CentralAmeriCar 2021

Day-by-day description

This exclusive and adventurous journey of 4 weeks and 7,000 kilometers takes you through a volcanic landscape surrounded by the dense jungle. We drive on winding coastal roads, along picturesque bays and pass empty beaches.The nights are planned in the most special places, with comfort and the best of Central American cuisine for you to enjoy. While you drive your own car you always have support from our experienced Dutch, German, English and Spanish speaking tour guide and team of technical experts. An unforgettable trip that you definitely don't want to miss!

Day-by-day description in PDF

Day 1| Sunday 3 October: Amsterdam – Panama City

Today your Unique Journey starts! Get on board for your intercontinental flight to capital of Panama, Panama City. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel, located in the district Casco Viejo. 
Accommodation: American Trade Hotel | www.americantradehotel.com/

Day 2 & 3| Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 October: Panama City

Days off planned. This cosmpolitan city offers a mix of attractions; you will find modern skyscrapers, while you can also wander in the typical streets of the historic centre Casco Viejo. The ruins of the original old city are still there to be found and as a finale, the world-famous Panama canal runs through the middle of the city. You can walk to the fish market and the souvenir market, but you certainly need to drink a good coffee (or better iced coffee!) at Bajareque Coffee House & Roastery (Calle 1). 
Accommodation: American Trade Hotel | www.americantradehotel.com/

Day 4| Wednesday 6 October: Panama City – Boca Chica
(ca. 430 km / 6 hrs)

Today we start with the route! You drive to the southwest of Panama, first follow the road over the Panamericana Highway and then head towards the west to Boca Chica. Boca Chica is located on the coast in the Chiriquí region. This area has it all: the highest mountains, longest rivers, fertile valleys, long sandy beaches and a diversity of marine life. Nestled amidst a beautiful tropical paradise, the accommodation we stay for the night. It is the gateway to the Gulf of Chiriqui Marine National Park with its many lush green islands, palm-fringed white sands and an incredible variety of wildlife.
Accommodation: Bocas del Mar hotel | www.bocasdelmar.com/

Day 5| Thursday 7 October: Boca Chica – Dominical
(ca. 270 km / 4,5 hrs)

You leave Panama and drive through the province of Chiriquí to the border with Costa Rica. You cross the border and drive through the green landscape towards Uvita. This coastal town is located on the beautiful South Pacific coast, where one of the most bio-diverse jungle areas dives into the Pacific. Although Dominical is not yet well known to the general public, you will find excellent hotels and good dining options here. There is plenty to discover and experience in this area, which National Geographic has named "one of the most biologically intense regions in the world."
Accommodation Cuna del Angel | www.cunadelangel.com/

Day 6| Friday 8 October: Dominical

Leisure day. Your accommodation is close to the Marino Ballena National Park where you have the opportunity to see the humpback whales swimming through the water between December and April. The dolphins are present throughout the year. If you like nature, you can visit the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Barú. Here you will find a beach where the warana’s and loggerhead sea turtles come to lay their eggs. Also more than 310 different birds and mammals lives in Barú. In the surroundings are several Indian reservations, inhabited by the Boruca and Bribri tribes. Of course there are enough beautiful beaches in the area to relax, such as Playa Ventanas. When it is tide, you can admire sea caves along the coast.
Accommodation Cuna del Angel | www.cunadelangel.com/

Day 7| Saturday 9 October: Dominical – La Fortuna
(ca. 280 km / 5,5 hrs)

Today you travel further in Costa Rica. The first part of the route, starting from the village Uvita, is unpaved and runs steeply down towards the coast. Follow a spectacular coastal road to the Northwest, which includes the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. Via ruta 702 continue the route to La fortuna, with frequent small coffee shops, where you can buy good coffee on the way. The last part you will drive through cloud forest and small villages, until you reach you destination. You will stay in the Nayara Hotel, which offers luxurious villas surrounded by the vegetation of the Costa Rican rainforest. It is a location with a breath taking natural beauty. From your pleasant accommodation you will have a spectacular view on the top of the active Arenal Volcano.
Accommodation: Silencio del Campo | www.hotelsilenciodelcampo.com/

