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Single Female wanting to bus it through Central America ....

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1. Posted by leeann (Budding Member 17 posts) 10y

I am a single female and am likely to be going on a mexical mission as a translator at the begining of April 2006, after the mission I was thinking about travelling down trhough central America stopping here or there for a few nights then getting the next bus to a new place, and Finally making my way into South America. For the whole trip I will praobly have around two months so i can take my time. By then I "should" be fluent in spanish so that will make it a little easier to communicate with locals. i was wondering if there are any suggestions to safety, or certain places where I HAVE TO GO SEE. Or great safe places for females to stay the night along the way. Any suggests would be great.
Thanks
Lee Ann

2. Posted by leeann (Budding Member 17 posts) 10y

Sorry for my lack of ability to type, but I meant a medical mission not a mexical, and it will be in Guatamala, so thats where I want to start my journey. Also if anyone has addvice for taking the buses in Central America. I know there are good in Mexico, but I have not heard about Central America.

3. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 10y

Can't speak for Guatamela or Panama, but buses in Costa Rica are fine. The roads can be a bit dicey, which really just means you get a bumpy, dusty ride that takes a long time to cover a small distance.

I have meet many solo women travellers in Central and South America. If you keep an eye on your drinks (so no one ruffies them) and don't get too drunk, then you should be okay. Most women complain more about the fellow travellers looking for a holiday hook-up than any of the locals, it seems. If you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation, whether it is a bar or a hotel or just hanging around, just leave.

There is no bus service between Panama and South America due to the imprenitrable Darrien Gap. You will most likely need to fly if you want continue south to South America. Frankly, though, in two months you could probably have a great time just doing Guatamela, Costa Rica and Panama. I have found that the buses tire you out, and it's best to plan little to do on travel days.

Greg

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

I don't believe you will have any problem with the buses in Panama either. Most of the roads that the buses travel are paved - some still very bumpy and in poor repair, but passable. We were in Panama this past January and there was quite a bit of road construction. Nothing that will cause major detours, but possibly having to wait a bit for construction equipment to move out of the way. Buses do seem to run on some type of schedule, though I wouldn't rely on that. It was explained to us that you just chose a bus that has your destination written on the front windshield. If it says Panama - David, it means the bus travels from Panama City to David. (The size of the lettering depends on if they can get the word "City" on after the word "Panama".)

I would recommend making your travels during daylight hours - getting to your next destination before dark. You will find the Panamanian people friendly and helpful. Since you speak Spanish - you will have very little problem getting from place to place safely. As with everything - common sense and being aware of your surroundings is key.

Greg is correct about the Darien Gap area. It is jungle and not a safe place for any travel at this time. Plus, the "real" roads end prior to entering the Gap. If you want to continue southward - think about flying from Panama City to Cartegena in Colombia.

5. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

Arriving in Guatemala by air, take a taxi to your hotel with your documents and luggage if staying overnight in Guatemala City. If planning on staying in Antigua or Lake Atitlan (now recovering from Hurricane Stan's mudslides)contact me how to reserve a shuttle minibus (collective)$9.00 OW to Antigua as opposed to $45.00OW (28 miles or 45 km.) in taxi. If you have little luggage and wish to brave the terminal to Antigua, Downtown Guatemala City 5a Ave. y 18 Calle Zona 1, the chicken buses cost about 70 Cents US OW and leave every 15 min. 6AM-6PM (Generally buses do not run at night in Central America) From Antigua shuttle services to Lake Atitlan are $12.00 OW. The Bus (Rebuli) leaves Antigua to Lake Atitlan (Panajachel) at 7AM $4.00 OW comfortable but no wc. If based in one place, never carry the original of your passport, your credit/debit card or other valuables on short bus trips, just enough cash as you will require. The bus that will take you to El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica is modern with a/c, wc and video and allows unlimited stopovers. The third class or chicken buses generally run intercity and rural areas, some intercity buses in Central America are quite modern and fast such as the Galgos Guatemala City-Quetzaltenango (Xela) and the Litegua Guatemala City-Puerto Barrios and on the tourist route to Tikal ply the luxury buses that run all night to Flores, Tikal out of Guatemala City

6. Posted by jackboy (Inactive 350 posts) 10y

Hi
I did'nt speak and sponol only manyanna mon and had a great trip from Cancun;Mex throught all the CA countries by ordinary bus.
Travel www.ticabus.com and jump on 0700-0800 and jump off 1200-0100,4hrs max,dump your bag in hotel room and out siteseeing till you come back for a shower.
I met lots of single european chicas and you will have no problems on your trip.
Panama Canal,only visit in the afternoons as that when the big liners come through.
Have a great trip and enjoy your travels.
al de bes

7. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

Quoting jackboy

Panama Canal,only visit in the afternoons as that when the big liners come through.

