Trip 5: South & Central America 2016-17

South & Central America

14th September 2016 to 26th May 2017

For a full trip summary and breakdown of our costs see blog entry:


Key to place markers:

We left the UK on Wednesday 14th September, initially for a week in Spain (see blog link: Spain blog), then flying to Cusco in Peru on 21st September to take a five week Spanish language course (see blog links: Peru blog 1, Peru blog 2, Peru blog 3, Peru blog 4, Ollantaytambo & Sacred Valley blog, Machu Picchu blog, Peru blog 5, Peru blog 6). We left Cusco on 30th October on the Peruhop night bus to Lima, stopping at Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina (Ica) and Paracas (see blog links: Peru blog 7Peru blog 8).

On 8th November we took a flight to Santiago in Chile for one night and then flew south again to Punta Arenas in Patagonia, where we stayed for 3 days (see blog link: Chile blog 1). From there we took an 11 hour bus journey to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world and hiked along the Beagle Channel for a day (see blog link: Ushuaia blog). Next we took a 14 hour bus journey to Rio Gallegos in Argentina for 1 night and then on to El Calafate for 3 nights (see blog link: El Calafate blog). After a 3 hour bus ride to El Chalten we had 4 nights and 3 days hiking in the Fitz Roy mountains (see blog link: El Chalten blog), returned to Chile to Puerto Natales for 3 nights and then back to Punta Arenas for 5 nights while we waited for our booked night in Torres del Paine NP (see blog link: Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas blog).

We returned to Puerto Natales, trekked in the TDP park, staying 1 night in a refuge (see blog link: Torres del Paine blog), returned again to Punta Arenas and flew north to Santiago on 5th December for 2 nights (see blog link: Santiago blog).

We flew north to Lima for two nights on 7th December, to Mexico City for one night on 9th December and then a one hour 20 minute bus ride south to Tepoztlan on 10th December where we did a housesitting assignment looking after three dogs, Maty, Luna and Cookie for six weeks (see blog entries: Tepoztlan blog 1Tepoztlan blog 2Tepoztlan blog 3Tepoztlan blog 4Tepoztlan blog 5, Tepoztlan blog 6). On 22nd January we went north to Mexico City,  visited the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan and on to San Miguel de Allende for a bit of sightseeing see blog link: Teotihuacan & San Miguel de Allende blog). We returned again to Tepoztlan for a further 11 days of housitting and, on 7th February finally left to continue our travels (see blog link: Tepoztlan blog 7).

Our first stop was a flight and an overnight in Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico, followed by a bus ride to Valladolid for a visit to Chichen Itza (see blog link: Valladolid and Chichen Itza blog). We travelled overland to Merida to visit the Mayan ruins of Uxmal, Kabah, Mayopan and Dzibilchichen and 4 cenotes (see blog link: Merida blog). After returning to Cancun for three nights we travelled south stopping in Tulum for three nights and then on into Belize (see blog links: Cancun blogTulum blogMexico/Belize border crossing blog, Thoughts on Mexico blog).

We had one night in Corozal, then took the express water taxi to San Pedro and onto Caye Caulker in the Caribbean sea for four nights in a tropical paradise (22nd to 25th February) (see blog links: Caye Caulker blog). On 25th February we took the Belize express water taxi to Belize City then the bus on to the western Belize jungle on San Ignacio for two night (see blog link: San Ignacio blog).

On 28th February we entered Guatemala and spent three nights on Flores (see blog link: Flores blog), then travelling to the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal, back to El Remate (see blog link: Tikal blog) then the night bus to Antigua for a 1 week housesitting assignment, looking after three cats (see blog link: Antigua blog). After another 6 days at Lago Atitlan (Panajachel and San Pedro) (see blog link: Atitlan blog) and a final night by Guatemala City airport we flew to Costa Rica, staying one night in Alajuela then on to Tortuguera for 4 nights (see blog link: Guatemala to Costa Rica blog).

We took a fast boat to Moin and a shared taxi to Puerto Vieja de Talamanca to stay for 3 nights (see blog link: Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca blog). We then travelled overland into Panama, had 5 nights in Bocas del Toro (see blog link: Bocas del Toro blog), 5 nights in the highlands of Boquete and Cerro Punta (see blog link: Boquete blog), 1 night in David and 7 nights in Panama City (see blog link: Panama City) before flying to Managua, Nicaragua and straight out to Granada (see blog link: Granada blog) for 3 nights.

We went south to stay on Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua for 5 nights (see blog link: Isla de Ometepe blog) and then travelled overland back to Costa Rica for one night stays at Liberia and Nicoya and then to Jicaral for an 8 day housesit for two dogs and two cats (see blog links: Liberia, Nicoya, Jicaral blog; Jicaral blog).

