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Central American Charm Rainforests & Ruins

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Cartagena
  • La Fortuna
  • Granada
  • Flores
  • Antigua
  • Mexico City

17 Days Exploration
  • Departing:
  • 29 Apr 2025 New release

Embrace these authentic Central American adventures during our carefully crafted journey. From the ingenuity of the Maya to the jungles and rainforests of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. And discover the striking colonial streetscapes of Granada and Antigua. Our rare immersion also takes in colourful Cartagena and the metropolis of Mexico City. Reserved for just 30 guests, everything has been considered and included, with a wealth of optional experiences to tailor your journey to your interests.

Map
Colonial Cities
Colonial Cities

Famed Facades & Colourful Culture

Our explorations of Latin America’s charming cities reveal a succession of vibrantly coloured buildings, grand cathedrals, and awe-inspiring landscapes. Cartagena dazzles the eye with its abundance of vivid balconies adorned with flowers and cascading vines. While Antigua’s looming volcanoes contrast with its landmark yellow arch.

Your World Experiences
Your World Experiences

The Spirit of Chichicastenango

Arrive by helicopter in the captivating town of Chichicastenango in south-western Guatemala. Browse the wares of local markets. Attend an authentic shaman ritual. Marvel at the cemetery’s brightly coloured tombstones. Meet local artisans. And dine along the shores of tranquil Lake Atitlan.

Bird
Volcano

Breathtaking Expressions of Nature

Nature’s gifts are in abundance in this part of the world. Admire the flowing waterfall of Costa Rica’s La Fortuna. In the cloud forests of Nicaragua, seek out a profusion of reptiles and plentiful birdlife. In Costa Rica and Guatemala, set out on hikes to see their soaring volcanoes.

Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Balloon

A Testament to the Ancients at Teotihuacán

Soar over the valley of Teotihuacán at sunrise aboard a hot air balloon. Gaze in awe and wonder as you pass over the ancient structures, the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. These archaeological marvels stand proud on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Ancient Ruins
Ancient Ruins

Look Upon Monuments of the Maya

Walk in the footsteps of the ancient Maya at several significant sites. The archaeological site of Uaxactun tells tales of conflict and suppression. While the jungle ruins of nearby Tikal echo the fortunes of the victor.

Itinerary

We begin our journey in the colourful city of Cartagena, with three nights at the striking Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening and get to know your fellow travellers and Tour Host Team.

After breakfast, we take a walking tour of the city. Vibrantly coloured buildings line Cartagena’s streets, and a network of alleyways lead to unassuming public squares and balconies brimming with verdant vines. 

Following lunch, you may choose to take your afternoon at leisure, or join us for another guided tour of the city’s historic sites. Beginning at Convento de la Popa, enjoy spectacular views from the city’s highest vantage point. Built by Augustinian monks, the convent began its life as a modest wooden chapel, before being remodelled as the prominent hilltop structure it presents as today. At Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, we stand before a grand fortress featuring a complex of small forts and a battery of cannons. A short distance away, the arresting yellow exterior of Las Bóvedas stands proud on the edge of the Caribbean. Its archways house 23 vaults once used as munitions storerooms and jail cells. Today, it serves as a craft market, offering colourful Colombian keepsakes. Our tour concludes at Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, a former convent. 

This evening, select from the city’s many fine establishments for dinner, or dine within our hotel.

After breakfast, take the opportunity to familiarise yourself with traditional Colombian cuisine during a cooking class. Our host takes us through the steps required to produce Colombian pastries, including Carimañolas and Arepa de Huevo, as well as a hearty main course. You may prefer to take the morning at leisure, relaxing at our hotel or heading out on explorations of your own. 

After lunch, a choice of Your World experiences offers a closer look at Colombian culture:

— Pay a visit to a local restaurant to enjoy a tasting of Colombian rum and chocolate. A mini welcome cocktail sets the scene, before you are invited to mix, sip and shoot a range of rum and rum-infused cocktails, paired with Colombia’s finest chocolate. Learn the history of rum, as well as the finer points of the distillation process. 

— Participate in a photography workshop within the Centro Histórico neighbourhood. Tailored to your current level of photography skills, this workshop will equip you with the knowledge necessary to aptly capture the architecture, fashion and landscapes of this intriguing part of Cartagena.

Alternatively, take the afternoon on your own schedule, before enjoying a final evening at the luxurious Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena.

Enjoy a final breakfast in Cartagena, before we transfer to the airport. After lunch, we fly across the waters of the Caribbean Sea, on our way to Costa Rica. Arriving in the capital, San José, we soon take a northerly drive through the heart of the country to idyllic La Fortuna. Here, we find the tranquil setting of our accommodation, Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Take in unimpeded views of the tropical surroundings beyond your Orchid Room. Nearby, looms the Arenal Volcano.

