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  • Scuba Diving or Snorkeling on the Belize Barrier Reef (Belize): Running the entire length of the country's coastline, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second-longest continuous barrier reef in the world. Here you will find some of the best snorkeling opportunities and scuba-diving sites in the world. Whether it's shallow water snorkeling over multicolored fan and staghorn coral, or scuba diving with whale sharks off of Gladden Spit, the opportunities are nearly endless and almost always amazingly rewarding.
  • Horseback Riding through the Cayo District (Belize): The Cayo District is a perfect area to explore on horseback. Rides can be combined with visits to jungle waterfalls and swimming holes, as well as nearby Maya ruins. Mountain Equestrian Trails (tel. 669-1124; www.metbelize.com) has one of the better stables and horse-riding operations in the Cayo District.
  • Climbing an Active Volcano (Guatemala): Guatemala's mountainous terrain is predominantly volcanic, and many of these volcanoes are still active. There's nothing as primal as climbing the flanks of an active volcano or peering down into an erupting crater. Both of these experiences are possible on a climb to the summit of Pacaya volcano. Once Pacaya's whetted your appetite, there are numerous other volcanoes here to scale, including Santa María, Tajumulco, Agua, and Acatenango.
  • Mountain Biking Rural Back Roads (Guatemala): The back roads and dirt paths of rural Guatemala are perfect for fat tire explorations. Whether you choose to take a ridge ride between small villages or a more technically challenging ascent or descent of a volcano, there is something for all ability levels. Old Town Outfitters (tel. 502/5399-0440; www.bikeguatemala.com) is one favorite operator, and has excellent guides and equipment, and a wide range of tours and trips.
  • Hiking and Swimming in Parque Nacional El Imposible (El Salvador): Parque Imposible is one of El Salvador's largest, most lush, and richest-in-wildlife national parks, and it's dotted with streams, waterfalls, and natural swimming holes that are perfect for swimming. Tacuba, the small town just outside the park, serves as a great base camp for hiking trips.
  • Trekking through La Mosquitia (Honduras): Rich with wildlife and home to ethnic groups like the Miskito, Pech, Garífuna, and Tawahkas, Central America's largest tract of rainforest is nothing less than spectacular. Community-based tourism initiatives, run directly in the indigenous villages themselves, can assist in your exploration of the swamps, wetlands, grasslands, lagoons, and beaches here.
  • Bird-Watching in Honduras: Trogons, motmots, tanagers, scarlet macaws, boat-billed herons, resplendent quetzals, and toucans are only a small fraction of the avian life you will encounter in places such as Lancetilla, Lago de Yojoa, Pico Bonito, Cerro Azul, and Celaque. Some areas of the country have recorded as many as 400 species.
  • Kayaking Around Isla Juan Venado (Nicaragua): Pelicans and herons step over crocodiles, iguanas, and caimans as you paddle through a labyrinth of channels and waterways in this protected mangrove swamp on the Pacific coast, close to León.
  • Hiking through Miraflor Nature Reserve (Nicaragua): Miraflor is a slice of Eden in the northern highlands of Nicaragua. Orchids bloom amid begonias and moss-draped oak trees, while toucans and parakeets hide among the foliage. Hike La Chorrera trail as far as a 60m-high (197-ft.) waterfall, going past ancient caves and prehistoric mounds.
  • Trying the New Adventure Sport of Canyoning (Costa Rica): While far from standardized, canyoning usually involves hiking along and through the rivers and creeks of steep mountain canyons, with periodic breaks to rappel down the face of a waterfall, jump off a rock into a jungle pool, or float down a small rapid. Pure Trek Canyoning (tel. 2461-2110; www.puretrekcostarica.com) in La Fortuna, and Psycho Tours (tel. 8353-8619; www.everydaycostarica.com) near Puerto Jiménez, are two of the prime operators in Costa Rica.
  • Kayaking Around the Golfo Dulce (Costa Rica): Slipping through the waters of the Golfo Dulce by kayak gets you intimately in touch with the raw beauty of this underdeveloped region. Spend several days poking around in mangrove swamps, fishing in estuaries, and watching dolphins frolic in the bay. Escondido Trex (tel. 2735-5210; www.escondidotrex.com) provides multiday custom kayaking trips out of Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula.
  • White-Water Rafting & Kayaking the Chiriquí & Chiriquí Viejo Rivers (Panama): Depending on which section you raft, these two rivers produce serious white-water ranging from technical Class 3 to Class 5, some portions of which are so difficult they've been named "Fear" and "Get Out If You Can." There are plenty of tamer floats on Class 2 rivers, such as the Esti, for families and beginners. Virtual solitude, beautiful views, and lush surroundings are part of the tour, too. Contact Chiriquí River Rafting (tel. 720-1505; www.panama-rafting.com) in Boquete or, for kayaking, Panama Rafters (tel. 720-2712; www.panamarafters.com).
  • Swinging Through the Treetops on a Canopy Tour (Panama and throughout Central America): This unique adventure is becoming quite the rage. In most cases, after a strenuous climb using ascenders, you strap on a harness and zip from treetop to treetop while dangling from a cable. There are canopy tours all around Panama, and throughout Central America for that matter. Check the various destination sections to find a canopy tour operation near you.

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.