourism Board's "best small hotel award" a few years
ago, is quiet and a great choice if you want to save money. The smallish rooms, with white plaster walls trimmed in mahogany and locally made wood furniture, are a big step above typical budget lodging. There’s Wi-Fi and cable TV. Everything is sparkling clean, and the hotel is well run. Rooms with fans start at US$20-$25 double. Some rooms have air-conditioning (US$30-$50). No restaurant, but you’re right across the street from the excellent Hannah’s restaurant, and you can prepare snacks or full meals in the shared kitchen. Reserve ahead: Casa Blanca is often fully booked.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Venus Hotel, San Ignacio – US$14-$32
Aguada Hotel, Santa Elena – US$35 and up
Martha’s, San Ignacio – US$40-$80
Clarissa Falls Resort – US$38 and up
Macal River Camp at Chaa Creek, near San Ignacio -- US$55 per person including breakfast and dinner
Parrot Nest, Bullet Tree – US$40-$45
Corozal Town is usually viewed just as a stopover between Mexico and the Belize cayes or other points south, but it’s actually one of the most pleasant spots in Belize to relax by Corozal Bay and do nothing.
Sea Breeze Hotel, 23 1st Avenue, Corozal Town, tel. 501-422-3051, http://www.theseabreezehotel.com. This aqua-colored hotel on Corozal Bay has quickly gained a reputation as one of the best bargains in the country. Even the four budget rooms here, at US$20, have cable TV and Wi-Fi. The two larger “premium” rooms are US$25-$30, and one has a bay view. Breakfast is available for US$5, and there’s a nice bar upstairs with views of the water.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Corozal Bay Resort – US$60
Copa Banana – US$55
Tony’s Inn – US$65-$85
Hok’ol K’in – US$45-$50
Las Palmas – US$45-$75
Mirador – US$35-$65
Sarteneja village near the Shipstern Reserve is one of the most charming small villages in Belize, with a lovely setting on the water. Spending a lot of money is hard in Sarteneja, as the few hotels and restaurants are all budget or moderate. It’s accessible by boat or air from San Pedro or Corozal Town, or by car or bus from Corozal or Orange Walk.
Backpackers Paradise, Bandera Road, Sarteneja; tel. 501-403-2051; http://www.bluegreenbelize.com. Backpackers Paradise, run by a French Canadian-Swiss couple, has snug (that is, tiny) and somewhat funky cabanas at a great price. Cabanas (single or double) are US$11--$17.50, and camping is US$3.25 per person. You can snack on free citrus and other fruit from trees on the site, but there’s also a restaurant and bar.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Candelie's Sunset Cabanas, North Front St., Sarteneja Village; tel. 501-423-2005; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Candelie’s has just two cottages, set a few feet from the water. The high-ceilinged cottages each have double beds, cable TV and plenty of space. Wood Stork, closer to the water and with a large mural of the stork on the side, has air-conditioning, while Brown Pelican has a fan. Either is a bargain, at US$40 plus tax.
Orange Walk Town
Orange Walk Town is mostly a base for day trips to Lamanai. There are several inexpensive, high-quality hotels in town near the New River.
Hotel de la Fuente, 14 Main St., Orange Walk Town; tel. 501-322-2290;
http://www.hoteldelafuente.com. Orlando de la Fuente’s and his wife opened this nice
addition to the very limited hotel scene in Orange Walk Town. The low rates starting at
US$25 to $35 (single or double) put it among the best values in Northern Belize. Even the basic rooms have air-conditioning, cable TV and Wi-Fi. There are also 2 suites with kitchenettes (US$60-$70). The hotel can arrange tours at competitive prices, including a full-day Lamanai tour with hotel pick-up and drop-off and lunch for US$40 per person.
St. Christopher’s, 10 Main St., Orange Walk Town; tel. 501-322-2420; http://www.stchristophershotelbze.com. This hotel overlooking the New River has attractive rooms, all with cable TV and some air-conditioned. Rates range from US$25 to $47.
The Northern Cayes are the most popular visitor destinations in Belize, for good reason. They offer a Caribbean-style island resort atmosphere, easy access to the Belize Barrier Reef, lots of choices for hotels and restaurants in all price ranges and first-rate diving, snorkeling and fishing.
