Looking for some suggested itineraries for planning a 4 or 6 week backpacking trip through Central America? Here’s an itineraries guide for Central America including all the popular Central America backpacking routes for budget travellers visiting Central America for 4 weeks or longer and everything you need to know before planning your Central America backpacking route.
CENTRAL AMERICA BACKPACKING ROUTES ITINERARIES GUIDE
In Central America you’ll soon learn that you can get from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific in under 10 hours which makes planning your itineraries and Central America backpacking route very exciting. You can cross through one country into the next in under 8 hours on a shuttle bus and explore jungle, volcanoes, beaches and more. Itineraries for your Central America trip are a key element to planning that’s why I’ve pulled together some suggested 4, 5 and 6 week itineraries for a backpacking trip to Central America.
Planning for your backpacking trip to Central America can be really easy due to the accessibility of the countries and the available transport options and routes. Here are some of the most popular and common backpacking routes through Central America for a 4 – 6 week budget trip to Central America. Looking for a budgeting guide to Central America?
OUR CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARY – CENTRAL AMERICA BACKPACKING ROUTE
We had a lot of time to spend in Central America, it worked out that we’d be backpacking through Central America for three months in total. I know that this isn’t always the case for others and that’s why I’ve based these itineraries around a 4 week Central America backpacking trip with 5 and 6 week options.
Our original plan for a Central American itinerary was one we put together a long time before leaving the UK. We spent many hours hunched over a Central America on a Shoestring Lonely Planet guide, writing on post-it-notes and highlighting great sounding locations and quirky hostels. We wanted to find the best route, to experience it all so that’s what our itinerary for Central America did, unpractical I should add.
|Palm Trees in Panama|
FLEXIBLE TRAVEL – CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARIES AND BACKPACKING ROUTES
Planning ahead for your trip is always good practice, but as many of us know this level of organisation and decisiveness often disappears as soon as you hit the road especially as a flexible backpacker. There’s something so unpractical about creating an itinerary before even seeing the country you’re about to visit, but it helps to have a rough outline of your Central America backpacking route.
The initial itinerary we had for our designated 3 months in Central America was long, unrealistic and left us no time really to just be anywhere. It soon changed once we left Mexico and found ourselves skipping Belize in favour of Guatemala.
BACKPACKING ROUTES CENTRAL AMERICA – CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARIES GUIDE
When it comes to getting around in Central America life is easy. I guess this is the main factor that impacts your itinerary and route so much when backpacking. There’s always a bus of friends leaving to another cool beach two hours away or a group travelling inland to take part in some volcano boarding – a Central American adventure.
Whether it’s a chicken bus you need to catch, a collectivo taxi or a backpacker filled shuttle bus, getting from one place to another in Central America is very easy. And thus, becomes the first problem for itineraries in Central America, everywhere is so accessible. You can be in El Salvador, at lunch time and Nicaragua by night fall. This makes for some very fun and indecisive travel.
Whether you think you have everything planned out for your 4 weeks in Central America or not I can guarantee you that everything will change once you’re on the road. I’m going to share with you some of the best recommended routes and most common routes for visiting Central America on a 4 week Central America backpacking trip, bearing in mind you can’t always go from place to place without a mini detour.
CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARIES GUIDE – 4 WEEKS TRAVEL
Backpacking Central America Route 1 – Belize, Guatemala, Honduras
Belize, Guatemala, Honduras – 4 week Central America itinerary
Belize City, Belize – Yellow
Caye Caulker, Belize – Blue
Semuc Champey, Guatemala – Purple
Optional – Lake Atitlan Guatemala.
Antigua, Guatemala – Pink
Copan Ruins, Honduras/Guatemala Border – Green
CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARIES GUIDE – 5 WEEKS TRAVEL
Backpacking Central America Route 2 – The Islands
Love diving? Then Central America’s Islands are perfect for you. Take 4/5 weeks for your backing Central America route and head from Lake Atitlan to Copan then straight to Caye Caulker for diving. Don’t forget to stop by The Bay Islands in Honduras for even more diving. Take this further by flying down to Little Corn Island, Nicaragua for some more world class diving spots.This is a fabulous and extremely common itinerary for divers and if you can incorporate the internal flight, you can easily spend the ideal 5 weeks on this Central America backpacking route.
The Central America Island Itinerary – 4/5 weeks
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – Green
Copan Ruins, Guatemala – Orange
Caye Caulker, Belize – Yellow
Roatan, The Bay Islands, Honduras – Pink
Utila, The Bay Islands, Honduras – Purple
Optional – Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
CENTRAL AMERICA ITINERARIES GUIDE – 6 WEEKS TRAVEL
Backpacking Central America Route 3 – Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama
How about a Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama 2 week Central America backpacking itinerary? Three incredibly diverse countries with more wildlife than I could name. From Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur, cloud forests in Monteverde to island hopping in Bocas del Toro in Panama. Take your time travelling through Costa Rica to see some of the rainforest and wildlife with this 4 – 6 week Central America itinerary. This is one of the more common Central America backpacking routes and often travellers do this route in reverse from Panama up.
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama – 6 weeks Central America itinerary
Granada, Nicaragua – Yellow
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua – Purple
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – Pink
Monteverde, Costa Rica – Green
San José, Costa Rica – Orange
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – Blue
Bocas del Toro, Panama – Brown
Optional – Panama City, Panama
|Views of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala|
OVERLAND BORDER CROSSING GUIDE FOR CENTRAL AMERICA
Costa Rica to Panama as mentioned was the only time we found ourselves forking out to pay to get across the ‘closing’ border. A footbridge and rail bridge you have to walk across to exit Costa Rica and arrive in Panama.
From our experience of backpacking Central America border crossings are easier in large groups and on organised shuttle busses. Most nationalities get a 90 day visa on arrival but double check because I know certain countries give certain nationalities a harder time. El Salvador in particular was very interested in anyone with an Israeli passport. Do a little research or ask at the hostel you are leaving.
Border crossings during the day in Central America can get busy and you can get lost in the masses of money exchangers that are always found at border crossings in the region – they can be quite handy at times too!
BACKPACKING CENTRAL AMERICA ROUTES AND ITINERARIES GUIDE
Now, I don’t want to say it’s the perfect place for a backpacking trip or a first time backpacking trip but it probably is. Border crossings can be a breeze providing you do a little research and group travel is something that just kind of happens. Whether you’re doing a 4 week itinerary or 5 a month trip, enjoy the accessibility and ease of travelling in such an incredibly diverse area of the world.
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A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.