Greater Central Mexico
Say hola to an essential highlights tour of Central Mexico – more than just tacos and tequila – taking you into the heart and soul of this spicy land. Explore ruins at Teotihuacan and Tzintzuntzan, discover life in San Miguel de Allende as you travel the countryside, taste traditional sweets in Morelia and visit cathedrals and historical sizes of various colours, shapes and histories. Whether you’re hanging out in a quirky bar in Puebla, exploring the ancient ruins of Mitla or discovering the vibrant art scene of Oaxaca, you’re guaranteed to get a taste of Mexico’s magic at every turn.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (18 nights)
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Mexico. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your group leader and travel group. Modern meets ancient in Mexico City – one of the world's largest urban centres. Although crowded, Mexico’s capital offers a great variety of impressive museums, galleries and architecture, along with exciting nightlife and delicious street food. Head to the Zocalo, the city's central square, to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture, relax in one of the many parks, plazas and gardens or, better yet, take an Urban Adventure tour with an expert local guide. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Mexico-City-tours.
Enjoy a leader-led city tour taking in some of the most historic sights of the city, including a visit to the Zocalo in the centre of the city, as well as Templo Mayor, the Government Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Afterwards, the rest of your day is free. If art is your thing, head to the Frida Kahlo museum in the Colonia del Carmen neighbourhood. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. Speak to your group leader for more recommendations in and around this bustling metropolis. In the evening, explore Mexico's exciting night life, learn some dance moves from the locals and party the night away to the sounds of a mariachi band.
Travel from Mexico City by private vehicle for a guided tour of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and on the way, learn some Spanish lingo with an informal language class with your group leader. Located 50 kilometres north-east of Mexico City are the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan. This was once the country's biggest ancient city and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. With the help of a local guide we have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago. Continue on to Queretaro (approximately 3.5 hours), where the bustling city streets give way to a pretty scene of plazas and museums. On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the city. Queretaro's downtown area was named a World Heritage site in 1996 and the town has been at the centre of several important events in Mexican history. This was where the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified in 1848, ending the Mexican-American War and ceding a large amount of territory to the USA. Queretaro was also where Austria's Archduke Maximilian was executed in 1867, and the city where the Mexican Constitution was signed in 1917.
Spend a free day exploring the pedestrian streets, plazas, churches and museums of Queretaro, or alternatively, head out on a day tour along the wine and cheese route. Several wineries and cheese farms allow visitors and let you see the different stages of production, as well as sample different varieties of their produce. Another option is to take a trip to Pena de Bernal: an imposing rock formation, considered to be the world's third largest monolith after Gibraltar and Brazil's Sugar Loaf. The village at the foot of the rock is a charming town with cobblestone streets and colourful houses as well as artisan stalls selling wool blankets and ponchos, quinces, guavas and peanut candy.
Today, journey to the historic San Miguel de Allende (approximately 1.5 hours). On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation tour of this colonial town and will also take you inside the San Felipe Neri and La Parroquia churches, as well as the Independence Museum, to learn about the town's role in the Mexican War of Independence. Spend some free time strolling the streets, visiting one the numerous galleries, and admiring the architecture, understanding why the city received World Heritage status in 2008.
Take a 2-hour drive to the colourful streets of Guanajuato. Today you leader will take you on a walking tour of the city to get you acquainted with its mansions and tree-filled plazas. The historic heart of the city has a very European feel with sidewalk cafes, museums, theatres, markets and monuments of mostly neoclassical and baroque architecture. This afternoon, why not visit the Alhondiga de Granaditas (Regional Museum of Guanajuato): a museum which was originally a grain storehouse, then a fortress, and the site of the first major rebel victory in Mexico's War of Independence. Today it showcases the history and art of the region. Especially impressive are Jose Chavez Morado's murals on the staircases.
Spend a free day strolling around the historic downtown and the colourful houses of Guanajuato. Alternatively, you could discover the city's silver mining history at La Valenciana mine. Silver was first discovered in Guanajuato in the 1600s and La Valencia subsequently became one of the richest and most productive silver mines in the world. You can see an example of the wealth generated from the mine at the nearby church. You may also like to visit the Museo de las Momias (Mummy Museum). Many mummified bodies have been found in the ravines around Guanajuato, due to the soil and weather conditions that prevail in the area. The mummies date from the mid-1800s up until the 1950s and the museum has over 100 in its collection. Guanajuato was also the birthplace of Diego Rivera, and his childhood home has now been converted into a museum, with the ground floor a reconstruction of how the home may have looked during Rivera's time, and the upper floors containing exhibitions of his art and sketches.
Drive 4 hours south to Patzcuaro. Discover this city's pretty streets and impressive churches on an orientation walk with your group leader. Later in the afternoon, take a boat trip out to Janitzio Island. The boat takes about 20 minutes out to this popular island, famous for its fishermen using butterfly nets, and the dominating statue of Jose Maria Morelos: a hero of Mexico's independence.