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s #1 visitor destination by far, with the biggest selection of hotels, restaurants, tourist-oriented shops and bars in the country. Even so, it’s not very commercialized compared with many destinations in Mexico and the main Caribbean. It’s also viewed as being an expensive place, and it can be, but there are a handful of inexpensive hotels. You can dine out at any price point, from inexpensive (and safe to eat) street vendor tacos and take-out broiled chicken to top-of-the-line restaurants.
Pedro’s Backpackers Inn, Seagrape Drive, San Pedro; tel. 501-226-3825; http://www.backpackersbelize.com. This hostel cum bar south of town isn’t on the beach, but it does offer affordable accommodations – single beds with share bath start at US$10 per person. Private rooms with A/C, cable and private bath go for US$55 double in-season and US$45 in low season. Free Wi-Fi, and free use of kayaks. The sports bar has a pool table and projection TV, and poker games are a regular feature. The owner, the inveterate Englishman Peter Lawrence, claims Pedro’s has the best pizza on the island.
Ruby’s, Barrier Reef Drive, P.O. Box 56, San Pedro; tel. 501-226-2063; http://www.ambergriscaye.com/rubys/. This is the favorite budget spot of many value-conscious visitors. Rooms in the original wooden building are basic but clean; those on the street side can be a little noisy. Singles with share baths and fans are US$20; singles with private bath and fan are US$25. Rooms in the concrete addition on the ocean side sport A/C and private baths and go for US$60 plus tax double, still a good value. Good inexpensive breakfasts and light meals in the first-floor restaurant. The hotel is often full.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Hotel Sanpedrano -- US$15-$40
Martha’s – US$15-$35
Caye Caulker is Ambergris Caye’s little sister, smaller, more laid-back and a cheaper date. Many prefer it to the more upscale pleasures of San Pedro. The island has more than 50 small hotels, quite a few with rates under US$25 even in high season, and many in the moderate range (US$25-$75).
Tina’s Bak Pak Hostel. Beachfront just north of public pier, tel. 501-226-0351;
http://www.cayecaulker.org/tina/. For US$12 per person, you can grab a hammock or
a bunk bed at this hostel right on the beach. There’s room for 16 friendly people.
Tom’s Hotel. Beachfront, about 4 blocks south of the public pier, (P.O. Box 15), Caye
Caulker, tel. 501-226-0102; e-mail email@example.com. This backpacker favorite, with 5
cabins and lots of rooms in a two-story concrete building, continues to attract a crowd.
Many rooms are small, share baths and can be very hot, but the quiet seaside location and low prices, starting at around US$20, keep regulars coming back.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Maxhapan Cabanas, 55 Avenue Pueblo Nuevo, south end of village, (P.O. Box 63), Caye Caulker; tel. 501-226-0118; email Maxhapan04@hotmail.com. Maxhapan (pronounced Ma-sa-pan) is a Maya word for breadfruit, and there indeed is a large breadfruit tree near these three cabanas. While it’s not on the water, Maxhapan is otherwise nearly ideal, with sparkling clean rooms (all with private baths, A/C, microwave and small fridge) and friendly management. Rates start around US$40 double in the low season, US$60 in the high. Bikes are free.
Tree Tops, south of the public pier, near the water, (P.O. Box 29), Caye Caulker, tel. 501-226-0240, fax 226-0115; http://www.treetopsbelize.com. Belize needs more places like this one – the guest rooms are clean as a pin and the entire place is meticulously maintained. All rooms have cable TV and a fridge. Two have private baths (one has a composting toilet) and the others have shared baths. Rooms with fans and share baths are around US$50.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Daisy’s – US$15-$20
Miramar – US$10-$20
Sandy Lane – US$15-$25
Mara’s – US$28-$35
Barefoot Beach – US$49 and up
Seaside Cabanas (for a splurge) -- US$84-$124
Many people think the best way to see Belize City is through the rear view mirror as you leave this bustling small city, the commercial, cultural and transportation hub of Belize. There’s truth to that, although Belize City has many excellent restaurants, a good museum and several important colonial buildings. In my opinion, it’s worth paying a little more to stay in a safe area at a pleasant hotel or inn, rather than trying to pinch pennies here.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
D’Nest Inn. 475 Cedar St., Belize City; tel. 501/223-5416; http://www.dnestinn.com. (Directions: from the Northern Hwy. turn west on Chetumal St., turn right at the police station, go 1block and turn left, then turn right on Cedar St.) D’Nest Inn is a B&B run by Gaby and Oty Ake. Gaby is a retired Belize banker, and Oty is originally from Chetumal. The two-story, Caribbean-style house is on a canal 50 feet from the Belize River. It’s in an area called Belama Phase 2, a safe, middle-class section between the international airport and downtown. Oty’s gardens around the house are filled with hibiscus, roses and other blossoming plants. The four guest rooms are furnished with antiques such as a hand-carved, four-poster bed, but they also have modcons like wireless internet, air-conditioning and cable TV. With a private entrance and your own key, you come and go as you like. Rates are US$50 to $60 single and US$60 to $70 double and include a delicious full breakfast. Highly recommended.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Belcove Hotel -- US$27-$52
Hotel Mopan – US$45-$75
Villa Boscardi – US$65-$79
Southern Belize, especially Hopkins and the Placencia peninsula, has some of the best beaches in Belize.
