group of friends and i have organised a trip for the end of this year. we fly into guatemala and fly out of san jose, costa rica to continue onto lima, peru and so on. we want to experience central america but only have limited time to do it!!
my questions are-
1. how long do you think it will take us to travel from guat. to san jose?
2. what is the public transport like?
3. due to their being 4 of us would it be beneficial to hire a car?
4. What are the not to be missed attractions/experiences?
No point hiring a car as bus transportation is cheap enough.
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If you have the time overland travel in CA is really easy. I know that from CR to Nicaragua you're looking at about a 10 dollar ticket plus the border taxes, which will vary depending on which way you're going. I think its about 3 bucks to leave Nicaragua. Anyway from Guat. you should take a TicaBus. (www.ticabus.com) They're a good company, your bags will be safely checked only by employees and you get a reciept for it and the bus has AC and DVD movies. Its probably in the area of 25 to 30 dollars to get all the way to CR. But you should really stop along the way. Visit Lago Nicaragua and Ometepe, oh and Tikal for sure and really enjoy Nic., El Salvadore and Guatamala as they are less touristy than Costa Rica. Oh yeah and your question, sorry got off topic...if you travel non-stop to San Jose its probably around 2 1/2 days, you'll have to stop a couple of time since the bus drivers try to avoid overnight travel, especially through the north of Nic. Well hope that helps.
The ticabuses leave Guatemala City terminal in Zone 9 for San Salvador at 1PM arriving after 5PM at The Hotel San Carlos in the Centro (Downtown) Area which is seedy and pretty dangerous after dark, the best budget digs are in and around the National University area which boasts clubs like Casa de Arte "La Luna" in a Bohemian District, the Beaches are about 1.5 hours in Public Bus 102 (La libertad) with budget hotels and surfers galore, then at 5AM the buses ply to Nicaragua, best to take the expreso bus at "LA UCA" University on to Masaya, an Arts and Crafts Town which is only 7 miles from Colonial Granada situated on shores of Lake Nicaragua, Managua is seedy in parts and spread out, bit dangerous at night, and must be navigated even by day in taxi (which are collective and cheap). I know budget haunts, guides whatever all along the route. In Guatemala best to visit Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango Indian Market and Xela (Quetzaltenanago). Guatemala city now 3.5 million plus in metro area and again the downtown (Zone 1) budget hotel district seedy and dangerous by night.
If going straight through Day 1 Guatemala-El Salvador 4-5 hours stay overnight.
Day 2 El Salvador-Nicaragua 10-11 hours stay overnight
Day 3 Nicaragua-San Jose Costa Rica 10-11 hours