advertisement

Two weeks will fly by when you're traveling around Central America. Though it is possible to visit three to four countries in this time frame, you will unfortunately have to sacrifice some amazing places on the way. Below are two suggested itineraries, one visiting the northern four countries and the second touring the southern three. There are of course numerous other combinations for tours in the region -- you might want to mix and match the suggestions below to create your own itinerary. The following itineraries were also designed with the presumption that you'll be taking private shuttles and taxis. Those on a tighter budget will have to slow right down, to allot more time for traveling between destinations.

Belize, Guatemala, Honduras & El Salvador in 2 Weeks

Days 1 & 2: The Northern Cayes, Belize -- Arrive in Belize City and head straight for the beach, in this case the pristine Northern Cayes, where you can spend 2 days snorkeling with friendly sharks in Shark-Ray Alley. Then enjoy the spectacular ocean view from San Pedro Holiday Hotel.

Days 3, 4 & 5: Placencia, Belize -- Head south to the hip little beach town of Placencia. Soak up some rays on this white sandy paradise and feel like a film star by staying at Francis Ford Coppola's Turtle Inn.

Days 6, 7 & 8: The Maya Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala -- Tan suitably topped, it's now time to grab some culture. Take a taxi from Belize and cross the border into Guatemala. Enjoy the awe-inspiring temples of Tikal and then go on a sunset cruise around the island town of Flores.

Days 9, 10 & 11: Copán, Honduras -- The laid-back colonial town of Copán across the border in Honduras offers intriguing ruins regarded as the "Paris of the Maya world," as well as hot springs, a famous cigar factory, Flor de Copán, and an excellent boutique resort, the Hacienda San Lucas.

Days 12, 13 & 14: The Balsamo Coast to San Salvador, El Salvador -- Round your holiday off with some more beach bliss, this time Pacific side, at El Salvador's Playa los Cóbanas. Here you can go scuba diving around the colorful tropical reef before retiring to the cliff-top Las Olas Beach House. Spend your final day enjoying the magnificent views of the Balsamo Coast from the cliff-side infinity pool, trying not to think of your flight home from San Salvador the next day.

Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama in 2 Weeks

Days 1 & 2: Managua to Granada, Nicaragua -- Fly into Managua, but don't hang around the bewildering, shabby capital of Nicaragua -- instead, depart right away to the radiant colonial city of Granada. Sip a rum on the rocks from the gigantic balcony of the Hotel Plaza Colon overlooking the colorful plaza. Catch a horse and carriage ride through the city's enchanting cobbled streets and take a short boat tour of Las Isletas archipelago.

Days 3 & 4: Tour Ometepe Island & Arrive in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua -- Take a day tour of the twin peak jungle island of Ometepe before transferring to the beach town of San Juan del Sur. Stay at the lovely villa known as Posada Azul and eat in the artful garden of El Colibri. The following day, catch a water taxi up the coast to some beautiful, secluded beaches or, if your timing is right, opt for a night excursion to watch the spectacular turtle hatching in Playa La Flor.

Days 5 & 6: Arenal & Monteverde, Costa Rica -- Get up early to make the journey across the border to Costa Rica, where you can watch molten lava flowing from Arenal Volcano, while safely sitting poolside at the Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. On your second day, take a day trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve if you're feeling adventurous.

Days 7, 8 & 9: Playa Montezuma, Costa Rica -- Grab a cab and go south down the Nicoya Peninsula until you reach the funky, hippie hangout that is Playa Montezuma. Stay at the relaxing Amor de Mar, which boasts beautiful gardens on the Pacific coast.

Days 10 & 11: The Quetzal Trail, Panama -- Enough lazing around -- it's time to cross the border into Panama and make your way to the town of Cerro Punta. Send your baggage on ahead while you take a 1-day hiking tour around the Barú Volcano through a tropical paradise known as the Quetzal Trail. Take a break and keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful but elusive bird of the same name. Catch up with your luggage at the town of Boquete and stay at the Coffee Estate Inn, where you can relax in bungalows surrounded by romantic fruit gardens.

Days 12, 13 & 14: Bocas del Toro to Panama City, Panama -- Nearby Boquete is the party-beach town of Bocas del Toro. Here you'll find excellent surfing on crystal blue Caribbean seas, and you can explore the nearby island utopias known as Cayos Zapatillas. Then retire to your thatched-roof lodge high up in the forest canopy at the La Loma Jungle Lodge. The next day, transfer to Panama City for your flight home.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.