Day 8| Sunday 10 October: La Fortuna

Today you can make your own way around the various surroundings of Arenal. Visit the Arenal National Park, make a walk through the jungle via suspension bridges which gives you a magnificent view on the 1633 metre high Arenal Volcano. Via a cable car with open gondolas you can also see the rainforest with above with views of the lake and the volcano. Highly recommend are the hot springs of Baldi, relax and enjoy the natural hot water with a temperature you would love. Or maybe you would like to visit the Rio Celeste, also known as ‘the light blue river’, located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park.
Accommodation: Silencio del Campo | www.hotelsilenciodelcampo.com/

Day 9| Monday 11 October: La Fortuna – Granada
(ca. 360 km / 7 hrs)

In the morning continue to Granada in Nicaragua. Cross the border at La Tablillias, because this border corssing is better than Peñas Blancas. After that, we advise you to make a little detour to drive via the east side of the Nicaragua Lake. Nicaragua is known as the land of volcanoes and lakes, which you undoubtedly will see during your ride. Your final destination is Granada, the colonial jewel of Central America, founded by Hernández de Córdoba in 1524. Your hotel, an antique colonial house in original style and architecture, is located at the central park and cathedral.
Accommodation: Hotel Plaza Colón | www.hotelplazacolon.com/

Day 10| Tuesday 12 October: Granada – León
(ca. 150 km / 3,5 hrs)

Today we have a short drive on the program. The road winds through the west of Nicaragua, towards the university city of León. Along the way, you can make a stop at Masaya, where you can visit the colourful market and the volcano of the same name. You can view the crater of this active volcano from above and this is easy to do by car as it takes you to the viewpoint. You can also visit a place, overlooking the Apoyo Lake, a small crater lake, where this breath taking panorama is completed with the contours of Granada in the distance in the background. León is a colourful city with a historic center.
Accommodation: Hotel El Convento | www.elconventonicaragua.com/

Day 11| Wednesday 13 October: León – El Tunco
(ca. 500 km / 8 hrs)

This day you have two border crossings. You will cross the border to Honduras and El Salvador. The destination for today is El Tunco, located in the southwest of El Salvador. El Tunco is a small surf village, 8 kilometres from Puerto La Libertad. Until a few years ago it was an unknown and quiet village, but nowadays it is crowded by backpackers and surfers. You will find nice bars and restaurants. Enjoy the spectacular sunset with the large rock formation in sight.
Accommodation:Bocas Olas hotel | www.bocaolas.com/

Day 12| Thursday 14 October: El Tunco – Antigua
(ca. 300 km / 5 hrs)

You leave El Salvador and continue to Guatemala. We recommend you to deviate the fastest route and make a small detour, driving the route from Sonsonate to Ahuachapan. This is the so-called Ruta de las Flores, a beautiful route. This route is known for its abundance of wild growing flowers with beautiful panoramic views of the mountain side of coffee plantations, lakes and dense cloudy forests. There are at least 30 coffee – producing municipalities in this region, including the most important: Apaneca, Ataco, Tacuba and Juavua. Next, follow the CA8 to the border Villa Nuevo / Las Chinamas.
Accommodation: El Convento Boutique Hotel | www.elconventoantigua.com/

Day 13| Friday 15 October: Antigua

Day at leisure! Antigua is a beautiful old colonial town. Around this town are three volcanoes which provide a wonderful view at any time. Another characteristic picture of Antigua are the cobblestone covered streets. It is lovely to stroll through this town, where you see many ruins and local markets on the road. The park is an excellent spot to relax and enjoy everything what happens around you. Enjoy a delicious Guatemalan, or international meal in one of the many restaurants.
Accommodation: El Convento Boutique Hotel | www.elconventoantigua.com/

Day 14| Saturday 16 October: Antigua – El Remate
(ca. 550 km / 10 hrs)

You will drive further north to the Petén region of Guatemala. The tropical rainforest in the Petén is the largest rainforest of Central America and the flora even as the fauna is very various. The Maya culture have built their settlements two thousand years ago and their historic ceremonial Mayan centres are spread in this area. The most famous attraction is the National Park Tikal where various temples, pyramids and squares rise up above the jungle.
Accommodation: Las Lagunas hotel | www.laslagunashotel.com/