After a final night in Puerto Limon we boarded the cruise ship Pullmantur Monarch on 9th May for a 16 day cruise back to Lisbon in Portugal, stopping at 5 ports on the way (see blog links: Cruising - Days-236 to 242, Cruising Days - 243 to 254), followed by a flight back to Birmingham, UK, arriving back home on 26th May (see nlog link: Lisbon and home - days 255 to 256. I never thought I'd be tempted onto a cruise, but relocation cruises are cheap, no more expensive than flying when taking into account 16 days of accommodation and all food and alcohol included and is a good excuse to return home in relative luxury!

Our journey (Latest first):
  • Portugal
  1. 25th May, arrive Lisbon Portugal for 1 night stay on cruise ship
  2. 26th May, depart the country on flight home to Birmingham UK 

  • Cruise, Costa Rica to Portugal
  1. 9th May, board cruise ship at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
  2. 10th May, arrive Colon, Panama
  3. 11th May, arrive Cartagena, Columbia
  4. 14th May, arrive Saint Maarten, Caribbean: Cruising - Days 236 to 242
  5. 15th May, arrive Antigua, Caribbean
  6.  23rd May, arrive Madeira
  7. 25th May, arrive Lisbon Portugal: Cruising - Days 243 to 254
  8. 26th May, arrive Birmingham UK on flight from Lisbon: Lisbon and home - Days 255 to 256 
  • Costa Rica (second visit)
  1. 27th April, arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica for one night stay on Tica bus (luxury bus) from the border
  2. 28th April, arrived in Nicoya, Nicoya Peninsular for one night stay on public bus: Liberia, Nicoya, Jicaral blog
  3. 29th April, arrived in Jicaral, Nicoya Peninsular for 8 night housesit for two dogs and two cats on public bus: Jicaral blog
  4. 7th May, stayed one more night in Jicaral at a cabana, then travelled to Puerto Limon for one night stay
  5. 9th May, boarded cruise ship for 16 day journey to Lisbon, Portugal
  • Nicaragua
  1. 19th April, arrived in Granada, Nicaragua on flight from Panama City to Managua and then hotel bus to Granada for three nights stay: Granada blog
  2. 22nd April, arrived in Myogalpa, Isla de Ometepe for three night stay on shuttle bus and boat, then travelled by taxi to Santa Cruz for one night and got free lift back to Moyogalpa for our last night
  3. 27th April, left the country by taking a boat and taxi to the Costa Rican border
  •  Panama
  1. 31st March. Arrived in Bocas del Toro, Panama for 5 nights after taking a bus from the Costa Rican border and boat to the main island: Bocas del Toro blog
  2. 5th April, arrived in Boquete for a 1 night stay after taking a boat and shuttle bus, then took two busses to Cerro Punta for a one night stay and walked back over the mountain to Boquete for a further three nights stay: Boquete and Cerro Punta blog
  3. 11th April, arrived in David for a one night stay after taking the local bus, then took an eight hour bus to Panama City for a seven night stay: Panama City blog 
  4. 19th April, left the country on a flight from Panama City to Managua, Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica 
  1. 23rd March, arrived in Alajuela, Costa Rica for a one night stay after a flight from Guatemala City to San Jose, Costa Rica and a taxi to Alajuela: Guatemala to Costa Rica blog  
  2. 24th March, arrived in Tortuguera for 4 nights stay after taxi to San Jose, 2 buses and 1 boat ride: Tortuguera to Puerto Viejo de Telamanca blog
  3. 28th March, arrived in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for 3 night stay after fast boat to Moin and taxi to hostel
  4. 31st March, bus to border with Panama, cross border on foot 

  • Guatemala: 
  1. 28th February, arrived in Flores for a three night stay after taking a 'collectivo' minibus from the border: Flores blog
  2. 3rd March, arrived in Tikal for 1 night stay on a collectivo minibus, then travelled back to El Remate after visiting the ruins via another collectivo for a 2 night stay: Tikal blog
  3. 6th Mach, arrived back in Flores on yet another collectivo minibus and, caught the night bus and shuttle to Antigua in south Guatemala
  4. 7th March, arrived in Antigua for 8 day housesit with three cats: Antigua blog
  5. 16th March, arrived in Panajachel, Lago Atitlan by shuttle bus for 2 nights, transferred to San Pedro la Laguna by water taxi for three nights then returned to Panajachel for 1 more night and to collect luggage
  6. 22nd Mach, arrived at Guatemala City airport by shuttle bus for 1 night stay
  7. 23rd March, flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
  •  Belize:
  1. 21st February, arrivel in Corozal for an overnight stay then travelled on to Caye Caulker via San Pedro on the Thunderbolt water taxi and Belize Express water taxi for four nights in a tropical paradise: Caye Caulker blog
  2. 26th February,arrived in San Ignacio for a two night stay after taking a water taxi to Belize City and 'chicken bus' to San Ignacio: San Ignacio blog
  3. 28th February, exited Belize at the border close to Benque and walked into Guatemala across the bridge
  • Mexico:
  1. 9th December, arrived in Mexico City on 6.5 hour flight for 1 night stay in Mexico City
  2. 10th December, arrived in Tepoztlan on 1 hour 20 minute bus journey south of Mexico City for 6 week hosesitting, looking after 3 dogs, Maty, Luna & Cookie: Tepoztlan 1; Tepoztlan 2; Tepoztlan 3Tepoztlan 4Tepoztlan 5Tepoztlan 6Tepoztlan 7
  3.  22nd January, stayed in Mexico City historical centre for 3 nights, taking a guided day trip to the ancient Mesoamerican city Teotihuacan and a guided free tour of Mexico City
  4. 25th January, arrived in San Miguel de Allende on 3 hour 30min bus journey for 2 nights: Mexico 1
  5. 27th January, returned to Tepoztlan for a further 11 days housesitting: Tepoztlan 8
  6. 7th February, arrived in Cancun, Yucatan peninsular on a flight from Mexico City for an overnight, followed by a bus ride to Valladolid for Chichen Itza and Ek Balam Mayan ruins: Cancun, Valladolid, Chichen Itza blog
  7. 11th February, arrived in Merida by bus for four nights stay and visits to Uxmal, Kabal, Mayapan and Dzibilichalten Mayan ruins, swimming in 5 cenotes and coastal resort of Progreso: Merida blog 
  8. 15th February, returned to Cancun for three nights: Cancun blog 
  9. 18th February, south by bus to Tulum for three nights for Tulum Mayan ruins and Dos Ojos cenotes snorkel: Tulum blog 
  10. 21st February, finally left Mexico to travel overland into Belize to Corozal: Mexico/Belize border crossing blog 

