CA-01Central America with a Canadian travel office Adventures Abroad
Date of travel: Feb 10 – Mar 4, 2001
This trip was to go also to El Salvador, but a strong earthquake there, while we were in Nicaragua, cut out our trip to El Salvador and extended our stay in Nicaragua.
On Feb 10 late drive in a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles Airport (LAX). On Feb 11 early morning flight via San Salvador in El Salvador to Managua in NICARAGUA. Our original itinerary between Feb 11 and Feb 17 unchanged visiting the country capital Managua, Park National Volcano Masaya, a historic town of Granada, a day trip by ferry to island Ometepe formed by 2 volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua, then in a resort at Pacific Ocean, followed by an old Nicaragua capital Leon. Wherever one looks in Nicaragua there are volcanoes and many are still active. On Feb 18 started a substitute program with a flight on a small plane with one propeller and wheels reminding legs of a mosquito from Managua across Lake Nicaragua to San Carlos, where the San Juan River starts flowing from Lake Nicaragua along the border of Costa Rica all the way to Caribbean Sea. Then by a narrow boat with an off board engine on this river several hours to a jungle lodge deep inside a rainforest. We spent 3 days taking canoe rides with local Indians here.
Then back on a narrow boat to San Carlos and to islands in Lake Nicaragua where we were 2 days before sailing back to San Carlos and by the same plane to Managua. On Feb 24 we left Managua, Nicaragua on a plane via San Salvador, El Salvador to Guatemala City, GUATEMALA. We had a sightseeing tour of the city. Next day flight to Santa Elena Airport in the north of Guatemala. Near it we had a sightseeing of Tikal one of the most famous ancient cities of Maya people. Then flight back to Guatemala City and by bus to the original capital of Guatemala Antigua. Besides the sightseeing of this historical city we also explored its surroundings specifically Lake Atitlan with a boat ride on it, visiting some of the places on its shore and admiring the 3 over 3 thousand meters high volcanoes crowning the scenery. The lake itself is an ancient caldera of a gigantic volcano. What held good for Nicaragua, many volcanoes, the same holds good for Guatemala. Another place visited from Antigua was a colorful Indian town called Chichicastenango. To give hold to café growing in Guatemala we visited a café factory owed by a Czech, who left Czechoslovakia in 1954. Our trip ended on March 3, when we left Guatemala on plane. Mine was a direct flight to LAX landing before midnight, but it took me until 2 AM on March 4, before I got in a rented car home to Vista.
Travel office: Canadian travel company Adventures Abroad with which I was in a direct contact.
Who took part: 10 American, Canadian and British tourists, a Canadian leader Cloud M. and local guides
CA-09 Center America – El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize
Date of travel: Mar 12 – Mar 25, 2009
In the evening Mar 12 I drive a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles airport. At midnight I fly to the city of San Salvador in the country EL SALVADOR. I am there in the morning Mar 13. Through my hotel I arrange a sightseeing trip of the city for the afternoon. It starts on the main square, Plaza Barrios. My local guide takes me to Catedral Metropolitana. Later we drive past the National Theatre. Then we go outside the city to Mt. Diablo. Next day with the same guide I take a trip to Lago de Coatepeque outside San Salvador. Sugar cane grows on most of fields. El Salvador is a country of volcanoes and some of them are just outside the city. We drive to the top of Cerro Verde (Green Mountain) from where we see several volcanoes. Then we continue to Lake Coatepeque, which is surrounded by them. The lake itself is a large caldera of an old volcano. When returning back to the city the road crosses a lava field from eruption in 1970. In the evening I meet the other 22 members of our group in our hotel. On Mar 15 we have a sightseeing of the city San Salvador while the whole country El Salvador is in the middle of parliamentary elections.
Then we drive by bus to HONDURAS. Our accommodation is in the town of Copan near the famous Maya excavations. The following day motor rickshaws are taking us to the ruins of Maya Copan. Copan is one of the most important Maya sites. It is thought that it was founded 200 BC. It is an extensive place with many plazas. In the afternoon there is an individual sightseeing of the modern town of Copan.
On Mar 17 we cross on a bus without stopping the border to GUATEMALA. At noon we stop at a banana plantation and soon at the excavations of Maya town Quirigua. One pyramid, some buildings and number of steles are excavated, but the majority of the place is still covered by jungle. Later in the afternoon we drive to the old capital, Antigua. Our 5* hotel there is built in ruins of old monastery which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. There are 3 volcanoes in proximity of Antigua. The following day there is sightseeing of this historical town. Though the houses of Antigua were repaired after the 1773 quake most of the religious buildings were only patched against further damage. One of the exception is the church “Nuestra Senora de la Merced,” which is freshly renovated. On Mar 19 we drive from Antigua to the town Chichicastenango known for its Indian markets. In mid afternoon we continue to the town Panajachel at Lake Atitlan with 3 other large volcanoes guarding it. The following day we take a motor boat ride on the lake to town Santiago Atitlan which we explore. On the same ship back to Panajachel.
On Mar 21 we are leaving for the Guatemala City. Guatemala is a mountainous country so we drive up and down all the time. In the afternoon there is sightseeing of the city, mainly Plaza Mayor, where all the important buildings are concentrated. Later on we take a plane to Flores, which is about 50 km from excavations of the Maya city Tikal. Next day is sightseeing of Tikal. Also this is one of the very important and extensive Maya places, who had lived there from 800 BC to 980 AD. In its heyday it accommodated some 150 thousand people. On Mar 23 we drive in easterly direction. Along the way we see rather primitive houses of descendants of the original Maya people. Later on we visit smaller excavations of two Maya towns, Topoxte and Yaxha. The Mayas lived in them from 700 BC to the arrival of Spanish in 16. century.
In mid afternoon we reach the border between Guatemala and BELIZE. For the night we are in a small town San Ignacio, which is buried in jungle. Unlike all the previous Spanish speaking countries, the official language of Belize is English, because it used to be a British colony. The following day is a daytrip through jungle to the largest Maya excavations in Belize, Caracol. Because there are dangerous bands in this area, the tourist buses drive in groups. Caracol was discovered only in 1938. One plaza was excavated just in 1988. The people lived here already in 600 BC. On Mar 25 we drive from San Ignacio to Belize City. Soon the countryside becomes flat only few feet above the sea level. The Belize City is some two feet below the sea level protected only by the sand of beaches.
Later in the afternoon I fly from the Belize City via Dallas F.W. in Texas to Los Angeles and by a rented car home to Vista.
Travel office: Pavlus Travel – with office in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Who took part: The first 2 days I was alone in San Salvador and I arranged sightseeing for me through the hotel. Total of 23 travelers plus 2 guides formed our group.