Hopkins is a small seaside Garifuna village that is struggling to handle the 21st century. It’s one of the friendliest and most exotic places with Belize. Most of the budget lodging here lacks a good deal in the way of style, but the sandy beaches are pleasant. Damn those sandlfies!
Tipple Tree Beya, Hopkins (P.O. Box 206, Dangriga); tel. 501-520-7006; http://www.tippletree.com. The facilities are simple, though clean and well maintained, but the beachfront location is terrific. Rates US$30 to $50 double.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Hopkins Inn, Hopkins (P.O. Box 121, Dangriga); tel./fax 501-523-7013, or tel./fax
in the U.S. 907-683-2518; http://www.hopkinsinn.com. Attractive cabañas on the beach,
with full bath, fridge, fan and private verandah with sea views. The hotel is run by Greg
and Rita Duke, who are knowledgeable about the area. Rates US$50 to $99 double,
including continental breakfast, plus tax. Discounts available off-season.
Jungle Jeanies by the Sea, Hopkins; tel./fax 501-523-7047; http://www.junglebythesea.com. This group of wood cabanas on stilts is on 2 acres of beachfront shaded by coconut palms. You can rent kayaks and windsurfers here, or just relax in a hammock. This is a terrific, moderately priced beachfront resort. Owners "Jungle Jeanie" Barkman and husband "Jungle John" are Canadians who have lived in Belize for years. Rates US$55-$120 double.
Placencia offers fewer cheap lodging choices than does Caye Caulker. Most budget places are in Placencia village. The village is also the place for inexpensive and moderately priced eats. Don’t miss Tutti-Frutti, which has some of the best gelato outside Italy.
Lydia’s Guest House, Placencia Village; tel. 501-523-3117; http://www.lydiasguesthouse.com. This is a popular budget choice at the quiet north end of the village. It’s run by Lydia Villanueva and offers 8 basic but clean rooms, with fans, shared bath, shared kitchen, fridge, and, on the second floor of the wood-frame house, a verandah with hammocks. Rates: around US$25 double in-season, a little less in summer. Cabanas also available, at weekly rates.
Seaspray, Placencia Village; tel. 501-523-3148; http://www.seasprayhotel.com. Don’t expect fancy, and some rooms are a bit frayed, but the central location is hard to beat, and you’re next door to a good restaurant, De Tatch. Rates for a double budget room start at US$20 July-October and US$25 the rest of the year. Other rooms range from around US$35 to $65.
Manatee Inn, Placencia Village; tel. 501-523-4083; http://www.manateeinn.com Although not directly on the beach, the Manatee Inn offers value for your money. The six rooms on the second floor of a wood-frame, two-story building are simply furnished, but they’re extremely clean, and all have private baths. Two larger apartments, perfect for families, are on the first floor. Doubles are US$35 mid-May to mid-November, US$45 the rest of the year. Singles start at US$30. Discounts available for longer stays.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Maya Beach Hotel and Bistro, Maya Beach, tel./fax 501-520-8040 or 800-
503-5124; http://www.mayabeachhotel.com. Before ending up here, owners John and Ellen
Lee (he's Australian, she's American) traveled and worked in 20 countries. They must
have figured out what travelers like, because their Bistro by the beach is one of the
best restaurants in Belize, and the hotel is a classic barefoot beachy inn. Rates for the off-season start at US$69 single or double and $89 in high season. In addition to the simple but pleasant hotel rooms with views of False Caye and the sea, the hotel rents four apartments and two houses nearby, some with access to a pool.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Deb & Dave’s Last Resort – US$25
Tradewinds – US$65 and up
Westwind – US$50 and up
Toledo District is the way Belize used to be – green, friendly and untouristed. Punta Gorda is a little shy in the very cheap lodging category, but it offers exceptional values in the moderate range.