Fuel up for the day’s adventures with breakfast at our resort. This morning, negotiate the hanging bridges clearing the way for our jungle traverse. Peer across the assembled treetops for thrilling, verdant views during our looping trail that crosses multiple bridges. Keep watch for monkeys, birdlife, and lizard species along the way. Soon, we come to La Fortuna Waterfall. Navigate 530 steps to the bottom of the falls for the mesmerising sight of its waters plummeting into a small pool. Surrounded by moss-covered rocks and flourishing jungle, we pause to absorb these inspiring scenes. We share our experiences of the morning over lunch at a local restaurant.    

This afternoon, choose from the following Your World experiences:

— Join a half-day hike through Arenal Volcano National Park, wandering across sweeping savannahs and through flourishing rainforest. Your guide will also explain aspects of the volcanic topography as you gaze upon the lofty Arenal Volcano. 

— Let the staff at our resort’s spa work their magic during a revitalising massage treatment. 

— Enjoy the serene setting of the private thermal river and hot springs, reserved for the exclusive use of the resort’s guests. 

This evening, we enjoy an authentic, hands-on culinary experience with a local family.

Today, we cross the border into Nicaragua, pausing for lunch en route to our eventual destination, Granada. Here, we find our boutique accommodation, Hotel Plaza Colón. After settling in, we head out to discover the city at night. Following a delicious dinner of local cuisine, followed by a rum tasting, we adjourn to the dance floor for a spot of salsa dancing.

Our explorations of Granada begin as we discover the 16th-century Iglesia de la Merced. Climb the steps of the church to its bell tower for sweeping views across the city, and beyond, to the Mombacho Volcano. A brief drive then brings us to Lake Nicaragua, where we embark a boat for a cruise to the small islands formed by the volcano’s eruptions. 

This afternoon, be met with a colourful array of clothing, hammocks, piñatas, and other handcrafted goods, during a visit to one of the area’s artisans’ markets. Afterwards, discover the notorious dungeon built beneath Coyotepe Fortress, originally built to protect the city from a North American invasion. Nearby, the interior of the small volcano, Masaya, glows red. Choose to hike or drive to the volcano’s peak, as a setting sun brings further radiance to the simmering lava below. Should you be able to tear your eyes from this transfixing sight, you may spy parakeets and bats returning to their nightly nesting places within the crater. You’re also free to enjoy your afternoon as you please. Our hotel hosts us for dinner again this evening.

A choice of morning and afternoon Your World experiences allows you to structure your day to your liking:

— Head to the thriving jungle of Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve this morning. A 4x4 vehicle will then escort you through the park to arrive at Lake Nicaragua. Lead by a local guide, you will set out on a trek from here, through the park’s atmospheric cloud forest. Observe the occasional emission of steam and gases from volcanic vents and search for the region’s wildlife, including mammals, birdlife and reptiles. 

— This afternoon, a ‘Beans-to-Bar’ workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Granada will show you how to roast and grind cacao beans and create your own Nicaraguan chocolate bar. 

After dining at a local restaurant this evening, we retire to the Hotel Plaza Colón.

Transferring to the capital, Managua, this morning, we board a privately chartered flight for Guatemala. Upon touching down in Flores, a short drive takes us along a causeway to the town’s island. Admire the bright, colourful houses during a walking tour before dining in one of Flores’ local restaurants on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá. Take in further perspectives of the lake and its surrounds during a cruise. Our boat then docks at Hotel Camino Real Tikal, where we spend the next two nights. Take the rest of the afternoon at leisure before we reconvene for dinner at our hotel.

Explore the jungle ruins of Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander paths beyond the thriving vegetation to admire a collection of ancient temples. Though we may find ourselves transfixed by these archaeological wonders, we also can’t help but be distracted by sightings of monkeys and the occasional ocellated turkey. We continue on after lunch, our expedition taking us to the Uaxactun archaeological site. A tour of the area informs us of the sustainable forestry practices of the local community. We also meet with a local chiclero, who offers us a demonstration of the processes involved in harvesting chewing gum. One of the Maya temples provides an ideal viewing point from which to appreciate the vast jungle surrounds. Absorb these astonishing views while enjoying sunset drinks. This evening, we dine by candlelight among the ruins before taking a final short walk through the jungle.

Returning to the airport, we take a scheduled morning flight to Guatemala City. We then transfer by road to the city of Antigua. The well-preserved Spanish-colonial architecture here remains the city’s focal point. Look beyond this succession of colourful buildings and you will also spy the three looming volcanoes of Pacaya, Fuego and Santiaguito. Walk the city’s network of cobblestone streets to discover the elaborately designed facades of its many churches. This evening, we retire to El Convento Boutique Hotel for the first of three nights.

After this morning’s breakfast, Antigua reveals more of its charms. Follow the road to the town of San Miguel, where you will meet the owner of a coffee plantation. Join the workers in picking, pulping and grinding the raw materials that produce the finished product, before sampling your own brew. 

