For travellers willing to step outside their comfort zone, who don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart with an open mind, an eye on the budget & a nose for adventure.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
This document contains essential information that you need to prepare for, as well as information you will need during your holiday with us.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
An experienced local guide plus there will be the services of local guides at some sites. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing as indicated.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, meals, entrance fees, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
This tour passes through volcanic areas. In the instance, a volcano becomes potentially dangerous and authorities declare nearby towns unsafe for travel, the itinerary will be re-routed. Where possible, We will provide advance notice of such changes. At short notice, when this is not possible, your tour leader will provide up to date information on behalf of us.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Costa Rica. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Please note that Costa Rican authorities require a Yellow Fever Certificate for visitors arriving from some countries in South America (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela).
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Guatemala. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Australians, British, Canadians, New Zealanders and Americans do not require a visa to travel to Honduras for stays of up to 30 days. Passports are required by all visitors.
Passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival for all visitors to Nicaragua. For Australians and New Zealanders, visas are required, they can be obtained upon arrival at a cost of USD$25.00. Canadians, Americans and Brits do not require a visa. Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens must all hold documents and tickets required for onward travel and at least USD$200.00. They must also buy a Tourist Card on arrival for a fee of USD$5.00
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Please note that Costa Rican authorities require a Yellow Fever Certificate for visitors arriving from some countries in South America (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela).
Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up-to-date information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
Malaria: There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option, but preferably one without a frame.
When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Keep in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
- Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, final itinerary and this document
- Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
- Money belt and small padlocks
- Small first-aid kit
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
- Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes/ tissues
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
- Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
- Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
- 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) and dry bags
- Refillable water bottle
- Phrase book
- Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
- Wind and waterproof rain jacket
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
- Swim wear
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Diarrhoea Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
Sunstroke It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
Water In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The unit of currency is the Costa Rican colon and bank notes come in 50, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000 denominations. There are also coins for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100 colones.
The unit of currency is the Guatemalan quetzal, it is named after their national bird. 1 quetzal (Q) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of Q100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of Q1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos. The US dollar also became an official currency in 2001.
The unit of currency in Honduras is the lempira. Notes come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 lempiras. There are 100 centavos in a lempira, these coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos.
In Nicaragua, they use the Nicaraguan gold córdoba (C$) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of C$100, 50, 20 and 10, and 50, 25, 10 and 5 centavos.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
It is becoming easier to find ATMs in Costa Rica, they can even be found in some smaller towns nowadays, but please do not rely on this. ATMs that accept American Express and MasterCard/Cirrus are probably a little harder to find than the Visa/Plus machines. Change all you can in San Jose as ATMs are much easier to find here. If you are going to take cash or travellers cheques into Costa Rica, then it is best to take US dollars. It is easy to change travellers cheques in US dollars, but you will be charged to change them, there is a smaller fee to change US cash. It can be a more lengthy procedure to change travellers cheques (make sure they are American Express, these are the most widely accepted). Make sure you get enough local currency when you first arrive at the airport as US cash is not accepted for taxis.
Only bring US dollars to exchange in Guatemala - any other currency is extremely difficult to change. ATMs are only available in cities and tourist towns. MasterCard is virtually useless in Guatemala, so make sure you bring a debit/credit card with a Visa/Plus sign on it. It is possible to use MasterCard, but it is much more difficult and can be a hassle. The quetzal can be difficult to exchange outside of Guatemala so you should only change what is necessary or convert your quetzals back to US dollars on leaving the country.
You should take US dollars only to Honduras, it is extremely difficult to change any other type of currency and you will usually get the same rate whether you have cash or travellers cheques. ATM’s are not common in Honduras, they tend to only be inside banks, not making them accessible outside of banking hours (Mon-Fri 0900-1500, some banks open until 1800. Some branches open Sat 0900-1200).
It is best to take US dollars with you to change in Nicaragua. Once you have changed your US into Nicaraguan cordobas, you are stuck with the cordobas for good, so spend them, because all they are good for once you leave the country are souvenirs. Traveller's cheques are easiest to cash in the capital Managua. ATMs are popping up all over the country but are easiest to be found in Managua and Grenada.
You will need to take money with you to cover any additional meals/drinks not included in your tour cost. You will also need to budget for bottled drinking water plus such things as tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing, optional activities and excursions, and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that can happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement is made later by the insurance company. This is a situation where a credit card can be useful.
We suggest that you allow approximately US$35 in Costa Rica per day for your meals, snacks and drinking water where necessary. Allow approximately US$15 per day for souvenirs and shopping, more if you are a big spender.
Shopping is a personal thing that, again, varies enormously. On average, people spend anywhere between US$500 and US$200 on souvenirs, art, tailor-made clothes etc.
In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities.
In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Some departure taxes are now added into the cost of your airline tickets and paid for at the time of purchase. Others must be paid at the airport of departure and will need to be budgeted for. The following information was correct at the time of writing, please check the latest information with your travel agent: Costa Rica (International) US$28.