A BIT MORE … BUT WORTH IT
Hickatee Cottages Lodge, Ex-Servicemen Rd., Punta Gorda; tel. 501-662-
4475; http://www.hickatee.com. A delightful British couple, Ian and Kate Morton, created Hickatee Cottages in 2005 and turned it into one of the best small lodges in Belize. The three Caribbean-style cottages, with zinc roofs and private porches, are nestled in lush foliage. Rates start at an affordable US$55 single, $75 double or triple and include free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, bikes and airstrip/boat/bus transfers. Delicious meals are available (dinner is US$17.50, and a full breakfast is US$6.25 per person), with fruits and vegetables from the owners’ organic nursery next door. Highly recommended. A hickatee, by the way, is a river turtle, Dermatemys mawii.
Coral House Inn, 151 Main St., Punta Gorda; tel. 501-722-2878;
http://www.coralhouseinn.net. Americans Rick and Darla Mallory bought and renovated a
1938 colonial-era house and turned it into one of the coolest guesthouses in Belize.
You’ll recognize it by the coral color and the vintage red and white VW van parked in
front. There are Confederate graves in the cemetery next door, a legacy of the
Confederate immigration to Toledo after the U.S. Civil War. Rooms start at
US$83 double. They have tile floors, good beds, TV, air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi.
There’s a small swimming pool, recently upgraded.
FOR VALUE ALSO CONSIDER
Nature’s Way Hostel – US$15 and up
Tate’s Guesthouse – US$30-$60
Charlton’s Inn – US$30-$45
St. Charles Inn – US$20-$35
Blue Belize Guesthouse – US$70
Tranquility Lodge – US$60-$75 (thru November 2009)
Sun Creek Lodge – US$40-$100
About LAN SLUDER: Lan Sluder has been banging around Belize for 18 years. He is the author of a half dozen books on the country, including Fodor’s Belize and Living Abroad in Belize, along with several eBooks on Belize. Visit him at http://www.belizefirst.com.
Aug 14, 2009 9:35 AM
48Sailboat Charters between Panama & Colombia
Below are Links to recent travelers reports, for securing a sailboat Charter to cross between Panama and Colombia or Vice Versa. Stuart333 is a frequent contributor on the forum and owns a hostel in Panama, and offers great advice. Please read all the post, good and bad, as this journey has some serious safety issues one must take into consideration.
Aug 16, 2009 6:30 PM
49There are also trips to Colombia arranged at Luna's Castles in Casco Viejo
Nov 2, 2009 11:34 AM
Mar 6, 2010 9:14 AM
51March 2010 Crossing from Colombia to/from Panama via surface
Posted by FELIX
Link to Thread
I just did this trip the other way, earlier this week. The Panama side was much more difficult than coming from Colombia. Once I got to Puerto Obaldia, the town in Kuna Yala on the border with Colombia, things went screwy. This is pasted from my post on the South America branch - reverse it, and most of it holds true. The people I encountered going the opposite direction - heading to Colombia - seemed to have a much easier time of it than coming from Colombia, mainly because it is much easier to get to Colombia from Puerto Obaldia than anywhere else in Panama from Puerto Obaldia.
Turbo is a dump. I stayed at the Residencia Florida, on the main plaza. My spectacularly smelly room was COP 18,000, but the owner of the place extremely friendly and helpful. The docks are on the opposite side of the plaza. Florida's owner recommended I buy my ticket for Capurgana at the docks by 7:30 am, and I did for COP 50,000. The lancha left shortly after 8:30, and took a bit under two and a half hours to arrive in Capurgana. A lot of people buy plastic garbage bags for their bags. My crossing was relatively calm, but evidently it was brutal the following day, and everyone got soaked. I wandered around Turbo for a bit after checking in, but didn't find anything that grabbed my attention. A couple of the locals made half-hearted attempts to beg a few pesos or sell me some coke, but it wasn't anything threatening.
