Planning to backpack from Mexico city to Honduras in feb, but only got 30 days to it in. First time in Central America - was wondering if anyone had done a similiar trip before and could offer any advice on how realistc this is and also any suggestions for an itinery would be most welcome.
You could most certainly do it in 30 days without being too rushed, depending on where you were ultimately headed in Honduras. I did it numerous times in the late 80s.
As great as Mexico City is given the pollution (arguably the most polluted city in the world) you must spend 3-4 days in the city and surrounding area just to cover the basic sites (National Palace w/ Diego Rivera murals covering the history of Mexico, Anthropology Museum, Chapultepec Park, Templo Mayor, Zocalo, Tlateloco, Plaza Garibaldi, Tula, and Tenochtitlan). I know it sounds like alot, but can all be covered in 3-4 days without feeling rushed.
I will just throw out the names of some of my favorite places without going into along diatribe about each, you can research the details. Heading south, Cuernavaca is a great, close escape from the DF, as is close by Taxco and Puebla. I would recommend to not miss Oaxaca (8 hrs by bus from DF) and the ruins of Monte Alban. Zipolite, just out from Puerto Angel on the coast south of Oaxaca is a great place to lounge in a hammock for a few days. Heading back east across the isthmus of Tehuantepec make sure you drop in on San Cristobal de Las Casas. It is an interesting, mostly indigenous area in the Chiapas highlands. From there it is a quick trip over to see the ruins at Palenque (one of my top two favorites in all of Mexico along with Bonampak).
After Palenque, you have a couple of options. First, either head northeast into the Yucatan and hit Merida and close by ruins (Uxmal, Chichen Itza) and make your way along north coast of Yucatan (I am particularly fond of Isla Holbox) before heading down coast toward Belize. Avoid Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Cozumel. Too much package tourism. The ruins of Tulum along the caost are spectacular, but be prepared for a massive crush of package tourists stumbling around in the heat and complaining.
Conversely, you can make your way to Tenosique and travel down the Rio Usumacinta to Bonampak and Yaxchilan and the over to Santa Elena (Tikal area), or catch a small boat thaTt takes you down the Rio San Pedro through the jungle over to Naranjo, Guatemala, then by bus to Santa Elena. Make sure you check with other travellers before undertaking this to make sure this is still available as I last did it in 1994. Double check the visa situation for crossing via Rio San Pedro to Narajo. Be prepared to pay a small bribe (called La Mordida - "the bite") to the border guard if necessary. I ususally don't condone bribing, but if you are stuck in Narajo it may be necessary. The only way back into Mexico is the way you came back up river (8 hours).
As I have rambled on more than I had planned, I will cut this short now and try to cover Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras later.
Good luck with planning.
The earlier response covered things pretty well. I would add that the crossing from Mexico to Guatemala is less complicated via Palenque-Frontera Corozal-Bethel-Flores. You could even arrange it in Palenque if you were willing to skip Bonampak and Yaxchilan.
However, if you want to see those sites, see http://www.mostlymaya.com/howto/Palenque-Flores.html
Cheers for that detailed account. A Lot to research there!
Don't leave out El Salvador, many travelers on a limited time schedule decide to just skip El Salvador. I have been living here for the past 13 years and feel that it is really worth the effort. The best thing about El Salvador is by far it's people, they are very friendly, out going and open, the second best factor is that you rarely be overwhelmed by other tourist like in some parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Check out these sites of mine, I started the first one this year as a hobby to help promote tourism here -snip-. My other site I statred maybe 3 years ago as a menber of a local tourism association -snip- and if you want to see a little about what I do working for a small Quaker meeting in Palo Alto California as the field director for El Salvador Projects see -snip-.
Anyway have a great trip and if you want more information about El Salvador feel free to write
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Hi there rpbroz,
Ill have to consider visiting El Salvador - it sounds fantastic, but my biggest constraint is time. Can you tell me how difficult it is to travel in central America? For example, roughly how long would it take by bus or train to travel from say Cancun to San Salvador, or Cancun to Tegucigalpa? If you know any approximate prices id be most grateful.
Ive had a look at some guidebooks, but they dont seem to be much help.