A friend and I want to go backpacking through Central America for a month or two. As a first time traveler of this caliber, I have no idea where to start or how to go about planning. We want to go sometime in January. I was thinking of starting in Costa Rica and going up toward Belize. As recent college grads our funds are extremely limited. Realistically, how much would a trip like this cost? Also, what the cheapest/easiest way to travel from country to country? Any info/advice would be great!
Can't help with the rest of CA but in El Salvador the local busses is what everybody uses, if you get behind schedule and need to get from one country to another quickly there are 2 companies TicaBus and PuertoBus/King Quality, the rates run between $40-$100 depending on where you are and where you want to go, they run between Panama and Guatemala. What ever you do don't skip El Salvador, although the smallest country most travellers enjoy it beacuse of the lack of other travelers. I live in colonial Suchitoto.
If you want more information about El Salvador feel free to drop me a note using the contact on my profile, otherwise have a great trip.
Robert Broz Moran
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
You'll find cheap hostels in all countries (check hostelworld.com) and if you take the bus from country to country you'll save a lot of time.
Most money may go to some tours you cannot do on your own and the night life. It's pretty good in Costa Rica in particular.
By the way, you may consider starting your trip in Panama .
You'll find Costa Rica quite a lot more expensive than other Central American countries. Getting around is generally quite cheap - ticabus are good for intercity journeys, local trips on 'chicken buses' will set you back next to nothing. I would budget around $15 a night for accomodation though you can find it for less in most places, food and drink are generally pretty cheap too.
As for planning, i would suggest getting a decent central american guidebook (theres a LP one called central america on a shoestring which is good) and working out what you really want to see. Despite the relatively small distances it can take a while to get to places, esp if they are a little off the beaten track. I would recommend Utila in the Bay Islands (Honduras). Costa Rica feels a bit more American than other countries in CA and San Jose is a nice place to start. (Organised trips into the costa rican rainforest etc are quite expensive - when i went in 2006 they were around $120 for a daytrip) Antigua Guatemala would be a good stop too.
Also, do you speak Spanish? learning a few words would definitely help!
Let me know if you need any more help!
Thanks for all the info! I just bought Central America on a shoestring so hopefully that will really help me out!
I back the King Quality vouch...and Tica Bus is great....
Listen, though....Don't live your life by the guidebook.
The "Backpacker Highway" is well mapped out...They are all directing you toward it.....You will be fine