Be sure to get all the cash and more than you think you'll need in Turbo, as it has the last ATMs and banks until well into Panama.
Capurgana is a pleasant enough little town, and feels as isolated as it looks on the map. Sapzurro is even sleepier, with a nicer beach. From Sapzurro, you can walk across the border to the gorgeous beach at La Miel. I stayed at Hostal Delfines in Capurgana, which is an excellent deal at COP 15,000 for a private room with attached bathroom. There are a few dive shops in town, all of which charge about COP 200,000 for two-tank dives and full equipment rental. If you're coming from Medellin and want to dive here, look into packages through Hotel Almar. They include airfare from Medellin, dives, and room at Almar, definitely the nicest-looking accommodation option in Capurgana.
Colombian military meet arrivals at the dock in Capurgana, and perform random searches of passengers' bags and passport checks.
From Capurgana, there are frequent lanchas leaving for Puerto Obaldia, across the border in Panama. Stock up on food and sundries in Capurgana or Turbo, since there isn't much available in Puerto Obaldia, and there's a good chance you'll spend more time here than you want or anticipate. Aeroperlas has cancelled service from Puerto Obaldia to Panama City - the last flight went out on Sunday. I arrived a week ago today, and promptly reserved a spot on the noon flight out. Evidently, the pilot picked up four passengers at an unscheduled stop in San Blas on the way in, so the last four of us on the list (of twenty total) were bumped. Sunday's final flight out was already fully booked, so I had to find another way out.
Puerto Obaldia is not a pleasant place. The locals are not particularly friendly, there is absolutely nothing to do (not even a beach nearby), and not much to eat. The old lady (the one with the enormous square glasses) who runs Pension Cande ($5/night) has a kitchen across the street from the pension that sometimes serves lunch, and dinner if you're lucky. Plan on $2-3 for a plate of stewed chicken or a piece of fried fish, patacones, and maybe some rice and beans or lentils. If they run out of food, look for the woman with the outdoor kitchen on the right side of the path up to the landing strip. She'll sell you fried chicken and patacones for $2 a plate. Otherwise, there are a couple of stores, where availability of goods varies.
Getting out of Puerto Obaldia, you have a few options, all of which involve lanchas. You need to get your name on the ZARPE manifest to take a lancha out of town - do this as soon as you find one that will take you. You'll probably have to put down cash for them to put you on the ZARPE list. Mulatupo has the closest airstrip with flights to Panama City. El Porvenir is another option, but six or seven hours down the coast. I wound up on a lancha bound for Miramar, in Colon province, paying $50 for the trip. We stopped three times in San Blas, at Playon Chico, another island whose name escapes me, and El Porvenir. Military searched my bags thoroughly at the middle stop, as well as checking all passengers' passports. Just after El Porvenir, we hit a squall with torrential rain. Everyone in the lancha was already soaked, but this added to the fun. Had I known how rough the sea would be after clearing El Porvenir, I would've stuck around and waited for a flight out.
At any rate, it's easy to move on from Miramar. The bridge connecting the town to the highway happened to be washed out by the storm, so I spent the night in Miramar. The next morning, I caught a chicken bus for $4.70 to Colon, and then an express to Panama City for another $2.50
The entire trip from Medellin to Panama City took six days. Puerto Obaldia is the bottleneck of the entire trip.
Mar 9, 2010 12:01 PM
Surface travel to Islands-Diving Trip report March 2010
Nov 14, 2010 6:41 PM
Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve
Thread Link to area travel.
Jan 20, 2011 1:36 PM
55Costa Rica bus Schedule. PDF format Department of Tourism Includes international buses, boats and ferrys and San Jose location map. Up to date and correct.
Feb 1, 2011 5:02 AM
56Good accurate bus schedule for Nicaragua:
Mar 22, 2011 7:56 AM
57Panama to Colombia via boats of various frequency
San Blas to Colombia
May 25, 2011 2:48 PM
58So many people ask me about getting to La Moskitia on Rio Patuca. Most (almost everybody) of them never do this trip, but here is the itineary and costs (videos are blue):
1) Tegucigalpa - Palestina Patuca
At the eastern end of the Comayagüela market you can catch a chicken bus to Palestina Patuca at 8:00am and 8:30am, close to Hotel Refugio II (highly recommended cheap hotel if you have to stay in Comayagüela what is highly not recommended). The bus ride is 100-120 Lps, depends on your face. :) The bus arrives at 3pm.