Day 15| Sunday 17 October: El Remate – Tikal – Placencia
(ca. 350 km / 6 hrs)

The route of today is beautiful. In the morning we are going to visit the National Park of tikal. Tikal or Tik al was one of the largest cities of the Maya culture during the Classical Period. Tikal was rediscovered by a team of Guatemalan explorers in 1848 and it is listed by the UNESCO world heritage since 1979. Together with our guide we will visit the ancient Mayan city and we will learn a lot about the history of the Mayan population of Guatemala. After this, you cross the border to neighbour country Belize. Before arriving in Placencia, you can make a stop at the Herman’s Caves for a short walk to the caves, together with a guide. We recommend to take your swimwear with you, so you can take a refreshing dive. After that, you can visit the nearby Inland Blue Hole just next to the Hummingbird Highway. It is a natural bath of crystal blue water surrounded by dense green nature. The Inland Blue Hole is quite unknown, but certainly a beautiful spot. At the end, you drive through the capital city Belmopan to the hilly area of Belize. You final destination for the next two days is Placencia.
Accommodation: Turtle Inn | www.thefamilycoppolahideaways.com/en/turtle-inn

Day 16| Monday 18 October: Placencia

Placencia is the most important town on the South coast. A cosy village with nice bars, restaurants and shops. Other villages in this region are Hopkins, a Garifuna fishing village and Dangriga with its special musical centre. You are going to stay in Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn resort. You can walk from the beach to the city in about 20 minutes. The decoration of the hotel is very tasteful and the style has something Balinese. The accommodation consists of swimming pools, a spa which is located at the Placencia lagoon, two restaurants and a beach bar. Besides that, you can enjoy beautiful beaches, do snorkelling and scuba diving.
Accommodation: Turtle Inn | www.thefamilycoppolahideaways.com/en/turtle-inn

Day 17| Tuesday 19 October: Placencia – Chichén Itzá
(ca. 620 km / 8,5 hrs)

In the morning continue driving to Chichen Itza, known for the eponymous Maya site. You approach Yucatan today, Yucatan is the largest peninsula in the southeast of Mexico. This part of Mexico is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and in the south it borders to neighbours Belize and Guatemala. Yucatan has much to offer even the moist spoilt traveller!
Accommodation: The Lodge at Chichén Itzá | www.mayaland.com/en/hotels/chichen-itza/the-lodge-at-chichen-itza

Day 18| Wednesday 20 October: Chichén Itzá – Campeche (ca. 300 km / 4 hrs)

You will visit the amazing archaeological site of Chichén Itzá. Also called the main temple city of the Maya culture which was considered to be an important political and economic centre of the Maya civilization in this region. The different are still to be seen and reflect the extraordinary feeling for architecture and composition. The pyramid itself, was the last and perhaps the biggest Mayan temple. Chichén Itzá is one of the seven new wonders of the world, since 2007. Chichén Itzá dates back to the sixth century and remained an important religious centre to around 1200 ad. After you visit to the Mayan site you continue to Campeche, one of the most beautiful cities on the peninsula Yucatan. On the way to Campeche you can choose to visit the temples of Uxmal, 80 kilometres south of Mérida.
Accommodation: Hacienda Puerto Campeche | www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cpehl-hacienda-puerta-campeche-a-luxury-collection-hotel-campeche/

Day 19| Thursday 21 October: Campeche – Palenque
(ca. 400 km / 5,5 hrs)

Today you will drive further inland to the most southern state of Mexico, located on the border with Guatemala, called Chiapas. You will be staying in Palenque, which was one of the most important Maya cities nestled in the tropical rainforest. This beautiful Maya city is still little visited and you will really feel like an explorer.
Accommodation: Chan Kah hotel  | www.chan-kah.mx/default-en.html

Day 20| Friday 22 October: Palenque – San Cristobal de las Casas
(ca. 225 km / 5 hrs)

