Smoking volcanoes spin by as a sea of Mayan weaving lurches from one side of the chicken bus to the other. With the Mayan majority on constant display, dramatic geography, and prices a student could love, for some, Guatemala is the quintessential Central American experience. One of its mandatory stops, incredible Antigua Guatemala, was once the capital of an enormous swath of the Americas. Frozen in time for centuries thanks to repeated earthquakes, today it has been impeccably restored in all its rubble and glory ... not to mention it's the best traveller's hub from here to Cuzco. From crater lakes to the ruins of Tikal, it's a miracle Guatemala is still off the radar for so many. Let's hope it stays that way.
Central America Explorer (CGCA)
The ultimate exploration of Mayan culture for those who want the complete experience but prefer a more comfortable option. Explore the ruins at Copán and Tikal, walk the cobblestones in the colonial cities of Suchitoto and Antigua, and take part in a Mayan tree-planting ceremony after a local lunch on breathtaking Lake Atitlán. From the Caribbean flavour of Livingston to lesser-visited El Salvador, your local CEO will show you the region’s hidden gems and make sure your trip burns brightly in your memory long after you've left this crossroads of Mayan culture.
Highlights: Explore ancient Mayan ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites, meet local artisans and watch demonstrations of their traditional techniques, visit modern day Mayan communities and participate in a Mayan tree-planting ceremony, take a cooking class and enjoy the results for lunch
Backroads of Central America (CRSG)
Take the road less travelled through Central America with other travellers your own age—so you can be sure to get down with other adventurers that’ll keep up. This is one of our most exciting trips, filled with breathtaking scenery—from tropical rainforests alive with jungle melodies to colonial cities bouncing to a decidedly more human beat. You'll blaze your own path as you discover a region of volcanoes, craters, beaches and lush forests. Sticking to budget accommodation and public transport will keep costs down and you rooted in local life.
Highlights: Connect with your hosts in an Ometepe homestay experience, laugh with the locals during a chicken bus journey, bliss out on a remote stretch of Nicaraguan beach, stroll through Antigua's colonial streets, explore Mayan ruins, sample regional specialties like El Salvador's pupusas.