2) Palestina Patuca
There are 3 hospedajes in Palestina. The best is Hotel Viajero in the center. Hotel California is recommended, too. 150 Lps for a single, 250 Lps for a double.
3) Get a boat
The boats start 12 kms from the village, call Playa Blanca. The bus ride to the port is 30 Lps and 30-50 Lps for the equipment. If you have to spend the night in Playa Blanca (what is only a house and a store) you can get a bad bed for 50 Lps.
A private boat is 10 000 - 20 000 Lps to the Tawahka Asangni, depends on the motor (1-2 days). If you are lucky you can find some people in Hotel Viajero who are heading for La Moskitia. If you pay the gasoline and oil for them you can get a boat for 7-8000 Lps. If you have some days for waiting, you can get a cargo boat. The transport fee is 1000-1200 Lps each. In the dry season (February to April) it's really hard to get a cargo boat. Carry 50 gallons of gasoline and 5 boxes of oil with you!!!
5) Getting to the Tawahka Asangni
If you have paid 10-12 000 Lps (or less) for a boat you got a 15-40 horse power motor what is not enough to get to the Tawahka Asangni in 1 day. If your pipantero (boatman) is indigenous, your nights will be ridiculous beacuse they don't sleep in rancheros' houses. If your pipantero is ranchero you can hang you hammock up in its house for free. If you paid a 60 horse power motor you can get to Krausirpi or Karautara in 1 full day. Take all food with you beacuse there is no store on the river.
6) Tawahka Asangni
The Asangni has only 7 villages and only Krausirpi has accomodation. But you can stop in other villages and sleep in your hammock. Krautara is the most beautiful, and it's only 1 hour walking from Krausirpi where is a store and sometimes internet. You can do very exciting trips in the Colón Mountains. The Sutawala Valley is recommended, you can hike around the mountains, climb peaks. Take a machete with you because there are no trails (only one what we made in 2008 and clean every year). The guide is 3-400 Lps/day.
From Krausirpi there is a 3-4 days hike to Las Marias but I have never done before. Only 20 minutes from Krausirpi there is a small miskito village, Pimienta. It's a good base to find the airplane in the depth of the rainforest . It's a good 5 hours round-trip. 1 hour from the village there are beautiful and unknown caves with petroglyphs . The guide has to carry gun with him because there are jaguars in the cave. The guide to the airplane is 300 Lps, to the cave is 200 Lps.
7) La Moskitia
If you don't have gasoline buy it in Krausirpi but it's very very expensive (100-120 Lps/gallon) and not sure you can. So, carry gasoline and oil with you. At least 50 gallons and 5 boxes of oil you need what you can buy in Palestina Patuca (60Lps/gallon).
From Pimienta it's a 2 hours boat ride to Tukrun. It's a small village with a store. You can spend the night here if you want. Give you 2 days to hike to the Warunta Caves what is the biggest cave system of Honduras. Only a few people know where it exactly is. The guide is 3-400 Lps/day.
From Tukrun it's an hour boat ride to Wampu. It's the capital of Rio Patuca. Here you can sleep in bed for 50 Lps and eat in a comedor. There some stores and 3 cars but no roads. :) Here is a library with satelite internet. The owner is an unactive priest who hadmade choclate before but not anymore. From Wampu it's easy to get a cargo boat to Ahuas for 4-500 Lps/person or a private one for 3-4000 Lps (less if you have more gasoline).
That's the 2nd biggest town on Rio Patuca. It's a long 1 street village. This is the point if you want to change a boat to Puerto Lempira, to Barra Patuca or to Brus Laguna. You can spend the night here. There is a guesthouse (Hotel Santa Teresita, 150 Lps) close to the airport, 4 kms from the port (you can catch a truck for 50 Lps).
10) To Puerto Lempira and to Leimus/Waspan
At 2pm there is a collective boat to Puerto Lempira. The boat waits for the connection from Brus Laguna and leave 10 kms from Ahuas on Rio Dorry. This river is one of the most beautiful river in La Moskitia. The boat ride is around 4 hours to Puerto Lempira across the Caratasca Lagoon. Be ready to get wet! In Puerto Lempira there various hotels, all of them are overpriced. Everything is expensive here but you can find discos, bars, restaurants, everything.