  • Peru (second visit):
  1. 7th December, arrived in Lima on 2 hour flight for 2 night stay in Airbnb private room: Santiago & Lima

  •    Chile (second visit):
  1. Brief visit on 15th November en route to Rio Gallagos from Ushuaia, but straight back into Argentina again
  2. 23rd November arrived in Puerto Natales on 3 hour and 5 hour buses from El Chalten to El Calafate and El Calafate to Puerto Natales with 2.5 hour break in El Calafate.
  3. 3 nights in Puerto Natales at El Sendero Hostel, but no visit to Torres del Paine as overnight in park booked for 2nd December: Puerto Natales & Punta Arenas
  4. 26th November arrived in Punta Arenas on 3 hour bus at Hernaldo's Airbnb room for 5 nights
  5. 1st December arrived back in Puerto Natales at El Sendero Hostel for 1 night, followed by our 2 day, 1 night trip into Torres del Paine National Park. Returned to El Sendero and then to Punta Arenas for 1 night: Torres del Paine 
  6. 5th December arrived in Santiago on 3.5 hour flight for 2 night stay in Airbnb private room: Santiago & Lima

  • Argentina:
  1. 12th November 2016: Arrive Ushuaia, Argentina on bus, 11 hours. Stayed in Airbnb private room for 3 nights
  2. 15th November 2016: Arrive in Rio Gallagos for unscheduled stop for the night due to strike by Chile border guards and high winds that stopped the Magellan Strait ferry: Ushuaia & Rio Gallegos
  3. 16th November 2016: Arrive in El Calafate for 3 night stay. Trip to Perito Moreno Glacier: El Calafate
  4. 19th November 2016: Arrive in El Chalten for 4 night stay on 3 hour bus journey. 3 hikes in fitz Roy National Park to Laguna de Los Tres, Laguna Torres and Laguna Capri, Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado: El Chalten

  •  Chile:
  1. 8th November 2016: Arrive Santiago, Chile from Lima, Peru. 3.5hr flight, +2 hour time difference. Stayed in Airbnb private room for 1 night
  2. 9th November 2016: Arrive Punta Arenas, Chile with brief stopover in Puerto Montt. 4.5 hours in total.
  3. Stayed in Airbnb private room in Punta Arenas for 3 nights: Santiago & Punta Arenas
  • Peru:
  1.  22nd September 2016: Arrive Cusco, Peru from Alicante, Spain with stopover in Madrid, Spain and Lima, Peru. 1hr flight, 2.5hr wait, 12hr flight, 3hr wait, 1 hr flight. Time difference Spain to Peru: -7hr
  2. Stayed in Hatun Quilla Hostal in the historic centre of Cusco for 3 nights to acclimatize (Cusco is at 3300m altitude) and sightsee: Cusco 1; Cusco 2
  3. Moved to Maribel homestay by Cusco airport for five weeks of Spanish lanuage
    course: Cusco 3; Cusco 4; Cusco 5;
    Cusco 6; Cusco 7; Cusco 8
  4. Departed Cusco for 9 day tour to Lima via Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina (Ica) and Paracas: Nazca, Huacachina, Paracas, Lima

  •  Costa Blanca, Spain:
  1. 14th September 2016: Arrive Alicante, Spain from Birmingham UK
  2. Stayed with Richard (Jackie's dad) and Elizabeth in their house in Altea-la-Vella for one week, relaxing and catching up with friends: Costa Blanca 1
  3. 21st September 2016: Flight to Cuzco in Peru with stoppovers in Madrid, Spain and Lima, Peru

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