Visit the World Heritage-listed stone ruins of Tzintzuntzan en route to Morelia (approximately 1.5 hours). These ruins were part of the Tarascan empire up until the conquest by the Spanish in the 1520s. The site that remains today was part of the ceremonial centre and contains a large plaza and five circular pyramids which are iconic to the region. On arrival in Morelia, your next stop, the group leader will take you on a walk through the city to get your bearings. You will also have time to visit the pink-stone cathedral, which houses one of the largest organs in Latin America.
Morelia is a great place to just walk around and take in the atmosphere, as well as being a photographer's dream. The historic town has been used in many movies and advertisements, and is a popular place for wedding and family photographs. One of the most impressive sights is the aqueduct that crosses the city, supported by 253 baroque-style arches. The music conservatory, housed in a former convent, is also well worth a look, as are taquerias dotted throughout the city. To satisfy a sweet tooth, Morelia also boasts the Mercado de Dulces, or Candy Market, with hundreds of sugary treats, as well as crafts and sweet liquors on offer.
Return to Mexico City, perhaps with a stop to visit the breathtaking El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve on the way (season depending). It's home to millions of these colourful beings from December to March each year, so your group leader will be able to decide if it’s a good time to visit. Outside of these months, return directly to Mexico City, and spend some more time scratching the surface of this vibrant hub. Say salud to your group with dinner at a local taqueria tonight – your leader will know a great spot to eat.
Today is a free day in Mexico City. Your leader can assist you to book any optional activities.
Your leader will show your newer group members around the historic city centre; as you've already done this on Day 2, you can spend the day doing whatever takes your fancy in the heart of Mexico. The dome-topped Palacio de Bellas Artes is a must-see attraction. Within the stark white marble palace, you will find walls painted by the likes of Diego Rivera. Why not sit down for lunch at a fonda (a home that a family has opened to the local community as a restaurant). You can usually grab a typically delicious three course meal for less than 5 AUD. Alternatively, you might like to join an Urban Adventure, such as the orginal markets and street food tour. Find out more at urbandventures.com
Say Adios to Mexico City this morning and travel by private vehicle to Cacalomacan (approximately 2 hours) and get crafty with a Mexican Metal Embossing Workshop. Learn about the art of embossing and hear the stories behind the talented artisans as you create your own piece of intricate work. After mastering the art of embossing, indulge in a delicious lunch, wash it down with ‘la copita’, a unique cocktail made of capulin, guava and tejote, and perhaps try out some of your new Spanish – delicioso! Continue on your 4-hour journey to Puebla. Learn the local lingo en route as your learned leader teaches you the all-important phrases – like how to order a cerveza! Arrive in Puebla at around 6 pm and get to know the city on a short orientation walk with your leader. The rest of the evening is at leisure, Puebla has plenty of markets where you can brush up on your bargaining skills or pick up some local handicrafts. For dinner this evening, why not try some mole poblano, a native Puebla dish that's famous all over Mexico.
Today is free for you to explore at your own pace. Perhaps check out one of the many well-maintained churches and buildings from the colonial period or brush up on your bargaining skills at one of Puebla’s any markets. If you're looking for something active, go for a hike near one of the area's looming volcanoes, or visit the Great Pyramid of Cholula – containing five miles of tunnels and ancient history with the enormous Popocatepetl Volcano serving as a backdrop. Puebla is also Mexico’s culinary capital, so why not head out and indulge in some street food such as chiles en nogada (stuffed chillies covered in creamy walnut sauce). For something a bit more dramatic, check out a Lucha Libre show, the famous Mexican sport where masked musclemen combine wrestling and theatre in a memorable performance. This evening, head out for an optional group dinner before joining your leader for a drink at La Pasita. Pasita is a sweet liqueur made of raisins, served in a caballito (tequila glass), and decorated with a cube of fresh goat cheese and a raisin stuck on a toothpick. This bar is particularly famous because of its particular way of serving the pasita – quench your thirst with this delicious beverage, listen to the story behind the fame, and admire the unique decor which makes the bar a stand-out.
Get cosy with the locals as you travel by local bus to Oaxaca (approximately 4 hours), where a culinary paradise will await you – this is a great time to crack a book or take a nap. Stretch your legs with an orientation walk once you arrive, and the rest is up to you. A beautiful old colonial town, Oaxaca is full of graceful arcades and colourful markets. Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling colourful woven blankets and shawls populate the markets – a great place to shop for textiles and margarita flavours. The city is also known for its arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance as well as its many unique regional dishes – and you should feel free to let your nose lead the way – tamales de rajas (chilli and tomato tamales) are a good place to start, a delicious hand-held meal that’s been a staple in the area for thousands of years.
Check out more of what Oaxaca has to offer on a full day tour of the city and the surrounds. Meet your local guide this morning, who will take you to the Mitla ruins, which were once the religious centre for the Zapotec, an indigenous people of Mexico. Later, sip on the famous, tequila-like local booze, mezcal, at a mezcal factory and visit the Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old tree that's over 11 metres in girth. Head back to your hotel and if you still have the energy, the evening is free for you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.
Today is a free day to explore Oaxaca at your own pace. Why not try your hand at whipping up the local cuisine with a cooking class, or venture to Hierve el Agua which is a group of stunning natural rock formations where the minerals resemble cascading waterfalls, or perhaps visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban and check out the amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Alternatively, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies, including the delicious banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tamales’ to the spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious fare, usually sold by the lovely old ladies of the markets. Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is an also a great optional activity.
