I traveled to Central America in March 2018. Two friends and I signed up for a G Adventures trip where we would be traveling to five countries, and ten different cities in Central America. I was both very excited and nervous for this trip. Although I have seen most of and traveled a lot within the US, Canada, and Italy I haven’t been on a trip like the one we signed up for, Volcano Trail. I had practiced my Spanish using dual lingual for two months before the trip, and I was excited to put my learning to the test!
Throughout the the trip we traveled with a group of ten people including our energetic tour guide Brian- who accompanied us on most of our adventures. In each unique country and city we experienced the culture, food, people, language and adventure. Each day was full of excitement, I think a huge part of this had to do with how well our group got along with each other and how much fun we packed into each day.
Bellow you can see pictures from each city and a little summary of each experience. If you have traveled to any of these places before, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section! Or if you have any questions about this trip or the cities I visited, comment bellow and I will write back!
The first city we visited was Antigua, Guatemala. Landing in Guatemala City we were a little nervous leaving the airport. On our way out front the airport we saw a bunch of people siting in the back of trucks carrying shotguns ready to go. This was a huge culture shock coming from Canada. Once we turned into Antigua, it was like we were in a whole new safe little world. The city was so charming with cobbled stone streets and tuck tucks driving down narrow streets.
We were the first to arrive out of our group, we dropped off our stuff in our rooms and we went out to explore the city. We meet Choko from lemon tree hostels who was very kind and showed us around the colourful streets. One of the most memorable parts was walking up all 325 steeps to get to the top of Cerro de la Cruz. From there we could see a beautiful view of Antigua, and witness the preparation in decoration being prepared for holy week. From here, we could see three volcanoes called Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. A combination of both dormant and active volcanos.
The night life in Antigua consisted of karaoke bars and salsa dancing followed by going to the disco. Our group really hit it off the first night of the trip. We bonded instantly and were all around the same age. The city is very small, it feels more like a village. It was easy to get everywhere by foot and all the popular spots were close by to one another.
We traveled from Antigua to Copan by bus, we were a small group so we each had a full bench to ourself on the bus. When we arrived in Copan we instantly noticed the many hills in the city and colourful buildings.
While in Copan I celebrated my birthday. We visited the Copan Ruins and learned about the history and centuries that have yet to be dug up. For breakfast and lunch we enjoyed Baleadas which are similar to quesadillas but with different ingredients and covered in delicious sauces. We toured the city, went shopping, took a ride in a tuk tuk and at night went on a jungle truck ride to the hot springs.
The jungle truck had seats in the back of the truck, we took a hour long ride along a dirt road from the city centre of Copan into the jungle. It was a bumpy ride, we blasted music and sung songs the whole way to the hot springs destination. At the hot springs we were submerged in natural waterfalls, spring water and cool and hot temperature water. After the hot springs we feasted over a delicious barbecue before heading back to Copan for a night of dancing.
Copan Mayan Ruins
Copan is home of one of the most known cities of the ancient Maya civilization. Built between 400 and 800 A.D, it is known for its stone temples, sculptures, and temples. As it was abandoned, restoration of this civilization continues.
El Salvador- Suchitoto
Arriving in Suchitoto by bus, we dropped our bags in our rooms and headed up to see the rooftop view from our building. Suchitoto is a charming city with characteristically white and coloured buildings. We spent the day walking around the streets, going to different markets, and grabbing lunch near central square. We even took a boat ride from the beach to an island.
Steep outside the city centre, and Suchitoto has a lot of litter. Walking to the beach it was pretty hard not to steep on litter over the dirt roads. The Island we visited was called Donkey Island, almost no litter here.
Suchitoto is filled with unique front doors and colourful buildings.
We walked to a 98 year old women’s house who has been making cigars since she was 25 years old. She taught us each how to roll the cigars by hand, and shared some of her life experiences. She says her secret to living a long life is that she never smoked a day in her life and she never got married.
El Tunco, El Salvador
Next up was El Tunco Resort, one of the most beautiful stays of the trip! This resort had two large pools, along with three huge natural ocean water pools by the ocean. Each pool was at a different level so you could experience rough, moderate, or medium waves. The pools were surrounded by the oceans dark rocks and black sand, the sunsets were breathtaking from this view.
One morning I woke up at 6am, just in time to run out and see the sunrise. It was truly beautiful, although similar, watching the sun set and the sunrise are both worth sticking around for.
