11 DAY - PANAMA, COSTA RICA AND NICARAGUA

The highlights of Central America

11 Days

In this diverse tour you will be able to experience the best of these 3 amazing countries. Enjoy the greatness of the Panama Canal, explore the rainforest and volcanoes, be amazed by the wildlife and waterfalls and relax at the unique beaches.

 

Day 1

Panama City

Reception at the airport and transfer to your hotel.

Panama is flanked by archipelagos and is only 30km wide at its narrowest, you can swim in the Pacific and the Caribbean on the same day! Pass through mountain springs and rainforest in the cool highlands.
Panama City is the gateway to Latin America and a vibrant destination in its own right. Panama City is a thriving centre for international banking and trade. Scattered throughout the city lie colonial neighbourhoods, monolithic skyscrapers and windswept ruins of old Spanish settlements. Visitor to Panama City are often awe-struck by the colonial district of Casco Viejo, a dilapidated neighbourhood of historic buildings and cobbled streets reminiscent of old Havana. Crumbling on the edge of the sea for decades, Casco Viejo is priming itself to charm and enchant visitors once more.

Day 2

Panama City - Gamboa

Early departure to Soberania National Park and wolrd famous Pipeline Road, a paradise for bird lovers and ecologists. Onward drive to Gamboa.

 

Soberania National Park, with 22,104ha, is one of the most accessible tropical rainforest areas in Panama. It extends much of the way across the isthmus, from Limon on Lago Gatun to just north of Paraiso. It features hiking trails, the Rio Chagres, part of Lago Gatun and a remarkable variety of wildlife. Known residents include 105 species of mammals, 525 species of birds, 55 species of amphibians, 79 species of reptiles and 36 species of freshwater fish. Hiking trails in the park include a section of the old Sendero Las Cruces (Las Cruces Trail) and the 17km Pipeline Rd, providing access to Rio Agua Salud, where you can walk upriver for a swim under a waterfall. A shorter, very easy nature trail is Sendero El Charco. The trail is signposted from the highway, about 3km (1.9mi) past the Summit Botanical Gardens & Zoo.

 

B

Day 3

Gamboa - Panama City

Pick up from Gamboa for a partial Canal Transit from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean (operates only on Saturdays). In the evening, delicious Panamanian-style dinner at a restaurant located in the centre of Panama City (only Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

 

The Panama Canal is both an engineering marvel and one of hte most significant waterways on the planet. Seeing a huge ship nudge its way through the narrow canal with vast tracts of virgin jungle on both sides is an unforgettable sight. As impressive as it is now, an ambitious expansion plan is set to completely transform the canal. Stretching 80km (49mi)from Panama City on the Pacific coast to Colon on the Atlantic coast, The Canal provides passage for nearly 14,000 ocean-going vessels per year. The easiest and best way to visit the canal is to go to the Miraflores Locks, on the north east fringe of Panama City, where a platform offers visitors a good view of the locks in operation. Although it's difficult to thumb a ride on an ocean-going vessel, there is no shortage of pricey tours and cruises that allow you to transit the canal - the entire journey takes an average of nine hours.

 

B
L
D

Day 4

Panama City - San Jose

Transfer to airport and flight to San Jose. Transfer to your hotel in San Jose.

B

Day 5

San Jose - Arenal

Early morning departure from San Jose for a private tour to a third generation coffee plantation, Poas volcano and La Paz waterfalls gardens.

 

Poas volcano covers 65sq km, Parque Nacional Volcan Poas encircles Poas Volcano (2,700m), a restless giant that formed more than one million years ago and is ephemerally volatile. Its peak activity occurs in an approximately 40-year cycle. The volcano had a minor eruption in March 2006.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens feature the Hummingbird Garden, which draws 26 species of hummers - about 40% of the nation's 56 species. The Butterfly Gardens, which is enclosed by a massive netted dome the length of a football field. The major attraction are five thunderous waterfalls plummeting through ravines on the north east slopes of Poas Volcano.