From Puerto Lempira you can go down to the coast and there is an american fishing lodge on the coast of the lagoon. Every morning there is a truck what is heading for Leimus. The 5 hours truck ride (250 Lps) is not for faint-hearted travellers. In these days you can get the stamp on the border at Rio Coco and now there is a road and bus on the other side to Waspán, the main city on the Nicaraguan side. The bus ride is 50 Lps, the boat is 100 Lps but more beautiful. Waspán is a dangerous place so leave as soon as possible but sunset is always incredible here. The cheapest accomodation is Casa Albergue (50 Lps/night), mostly drug-trafficers and illegal immigrants stay here. In Waspán you can get an airplane twice a week to Managua, or catch a bus to Puerto Cabezas (Bilwi) for 100 Lps. From Bilwi the bus to Managua leaves 1pm in every day and arrive at the capital at 1pm on the other day. This bus ride is horrible.
11) To Barra Patuca
Barra Patuca is a small garifuna-miskito mixed settlement. Here is not a lot to do but the mouth of Rio Patuca is the home of millions of birds in November and December. The boat ride is 300 Lps/person from Ahuas (boat leaves every day), and you can spend the night here for 200 Lps.
12) To Brus Laguna
Twice a day there is a boat to Brus Laguna from Ahuas. One leaves in the morning, another one leaves around 1pm. If you miss it you can catch a less comfortable cargo boat in the afternoon. The trip is 250-300 Lps/person. The 2nd part of the trip is marvelous, thousands of crocodiles and millions of birds.
In Brus Laguna there are various accomodation. The best choice is a wooden house on the shore (Hotel Guacamaya if I remember well) for 200 Lps. There is a more comfortable hotel with air-condition for 800 Lps close to the internet cafe.
In Brus you can organize your boat to Las Marias on Rio Platano. The private boat is 8000 Lps with 3 days waiting in Las Marias. Look for the local teacher, Goliath. He has a good boat with good motor and his wife will cook you a tasty iguana soup.
13) Rio Platano
This river is magnificent. Smaller and shorter than Patuca and the transportation depends more on the weather. It's pure rainforest. From Brus Laguna it's a 5-6 hours boat ride to Las Marias where you can spend the night in local houses but in bed fro 70-100 Lps. If you arrive at the village a local man will find you and talk about trips around the village. Pay for him, he is the leader of the local tourism. A guide is 250 Lps/day. The best hike is a 3 day hike to Pico Dama, and an interesting 1 day boat ride is to the petroglyphs.
14) Moskitia Highway
If you want to leave La Moskitia overland, catch the boat at 2am in Brus Laguna what is heading for Batalla. This trip in fullmoon is very beautiful but cold as well (300 Lps). In Batalla taxi drivers wait you. That's crazy, they are sharks and the 4x4 pick-up ride (300 Lps) is horrible but very exciting. There are no roads, you cross rivers and sometimes you cross the sea. You get to Tocoa around 1pm. In Tocoa is easy to get a bus to La Ceiba, to San Pedro or to Trujillo.
Jun 23, 2011 2:05 PM
59If you're seeking information regarding moving to, traveling to as casual tourists/backpackers, facing deportation back to El Salvador, or going there long or short term for any reason. Check this out:
The blog seems to be written by an American expat (could be of a different nationality) living there, giving outsiders the expat's point of view on life there and giving the practical & cultural information such as how much things cost or how they celebrate Christmas there. (S)he does a very good job keeping up and writing about it. VERY INFORMATIVE.
Here's an intro from the blogger behind the blog:
"This blog is designed to help deportees and families of deportees (or anyone else planning to move to El Salvador) prepare for the process, what to expect and how to begin. Anyone is welcome to read and enjoy the content on this blog! It may hold value if you are planning a visit. Thanks for reading!"
Here's another one by a friend of the above on the similar set up subjects but more in depth and at a personal level. Her husband was deported from the U.S. seven months before she moved there. He was shot and now she's a widow trying to cope living in another country and gives some more interesting details & insights as well :
Here's the intro:
"A woman, a mother, a widow, a teacher, and a writer just trying to make sense of it all."
NO I am not promoting to do favours, getting compensated nor do I even know them either. I don't think they're doing this for profit either. I happened upon them and find it very interesting and INFORMATIVE to those of you seeking additional information on travelling & staying in this amazing country for any length of time.
Edited by: anyone101
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