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3 weeks in Central America

Haywards Heath...
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3 weeks in Central America

Hello!

Me and a friend are planning a backpacking trip to Central America and I'm after a bit of advice as to the best countries to visit in a 3 week period?

We're flying from London but flights to the region seem pretty expensive/long with various stops, so the best option seems to be Cancun or even Miami, then on from there.

I was hoping to get to Nicaragua but it seems flights even from Miami or Cancun are disproportionately expensive and a bus will take a fair chunk of travelling! So the question is, for a relatively small amount of time, would anyone be able to recommend an itinerary or advise of a good route to encompass a couple of countries?

Many thanks in advance!

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Cancun
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Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Central America
7 replies to this topic
The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

My favorite country in Central America is Guatemala and it combines well with Honduras and Belize. I'd look into your options for flying into Guatemala and out of Cancún (or Belize) or the reverse; it would be worth some extra cash on the flights to save the money and time of retracing your steps for the return flight. You could do a loop heading south into Belize, through Guatemala, then back into México through a different border, or just focus on the Yucatán Peninsula and Belize and nip into Guatemala for a visit to Tikal and maybe Yaxhá. You could easily spend 3 weeks flying into Cancún and traveling through that area of México, for what it's worth.

A really great trip would be starting in the Guatemala highlands (at least Antigua and Lake Atitlán), hitting Tikal in the north, and heading east into Belize for some caving and blue water time, then stop at a nice beach or 2 (and maybe some add'l Maya sites) in México before flying out of Cancún.

My photos with blog links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy trails!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

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Guatemala
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Honduras
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Central America
Belize
Belize
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Antigua
Antigua
Sacatepequez Department, Guatemala
Maya Beach Hotel
Maya Beach Hotel
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Placencia, Belize
Haywards Heath...
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2. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

Thanks so much for the info!

I'm wary of trying to fit too much into a small time and constantly being on the move, so all your recommendations are appreciated! I'll check out your blog links now.

Ben

Saint James City...
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3. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

If you would like to go to Nicaragua, look at flying on Spirit from Ft. Lauderdale. Realize it’s a bare bones airline, you pay for luggage, even a carry on. However, a one way flight is less that US$150.00. You could easily spend your entire time in Nicaragua and not see all it has to offer.

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Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale
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Haywards Heath...
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4. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

I'll definitely have a look into that. I'd like to go there but unfortunately such limited time. Like you say, I'm sure I wouldn't scratch the surface even with 3 weeks in Nicaragua, but if there are reasonable flights id like to have some time there!

Any advice on Caye Caulker or the corn islands? Won't have time to go to both!

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Saint James City...
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5. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

I don’t spend a lot of time on Caulker, though, it’s a pleasant place. Too quiet for me, but, getting busier every year.

I’ve only been to Big Corn. The beaches are fabulous, hotels very reasonable (though, I’m not a backpacker, more of a ‘moderate’ traveler). But, it’s the only place I’ve visited in Central America or the Caribbean where we really didn’t feel welcome. Not overt, no one was nasty, just not welcoming. Weather changed, and, we were unable to get to Little Corn.

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6. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

I'm not sure what your priorities are so it's difficult to give good advice.

If you fly to Cancun to save money, don't forget about border crossing fees (Mexican Immigration will ask for 500 pesos when you leave Mexico at the Mexico-Belize border, and Belize departure fees amount to US$20), and bus fares, although not very expensive, will add up. An express bus from Cancun to Belize is about 800 pesos. There are cheaper buses, but then they will take more time.

If you want nice beaches, some of the best in the region are in Mexico. Belize isn't known for fantastic beaches, and the only other attraction in Belize that might be of interest is a cave tour. Maya sites? Some of the best are in Mexico & Guatemala. Barrier reef? Interested??

I like Caye Caulker as nice, laid-back place, but the beaches aren't fantastic and the swimming is not great.

If you really want to see Nicaragua, then just fly there. If you want a backbacking trip through a few countries, then the Cancun to Nicaragua trip (via Belize, Guatemala & Honduras) sounds good, but you'll have only 3 to 5 days in each country. I know other backpackers who have done this in a similar time period, a while they didn't see every square metre of the region, that wasn't their intention, and they all had a good time.

Edited: 30 March 2018, 23:08
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Mexico
Mexico
North America
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Maya Beach Hotel
Maya Beach Hotel
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Placencia, Belize
Guatemala
Guatemala
Central America
Caye Caulker
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Haywards Heath...
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7. Re: 3 weeks in Central America

Thanks for the advice guys.

With regards to priorities, we haven't really got any yet. Just wanted to get a feel for what we could do in those 3 weeks really. I'm thinking it'll either be staying in the northern part, Mexico , Guatemala and Belize or flying down to Nicaragua and then work our way back up.

Out of interest, do you happen to know how long a bus would take from Guatemala to Nicaragua?

Would definitely be interested in the barrier reef! I suppose what we're looking for is a mix of nice beaches, meeting other travellers, volcanoes and exploring, snorkeling and finding a few places with a fairly lovely night life for a few evenings. If we get time, we'd probably look to go to either Caulker or Corn islands if theyre worth visiting .

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