You drive in southwest direction further into the state of Chiapas. The state of Chiapas is named after the indigenous population who lives here and is descended from the ancient Mayan civilization. Religions and traditions from the Mayan are still alive and kicking. A visit to Chiapas is like a special journey back in time. It is one of the most authentic regions of Mexico. Chiapas is also a place for nature lovers and people who want to be active. Just past the Tuxtla Gutierrez town with crossing the Grijalva river you will pass the Cañon del Sumidero. You will stay in San Cristóbal, a place that is worth to visit! This authentic city consists of colourful colonial houses and cobbled streets. A lovely town, where life is a gear lower. With her relaxed, artistic atmosphere is San Cristóbal de las Casas a famous town for backpackers and people who wants to learn Spanish. 
Accommodation: Bo hotel | www.hotelbo.mx/

Day 21| Saturday 23 October: San Cristóbal de las Casas

Day off planned. You could (possibly accompanied by a guide) visit the beautiful surroundings of San Cristóbal. Visit the Indian villages San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán, or do another activity like guided mountain bike tours and a salsa class in the evening. San Cristóbal is known for its colonial architecture. You will find particular churches, such as the brightly coloured Cathedral at the Plaza 31 de Marzo, where can have a seat and observe the town. Also the Santo Domingo church with its impressive façade is a highlight, especially in the evening, when the sixteenth-century church is illuminated. The interior is richly decorated with golden elements. The Maya population with their traditional costumes comes from different nearby mountain villages to the market in San Cristobal every day, to sell their handmade goodies. The market is very colourful with own woven clothing, table clothes, jewellery and other Mayan products.
Accommodation: Bo hotel | www.hotelbo.mx/

Day 22| Sunday 25 October: San Cristóbal de las Casas – Puerto Escondido
(ca. 630 km / 9,5 hrs)

There is a long ride on the program today. Your final destination is Puerto Escondido, known for its good kitchen. This place belongs to the Oaxaca region and borders the Pacific Ocean. There are many small towns at the coast where surfers stay. For that reason, many trendy hotels and restaurants settled down. On the beach you will find Palapas, covered with palm leaves, including hammocks. A nice place to relax between the cities.
Accommodation: Hotel Escondido | www.hotelescondido.com/

Day 23| Monday 25 October: Puerto Escondido – Oaxaca (ca. 270 km / 7 hrs)

Today you drive to Oaxaca, the capital of the region of the same name. They started building a highway 12 years ago, but it is still not finished to this day. This means that you have a long, but beautiful ride ahead. You leave the coast and drive the first part through green and tropical forests. Along the way you can see the banana plants and feel the sweltering warmth. Slowly but surely the landscape changes and the banana plants give way to coffee plants. The road creeps up and you pass several mountain passes. The views are breath taking looking out over different valleys. Meanwhile, you drive through a mountain landscape with conifers and enter the city of Oaxaca. The colonial architecture, colourful villages and hospitable people with their deep-rooted traditions make Oaxaca so beautiful.
Accommodation: Quinta Real Oaxaca | www.caminoreal.com/quintareal/quinta-real-oaxaca

Day 24| Tuesday 26 October: Oaxaca

Today you have time to explore the city of Oaxaca and its surroundings. The city has a beautiful colonial center and there is a lot to see on the street. There is always a reason for a party in Oaxaca and that makes it a lot of fun to walk around the main square in the evening. There are many restaurants and terraces where you can eat well, because Oaxaca is known for its good cuisine, the city is the center of the moles, type of sauces. There is also a lot to do around the city. Just outside the center of Oaxaca you will find one of Mexico's most important archaeological sites, Monte Alban. The city was an important center for the Zapotec and probably came about 500 years before Christ. Not far from Oaxaca is the town of Santa Mariá El Tule, which is known for El Árbol del Tule (the tree of Tule). This tree has a diameter of no less than 14 meters. El Tule is located on the road to Mitla, an archaeological site of one of the major cities of the Zapotec. You can also visit Hierve el Agua today. These are water sources in which the water bubbles out of the limestone. This hot spring has cooled a bit in recent years, but has left a swimming pool from which you have a great view of the Sierra Madre mountains. In addition, the lime in the water has left behind impressive lime waterfalls. On the way back to town, you may come across a traditional Mezcal brewery. Against the background of the Sierra Madre, the men are brewing Mezcal.
Accommodation: Quinta Real Oaxaca | www.caminoreal.com/quintareal/quinta-real-oaxaca

Day 25| Wednesday 27 October: Oaxaca – Catemaco
(ca. 400 km / 8 hrs)