Adios to those who are ending their journey here.
- Oaxaca - Guided full-day tour including the Tule Tree and a Mezcal distillery
Best Western Majestic
#73 Avenida Madero
Phone: +52 5555218600
Oaxaca Real Hotel
Calle de Manuel García Vigil 306
Phone: +1 (951) 506 07 08
None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. Cobblestones and uneven roads are common and you may be required to walk in hot and humid conditions. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your sales consultant so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs.
1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
MONEY WITHDRAWAL: In order to avoid fraud and theft, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
LOCAL LODGINGS: On this trip you will be staying in some restored houses and local lodges - these are one of the charms of this journey, but their staircases, balconies and passages etc may not always comply with western safety standards. Please do not expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
LIFE JACKETS: While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
WhatsApp is a popular way to communicate in Latin America. We recommended downloading WhatsApp prior to departure to communicate with by text with your leader and group members during the tour. Once downloaded, please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. Connections for making phone calls through WhatsApp are not reliable, so please do not use this app to make calls to our emergency phone line.
If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit. For further information regarding country entry and exit fees, please refer to the 'Money Matters' section of this document.
Mexico - Passport holders from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and The United States of America are not required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for the most up to date information. You will be required to fill out a Multiple Immigration Form (FMM) upon arrival. This FMM form must be stamped by Mexican immigration and kept until you leave. The maximum stay is 180 days, but they may sometimes put a lower number unless you specify otherwise.
Why we love it
Stand at the foot of the mammoth Pyramid of the Sun at the archaeological site, Teotihuacan – it’s a sight to behold!
Take a boat to the island of Janitzio, famous for its friendly fisherman, tightly packed buildings, and towering figure of Mexican hero Jose Maria Morelos at its centre.
Get crafty with a Mexican Metal Embossing Workshop, meet the artisans who create these masterpieces and try it out for yourself, who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a new talent!
Quench your thirst with a glass of Pasita in Puebla’s famous ‘La Pasita’ bar. Knock back this sweet liquor with your travel companions on an included visit – it’s your guide’s shout!
Ditch the guidebook and make the most of your expert leader. Get all the best tips, tricks and first-hand insider knowledge to make sure you make the most of your free time.
Is this trip right for you
Mexico's climate is sultry and tropical, so can get really hot and humid. Wear loose clothing and make sure stay hydrated, especially while out on walking tours.
From the historic city tour of Mexico City to visits to archaeological sites around the countryside, this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness.
It's a good idea to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but can be shy, so you'll need to make an effort to break the ice. It's a great way to show respect and involve yourself in their culture.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.
Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.
Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.
More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.
For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets we understand your dietary requirements are important, however, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. We recommend researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to the equivalent of an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
MEALS NOT INCLUDED:
For this trip we recommend between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out?
Breakfast - If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.
Lunch - If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.
Dinner - At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.
These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.
CREDIT CARDS & ATMs:
ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities across Latin America. Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.
Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to and what their fees and charges are. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. If bringing over cash, please note USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Mexico currency information - The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). You can pay with major credit and debit cards at many hotels, restaurants and stores but otherwise plan on making cash purchases with pesos. You can use major credit cards and some debit cards to withdraw pesos from ATMs and over the counter at banks. Few businesses accept US dollars however this is the easiest currency to exchange.
ENTRY AND EXIT FEES:
The below country specific information was correct at time of writing, however please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information.
Mexico - If you enter Mexico by air, the MX$500 immigration fee is included in your airfare. If you enter Mexico overland, the immigration office will arrange for you to pay this fee at a nearby bank. You will receive an FMM card upon entry which you need to retain and present upon exiting the country. If you exit Mexico overland, there is a Mexican Tourist Fee (DNI - Derecho de No Inmigrante) of MX$558 (US$30).
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers. We do however recommend that you tip in the local currency - Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
- Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$5. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% of your bill.
- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide. We suggest US$3-5 per passenger per day.
- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest US$3-6 per day for drivers.
- Local guides: There might be times during the trip where you’ll have a specialist local guide alongside your trip leader. We suggest tipping these guides about USD$2-3 per day.
- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx USD$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
What to take
Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 15-20kg for check in luggage and a maximum of 5kg for carry on.
Other than the items and clothing you always need on a trip, below we have listed packing suggestions specific for this trip:
- Warm as well as light clothing. Central America is often assumed to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so we suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer
- Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
- Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments
- Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
- Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and Band-Aids.
- Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both
- Travel beach towel
- Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes
- Insect repellent
- Camera with spare memory card, charger &/or batteries
- Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate
- Phrase book
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your safe if available. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
Laundry is available at many hotels and towns during this trip, although you might need to wait for a two-night stop in order to make sure you get it back in time. While laundry at hotels is usually charged by the item, laundromats usually charge by the kilo, which is generally inexpensive (about USD 2 per kilo).
Climate and seasonal
Please note that Hurricane season is June to October, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:
Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Costa Rica): +506 6022 4721
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Hotel (18 nights)