Maya: Away from Crowds
Central America is home to many secret treasures for tourists who like to avoid the crowds, including numerous ancient Maya settlements.
The seven countries of Central America—Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica—are full of natural beauty and cultural treasures. Many of the region’s nature reserves, ancient Maya settlements and colonial cities have been declared world cultural heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
There are lots of volcanoes and an exotic animal kingdom to explore, yet few people outside the region know of them. The view into the crater of the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua is a breathtaking experience, enlivened by the accompanying strong smell of sulphur and the loud screaming of parrots. Yet the car park on the edge of the crater is nearly empty. This is a boon for daring travelers who can enjoy all the beauty without having to share it with hordes of others visitors.
El Salvador has a “road of flowers” and Nicaragua has a “road of white villages” connecting villages from the colonial period. Honduras is developing a means of connecting the native American communities in the Atlantic coast from the Garifuna, descendents of the Carribean Indians and Africans, to the Miskito Indians in the jungle.
Geological enthusiasts could also follow a volcanic trail through Central America. There are many volcanoes in just a small area, some with perfectly cone-shaped peaks constantly emitting smoke from their craters. Some of them are partially accessible.
A bus travels to the edge of the Masaya craters in Nicaragua, an active volcano just 500 meters high. For safety reasons, every traveler should get local information from the local tourism authority before climbing a volcano.
The Arenal Volcano in northern Costa Rica terrified local inhabitants and tourists in August 2000 when it spouted hot gas and ash.
Individual travelers can easily find travel information. The long distance buses that connect all the countries in the region are very comfortable with air conditioning and TV.
And if you travel through the villages in small, local rundown buses, you will swiftly come into close contact with local inhabitants and their animals. You are just as likely to have a hen thrust into your lap as a small child.