You are also free to enjoy a relaxing morning or discover the town on your own schedule. 

This afternoon, join an optional adventure to the Acatenango Volcano. A fleet of 4x4 vehicles negotiates our ascent of the volcano’s steep slopes, taking advantage of a private road along the way. Our access to this local route saves us several hours and what would have otherwise been a long and demanding hike. Exiting our vehicles, we continue with a much more manageable climb, taking approximately 90 minutes, which sees us arriving in time to admire spectacular views of the nearby Volcan de Fuego, or Fire Volcano. We celebrate our arrival at the summit with sunset drinks. From this safe distance, we are treated to a fiery show as Volcan de Fuego erupts, sending its searing red lava skyward. 

As before, you are also welcome to remain in town for an afternoon at leisure. 

We take our choice of dining venue this evening from Antigua’s many restaurants; you may also like to dine at our hotel.

Board a helicopter this morning for a swift flight to the town of Chichicastenango. Along the way, we soar over terrain punctuated by active volcanoes and a patchwork landscape of fertile fields. On arrival, explore the fascinating and colourful market town before heading to the revered Iglesia de Santo Tomás, the Church of St Tomas. Its striking white facade is reached by negotiating 18 stone steps, which represent the 18 months of the Maya calendar. We then attend an authentic shaman ritual; the enthralling ceremonial act taking place before a pre-Columbian Maya idol. Afterwards, take a walk through Chichicastenango’s colourful cemetery. Here, families of the departed routinely paint their tombs and monuments in vivid hues. Each colour is imbued with symbolism, from the purity of white to turquoise for protection. A personal tribute may also be expressed using their loved one’s favourite colour. 

Our helicopter waits on stand-by, and we soon take to the skies once more for the brief flight to Lake Atitlan. This idyllic body of water and its beautiful surrounds is the preferred setting for many of the region’s local artisans. We take a tour of one of the villages, meeting some of its craftspeople and admiring their work. Enjoy lunch along the waterfront before we meet back up with our helicopter for the return flight to Antigua. Tonight, our gala dinner will take place within one of the town’s colonial monuments.

From Guatemala City’s airport, we join a scheduled flight to Mexico City. After touching down, we head straight to The St Regis Mexico City, where we relax in Grand Deluxe rooms. Our hotel hosts us for this evening’s dinner.

Mexico City’s expansive square, the Zócalo, awaits our arrival this morning. Extending from the quad are an assemblage of architectural marvels representing the city’s storied past, from pre-Columbian ruins to the Spanish-colonial era, and the modern day. Admire the grandeur of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and the Palace of Fine Arts. And get swept up in all the activity and atmosphere pervading the bustling Avenida Francisco Madero. 

Following lunch, set out on your choice of Your World experience:

— In the southern neighbourhoods of Coyoacán and San Ángel, enjoy an exploration of the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Visit Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s vibrantly decorated house, which now serves as a museum. At Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, gain further appreciation for the enduring connection between these two influential figures of the art and political worlds. 

— Walk the halls of grand Chapultepec Castle, whose interiors are adorned with murals painted by one of Kahlo’s contemporaries – Juan O’Gorman. Chapultepec Castle is notable in that it is the only true castle in North America, having been the residence for Mexico’s Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota in the 19th century. Take in panoramic views of Mexico City from the castle grounds.

You may, of course, prefer to spend the afternoon at leisure, to relax or explore on your own terms. A choice of dining is available this evening, at either our hotel or one of the city’s many quality establishments. Should you wish, perhaps adjourn to the Arena México for an evening of authentic Mexican wrestling, otherwise known as Lucha Libre. A line-up consisting of masked heroes and villains enters the ring, where they strive for dominance and the rapturous applause of the crowd.

Make the most of your final full day with a Your World experience:

— Begin your day with a spectacular hot air balloon flight over the valley of Teotihuacán at sunrise. Staggering perspectives arise as you pass over the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Following breakfast, explore the ancient archaeological site from the ground, as you wander the Avenue of the Dead. This central passage leads you between a succession of grand temples and palaces. While here, you will learn about the beliefs, rituals and daily life of the Teotihuacanos civilisation.

— Meet at a local market, where you’ll select fresh, seasonal ingredients, guided by your expert culinary mentor. Then join a cooking class, during which you will learn all about the techniques and tantalising flavours of Mexican cuisine. 

You also have the option to take the day at leisure.

Early this evening, we enjoy an after-hours visit to the National Anthropology Museum, which yields comprehensive accounts of the peoples who have collectively known this land as home. Joined by our private guide, we see a wide-ranging collection of artefacts, including the tomb of King Pakal and the colossal Aztec Sunstone. We then toast our journey during a Farewell Dinner.

Our thrilling exploration concludes after today’s breakfast. Farewell your Tour Host Team and fellow guests as we join our respective transfers.

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