 

B
L
D

Day 6

Arenal

In the morning walk on Arenal hanging bridges. In the afternoon drive to Arenal National Park where a trail, partially over lava stone, leads to the volcano look-out. Observe the constant emissions of gases, vapors of water and explosions. Very impressive spectacle. Afternoon visit of Tabacon hot springs.

 

Arenal volcano is the country's most active volcano, Arenal Volcano National Park spreads over 120sq km. Rising from the San Carlos Plains, the majestic Arenal is one of Costa Rica's most rewarding sights. Arenal ceased activity between the 13th and 16th centuries, and stayed inactive until July 29 1968, when an earthquake awakened the sleeping giant. The perfect conical 1,650m high volcano now smolders incessantly and minor eruptions occur almost daily. At night it looks like a firecracker as it spills out red-hot lava.

 

B
L

Day 7

Arenal - San Jose - Managua - Granada

Transfer to San Jose and flight to Managua, Nicaragua. Transfer to Granada.

 

Nicaragua represents to the new generation of travellers booming beach breaks, volcano hiking, island paradises and laid-back colonial towns. It seems that the message - "the civil war finished decades ago people!" - has finally gotten across to a world who had the country pegged as a trouble spot. Yet the iconic images of idealistic young people giving their lives for a dream of liberty endure, and Nicaragua remains a land where people, whatever their beliefs, tend to go beyond cheap chatter. A place for artists and poets, the country's people are an even greater asset than its natural splendour. Though not super-popular with travellers, its volcanic skyline and cosmopolitan charms have inspired a library's worth of poems.

 

B

Day 8

Granada

Visit to the beautiful colonial city of Granada. The excursion ends with a boat ride to the islands of Lake Nicaragua.

 

Granada is nicknamed 'La Gran Sultana' (The Great Sultan) in reference to its Moorish namesake in Spain. It is Nicaragua's oldest Spanish city and a colonial gem. Founded in 1524 by conquistadores. it's set against the imposing backdrop of Volcano Mombacho on the north west shore of Lake NIcaragua.

 

B
L

Day 9

Granada - Ometepe - San Juan del Sur

Early transfer to San Jorge Port to take a ferry to Ometepe Island, the biggest island on a fresh water lake. Visit the Pre-Columbian Museum, the Green Puddles Lagoon and enjoy the views of Concepcion volcano and the green Madera volcano. Back to the port to take the ferry and transport to San Juan del Sur.

 

Isla de Ometepe is the sort of place that belongs in a fairy tale; an island formed by twin volcanoes rising from a lake. This ecological jewel sees plenty of visitors but remains happily unspoiled: rough-and-ready but relaxing, whether you plan to lounge on the beach, chat to plantain pickers or climb a volcano,

San Juan del Sur is set on a horseshoe shaped bay framed by picturesque cliffs. It is Nicaragua's main beach resort, and tourism is rapidly replacing fishing as the town's raison d'être. The charms it offers to Expats and backpackers are easy to identify: surfing. fishing and enjoying the simple life.

 

B

Day 10

San Juan del Sur - Managua

Morning at leisure to relax on the beach or visit the small fisherman town of San Juan del Sur. Afternoon transfer to the hotel in Managua.

B

Managua

Transfer to the airport.  End of an experience of a life-time!

B

Included:

10 nights hotel accommodation, breakfast and meals as detailed in the itinerary, transfers and excursions as detailed in the itinerary.

Not Included:

Airfares, tips and gratuities.
Anything not mentioned as included.

Notes:

Rates available upon request.
Rates are subject to change without notice and availability.
Rates are not applicable during special events.
Minimum 2 people. Single person travelling alone: please ask for private rates.

MEALS:

B.  Breakfast included
L.  Lunch included
D.  Dinner included

Why Choose BFirst Travel?

BFirst Travel, a wholly owned Australian tour company, ATAS/AFTA accredited and helloworld affiliate. For the past 15 years we have specialised exclusively in Latin America. We know a few parts of the world, and we know them well. Our been there, done that expertise elevates your experience beyond the ordinary, to the level of adventure with comfort! "Travel is all about the experience, which starts with your travel preparations”.

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