Throughout the days, there were plenty of shaded hammocks to relax in along with pathways to explore and black sand beaches. I spent most of my time swimming, reading, exploring and I even painted this picture of the view in my watercolour journal.
After our relaxing stay in the El Tunco resort, we packed our bags and headed 4 hours to a boat where we would travel from the shore of El Salvador, to the shore of Nicaragua. Along the way we saw many beautiful volcanos.
Once we arrived at the Nicaraguan Boarder, we walked onto a beautiful black sand beach. We had to wait a while to get our passports stamped before we could cross and head onto Leon, while we waited we saw wild horses walk by along with other tourists heading out to El Salvador.
Once we were in Leon, we toured the city by foot, enjoyed the Nicaraguan sunset from a rooftop patio, and gathered for dinner at a local restaurant. There was a lot of graffiti and murals in Leon, as well as spaces for people to gather , play ball, and skate.
One of the days we were in Leon, we headed out to an active Volcano where we hiked to the top carrying volcano boards on our back. The goal was to hike up, then board over volcanic rocks to the bottom. When we got to the top it was windy and the views were spectacular seeing multiple volcanos in the distance. Boarding down the volcano was dusty and fast, we wore protective coveralls, googles, and a helmet to prevent injuries.
Granada is yet another beautiful Central American City with lots of colour and beautiful skies. Over our stay here, we went to multiple markets where we could buy souvenirs, went swimming and kayaking in a volcano cove, and witnessed the lava in a active volcano.
One of the most memorable experiences was visiting Tio Antonio Hamaca a hammock shop where all the hammocks are made by deaf people. I purchased my hammock from here, and I love it! It is so well made, and I love the colour combination.
We traveled to Ometepe by bus, once we got close enough we took a ferry to the island. On the island we did a homestay around Lake Nicaragua where we stayed with different families and gathered for group meals at the comunity center. The first morning, we woke up at 3:30am to have breakfast with our host so we could get a early start to hiking Copcoin Volcano. This volcano on average takes between 8-12 hours to hike.
The volcano was very steep, along the way we saw monkeys, plants, snakes, and shacks. Once we got closer to the top there was less plants and more rock. We were eventually submerged in clouds and the wind started to pick up the closer we got to the top. To get to the top, near the top we had to climb up by getting on our hands and knees, it was so wet at this point, we were literally in the clouds so we were drenched.
At the top of the volcano we could see nothing but clouds, each other, and the rocks beneath our feet! The way down was steep, we couldn’t help but uncontrollable run down at times causing us to stumble and tumble down large sections of the volcano. Tumbling down the volcano for 20 meters at a time uncontrollably became common knowledge, my friend Jenny and I stoped asking each other if we were okay because it happend so often. After 4 hours walking down, we had finished climbing the volcano. It took us 8.5 hours in total to climb the volcano.
The rest of our time in Ometepe was spent enjoying Lake Nicaragua’s beautiful colourful sunset and catching up with other traveler’s who were off on a different adventure on Omaetpe island.
Monteverde, Costa Rica
Our visit in Monteverde included zip lining through the jungle, visiting a coffee plantation during the day, and going on a night walk in the evening. We even got to fit in climbing a ficus tree. The zip lining ended with a tarzan swing as a way to get down from the trees. The coffee plantation tour taught us all about how coffee and chocolate is made, and on the night walk we saw a variety of wild animals including snakes, frogs, and scorpions.
Monteverde views are rich in greenery and blue skies. Up in the mountains, there is little flat ground and the air is windy and cool.
LA Fortuna, Costa Rica
In LA Fortuna, we each stayed in mini cabins. There was a pool for people staying at this resort and volcanos surrounding the city. One of my favourite parts of LA Fortuna was going to the natural hot riven. In the evening we hiked with the group to get to the stream where many people were gathered siting in the shallow hot river and enjoying the night sky with friends. The water was consistently flowing fast enough that you would flow down the river if you were to lift your feet.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Last stop was San Jose to catch our flight back to Canada, on the last night we eat our dinner in the hostel and spent time saying our goodbyes to one another. It was a great trip and I look forward to keeping in touch and maybe going to visit some of the new friends I made in the UK.
Throughout my journey, I traveled with a sketchbook, capturing my favourite moments and scenery. See some of the spreads bellow.