Guides to Central America

Though some nations in this wandering isthmus of jungle-clad land connecting North America and South America still struggle with outlaws and drug-runners, many of the countries are safe, cleaned up, and ready to welcome visitors to unspoiled rainforests, pristine beaches, and festive Latino cities.

Costa Rica is the queen of ecotourism, with one-third of its landmass protected as National Park. You can ride a horse from a cloud forest preserve to an active volcano, soak in a hot spring, then thrash the white water of a jungle river to watch sea turtles spawn on the beaches—or just veg on the beach at a west coast resort. Full Story

Belize's southern half of the Yucatan Peninsula shore suffers little of the Cancún-like development glut that plagues the Mexican side of the border. Jaguars and Mayan ruins rule the jungles while the Northern Hemisphere biggest barrier reef offshore begs you to bring snorkel gear (Ambergris Caye is the resort island, Caye Caulker the laid-back village island, Tobacco Caye the secret hideaway). Full Story

Panama is more than just straw hats, cigars, and a canal; there are 1,786 miles of undiscovered coastline and, less than 20 jungly miles from the colonial mansion and skyscrapers of Panama City, you can be in an Indian village where they still hunt with blowguns. Full Story

The ancient Mayan temples of Tikal poking above the jungle canopy of Guatemala receive only a fraction of the crowds as their Mexican cousins, making for a far more Indiana-Jones experience.

Stay: $50 at the Posada de Santiago ( on Guatemala's Lake Atitlan; $90 at Los Establos (, a luxury B&B on a coffee plantation in the Panamanian mountain town of Boquete.

Dine: $2-$3 at a Guatemalan comedores; $5-$20 at a Costa Rica beach resort.

Package: $449 for air and five nights in Panama, including city tours (800-243-7227, $799 for air to Costa Rica, rental car, and 7 nights—2 in San Jose, 5 near Manuel Antonio National Park (800-493-8426,


Costa Rica



Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.