In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Some departure taxes are now added into the cost of your airline tickets and paid for at the time of purchase. Others must be paid at the airport of departure and will need to be budgeted for. The following information was correct at the time of writing, please check the latest information with your travel agent: Guatemala (International) US$30 plus Security Tax US$3.
International/Domestic US $35/US $3
Although the culture of tipping may not be part of your own culture it is nonetheless part of the culture in this area of the world and it is often the way someone such as a waiter makes a living. On our group touring trips your local leader will advise you on this matter, however, as a guideline we would recommend a tip of 10% in restaurants and US$2 per person, per day for a local guide at a site. If you are unhappy with a service of course you are under no obligation to leave a tip - however if the service has been satisfactory please consider our advice above.
On many of our group touring trips, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a tipping kitty whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then the tour leader pays the tips and keeps a record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour is returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing what is an appropriate amount to tip. A tipping kitty is not used in every country in Latin America, however where it is used, we find the above system is the easiest and fairest method. The usual amount contributed to the tipping kitty is about US$2-US$3 per person per day.
Your local leader also works hard to ensure that you have a great holiday and a tip for them is appreciated. If you are happy with their service we recommend US$3 per person per day, given at the end of your trip. The same would be applicable for the driver of any private transportation that we use.
Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel name and address. Your final itinerary is provided approximately two weeks prior to departure.
If you have confirmed and paid for an airport transfer with us, please look for your driver in the arrivals area outside the customs hall. They will be holding a sign with your name on it and/or our company logo. If you cannot see them, please call our local operator for assistance:
24 Hour Emergency:+502 5778 4052 or + 502 5207 4914
If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival. You should use the official airport taxi company, which can be located just after the arrivals hall.
There will be a pre-departure meeting on the evening of Day 1 at 6pm. Please check on the message board for a note from your tour leader, confirming the time and location of the meeting.
Generally, your room will be available from around midday. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until your room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's pre-tour accommodation that will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12 noon unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Costa Rica tends to be a little more expensive that other Central American countries, San José is the most expensive part of the country. A beer will cost between US$1 to US$2 A cheap meal will cost between US$2 to $US4 A litre of water will cost approximately US$1
Guatemala is an inexpensive country. A cheap meal will cost about US$3, a beer will set you back about US$1.50 and a litre of water is about the same cost as beer.
Honduras is an inexpensive country. A cheap meal will cost about US$2, a beer will set you back about US$1 and a litre of water is about the same cost as beer.
Nicaragua is an inexpensive country a litre of water will cost about US$0.70, a bottle of soft drink is around US$0.60 and a bottle of beer will set you back US$1.80. A cheap main meal can be as low as US2.00.
Central America is different and that’s what makes it such an fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. The locals live with these issues everyday. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. If you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Central Americans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
Please be prepared for the inconvenience of sights such as museums and churches being closed to tourists on public holidays (ie. Christmas Day and New Years Day). Throughout Latin America, most museums also tend to be closed on Mondays.
24 Hour Emergency:+502 5778 4052 or + 502 5207 4914
We work with partner organisations in each country we visit. This ensures we provide employment opportunities within local communities, including our experienced local leaders. We minimise the negative impacts of travel and maximise the benefits to the regions we travel, through working with our ethical services providers.
For any assistance prior to travel, please contact your travel agent.
For assistance whilst you are travelling, please contact the local numbers listed on your travel itinerary, as your call will be received in the same time zone. Alternatively, if you have already joined your tour, please direct your enquiries to your local tour leader.
Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua
Antigua, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala
Roatan is an island, which means it's surrounded by water, which means there are loads of water-based adventures to be had here. Don't forget this is the Caribbean, so the water is clear and there are tonnes of multi-coloured fish and heaps of white sand beaches around. Google 'Roatan Island' and see for yourself.
In the evenings chat with locals in any of the lively bars and enjoy a cold light house beer
Say goodbye to Roatan and hello to Comayagua, which is, according to some travel sources, "a great place to witness colonial architecture meeting modern day life". Which basically means it's a really good-looking old town that people still live in. That's kind of it. Grab a beer and take it all in.
Spend one whole day travelling across the border into Nicaragua, then one whole day in Granada exploring as you please. Grabbing a boat and heading out to Lake Nicaragua is a great shout - as is visiting the Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Parks.
Travel by bus and boat to the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua. There's another volcano to hike, which is no walk in the park (because it's a freaking volcano). There are some fishermen to watch too, which is much more interesting than it sounds.
Constant mist in the cloud forest makes it feel a bit like a nightclub, but with less Katy Perry and more fresh air. Take the giant Sky Walk - a series of suspension bridges dangling 40m above the jungle.
Horse riding, whitewater rafting, riding the sky tram, zip-lining, mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, bungee jumping and swimming. If you get home and say you sat on your bum in La Fortuna you should be very ashamed.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
15 January 2014
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