I agree on this one. We arrived about 10:00am, wandered through the museum - which really is quite interesting - and at 11:00, it was announced a "ship" would be coming through. The ship was a small tugboat... The cruise ships and cargo ships pass through later in the day. It was still fun, but when you are expecting one of the oceanliners - a small tugboat... Well, you get the idea! ;)

8. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

If traveling from Cancun, Mexico best to take the Mexican Bus to Chetumal, the border town with Belize, where one can easily change Pesos into BZDollars (2-1US)and pick up Belizean Buses into Belize City and from there head out to Cay Caulker on the public boats, from Belize City, buses ply daily to Flores, Guatemala near Tikal(a full days trip with the congested border crossing), the grand Mayan Ruins not to be missed on any Central American Adventure. From Flores buses ply overnight to Guatemala City, where you will pick up the Tica Bus south to Panama www.ticabus.com If traveling high season especially December-January go to the Tica Bus offices and make reservations at least 72 hours in advance. In a pinch, the modern Hedman Alas Buses take you directly to majestic Copan Ruins in Honduras and from Copan on to San Pedro Sula, La Cieba (ferry services to the Bay Islands) and the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where again you may pick up the Tica Bus heading towards Managua, Nicaragua and south to CR and Panama. For more information on these and other transportation services view adverts on rtf file www.revuemag.com The Revue Magazine on line Guatemala-Belize-El Salvador-Honduras. Get a good up to date guidebook(s) and maps and read up before you depart.

9. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

Tica Bus
Guatemala City-San Salvador 5 hours one way. If planning to stay over a few days do not stay in Tica Bus Hotel San Carlos downtown San Salvador (fairly dangerous area, especially at night) there are many excellent guest houses and b and b's for budget travellers to base in around the National University Area/Bohemian Night Life District, San Luis, of San Salvador, view the El Salvador section www.revuemag.com San Salvador's western suburbs are actually quite pleasant compared to more congested Guatemala City.

San Salvador-Managua 10 hours one way. $7USD Cash only to enter Nicaragua visa usually given 90 days. Best head on to destination of Colonial Granada, only some 40 km. (25 miles) from the capital. Taxis are inexpensive in Nicaragua if loaded down with luggage you can negociate a taxi for about 450 cordoba ($27)or if your luggage is light take a taxi to the Granada minibus terminal at 'La UCA' University for about 15 cordoba a person then hop the bus for 10 cords pp..takes you right near the Central Park, taxis within Granada 6-7 cordoba per person anywhere daytime, double at night. Managua is spread out, rather dark at night as well as fairly dangerous after dark, so if going out at night in Managua, stick together and take taxis everywhere. Outside of the ever expanding capital city of Managua, Nicaragua is probably per capita the friendliest, safest and least inexpensive country in Central America.

Managua or Granada to San José 10 hours one way Tica Bus now stops in Granada enroute to Costa Rica..the border crossing of Peñas Blanca into CR is always a frenetic place and you'll pay $3.00US cash only to exit Nicaragua here, entry into CR is free. Costa Rica is far more expensive than it's neighbors to the north and the great attraction in CR is not culture (There is very little) but eco tourism, national parks, volcanoes and beaches..CR is full of travellers most of the year round. There is a bit of violent crime in San José, take taxis home there by night, and a lot of petty theft, etc. in tourist areas, be careful of your valuables here and do not be too open with strangers, even other travellers. In general CR is fairly clean, well ordered and well policed and the buses out of the San José terminals run on schedule, and one is required to buy a ticket before boarding, get a good country specific CR guidebook for schedules and destinations. Don't overstay your 90 day tourist visa or work for renumeration without a permit when in CR, the govt. is cracking down and if deported you cannot return for 10 years, everything is computerized in CR.

Finally, San José to Panama City 16 hours a day and a half one way. Pan American Highway via the western Panamanian city of David, in beautiful Chiriqui province near the El Boqueron national parks and a popular area for 'ex pats' now, many of whom have left Costa Rica in which residence has become very expensive. You may always stop in David and take some side trips to Boqueron, then continue to Panama city at your leisure...Panama city is described as "Little Miami" or "Little New York" and is very cosmopolitan, due to the Canal..there is much much more here in Panama to see other than the Canal..and remember destinations are more about people than churches, parks, ruins and towns.

10. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

Quoting dbloom

Finally, San José to Panama City 16 hours a day and a half one way. Pan American Highway via the western Panamanian city of David, in beautiful Chiriqui province near the El Boqueron national parks and a popular area for 'ex pats' now, many of whom have left Costa Rica in which residence has become very expensive. You may always stop in David and take some side trips to Boqueron, then continue to Panama city at your leisure...Panama city is described as "Little Miami" or "Little New York" and is very cosmopolitan, due to the Canal..there is much much more here in Panama to see other than the Canal..and remember destinations are more about people than churches, parks, ruins and towns.

If you want more Panamanian everyday culture than cultural artifacts - I recommend the little town of Sante Fe, also El Valle and San Francisco. Boquette is nice but it has become a haven for American ex-pats.