This day you will definitely have to deal with some impressive turns. The road to Tuxtepec winds through green valleys, with one view even more beautiful than the other. When you reach Tuxtepec, you leave the mountains behind and the route passes through a rolling landscape, where, among other things, a lot of sugar cane is grown .. Finally you reach the town of Catemaco, located on the shore of the lake of the same name. This town in the state of Veracruz is known for witchcraft and shamanism. Once a year there is also a shamanic festival that draws people from all over Mexico.
Accommodation: La Finca Catemaco | www.lafinca.mx/

Day 26| Thursday 28: Catemaco – Tecolutla
(ca. 350 km / 6 hrs)

The route for today runs almost all day along the Gulf of Mexico and eventually you will end in a very nice spot on the coast. The route is fairly flat and on the way you could make a stop for lunch in the historic port city of Veracruz.
Accommodation: Bon Jesus hotel | www.bonjesushotel.com/

Dag 27| Friday 29 October: Tecolutla – San Miguel de Allende
(ca. 560 km / 7 hrs)

Today you drive inland to the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. You will also go back into the mountains and you will again have to deal with beautiful mountain roads through a green and hilly environment, where you will again be treated with beautiful views. If you go out early, you could take a look at El Tajin, take about 3 extra hours for this. El Tajin is a very beautiful archaeological site, which dates from the first century of our era, but had its heyday between 700 and 1000 years AD. The impressive structures that can be found on this site also date from this time. On the way to El Tajin you will also pass the city of Papantla. This is where the acrobats come sailing down with ropes from meters high masts. These arts are regularly shown at the central square of Papantla, but also at El Tajin. Finally, travel via the north side of Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico.
Accommodation: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende | www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/san-miguel-de-allende

Day 28| Saturday 30 October: San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is like an open air museum, with cobbled streets and colourful, colonial Spanish houses with bougainville which grows up against the stucco walls. Once you arrive in San Miguel de Allende, you will notice that the pace is a lot lower here. The birds are chirping while the locals meet each other on the main square. San Miguel de Allende was founded in the 16th century by the monk San Miguel, the first name of the town. The name of freedom fighter Allende is added in the 19th century. Ignacio Allende, the full name of this particular man, has contributed to the independency against the Spaniards. San Miguel de Allende was de first municipality with independency. The town is home for many artists and writers, what you will see in the large number of art galleries.
Accommodation: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende | www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/san-miguel-de-allende

Day 29| Sunday 31 October: San Miguel de Allende – Mexico City
(ca. 275 km / 4 hrs)

The last route of this spectacular trip leads us to the capital Mexico City. It isn’t a long drive today, so you can still make several stops along the way. For example, you can have a look in the colonial city of Queretaro, a city which was the capital of Mexico for three periods. You can also have a look at Teotihuacan, the enormous Aztec city. You will stay in the comfortable St. Regis Hotel centrally located on the Paseo de la Reforma.
Accommodation: St. Regis hotel | www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mexxr-the-st-regis-mexico-city

Day 30| Monday 1 November: Mexico City

Leisure day, enjoy the Mexican capital at your own pace. If you are interested in archaeology, the Templo Mayor, between the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, is a must. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, it was the largest and most important Temple of the Aztecs with a height over 60 metres. The pyramid is mostly destroyed by the  Spaniards and many stones are also used in the construction of the Cathedral. The leftovers of the pyramid are uncovered in 1978 and you can enter the complex with an archaeologist which will learn you more about the Aztec culture. Go for a lunch to the roof terrace of the Down town Hotel which overlooks the main square, of course we will arrange the best table for you. An absolute must is the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, located in the beautiful city park Chapultepec. The museum is located in a beautiful modern building, which will tell you the whole anthropological history of Mexico. There are also many art and utensils to find of the various pre-Columbian cultures, like the Aztec, Zapotec and Maya.
Accommodation: St. Regis hotel | www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mexxr-the-st-regis-mexico-city

Day 31| Tuesday 2 November: Mexico City – Amsterdam

Unfortunately, this very special, versatile car journey is over. You will be taken to the airport where you will board for your intercontinental flight. You will arrive the next day.

Day 32| Wednesday 3 November: Amsterdam

Arriving at Schiphol.

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