Lake Nicaragua, Large as an Ocean

Have you ever taken a look to a map of Nicaragua?. If you have, you probably can't help to notice that there is a hughe lake in the south-west part of the country. Well, this is Nicaragua Lake, and it is hughe indeed!. From one shore you can not see the other shore in the horizon, it looks more like an ocean, with waves, tides, archipelagos of islands, but the water is not salty, it is fresh water. Did you know that this is the 2nd largest lake in Latin America?. Only Lake Titikaka in Bolivia-Peru is larger.

There is something else you should know, as far as I know this lake is the only one in the world that has sharks............can you believe that?. Yes, sharks living in fresh water, not salty water like in the oceans.

The Nicaraguans brag about having their own private sea, and it is a jewel of nature. The beauties it possesses have surprised visitors who have come to know this lake.

If you ever travel Nicaragua, you have to visit Lake Nicaragua, it's not only hughe as I said, but it is beautiful as well, it is a very interesting travel destination. Let me give you some basic information that may be useful:

Facts and history
The lake is connected with the Caribbean Sea by the navigable San Juan River, historically making the lakeside city of Granada, Nicaragua an Atlantic port. The lake even had a history of Caribbean pirates. However, despite draining into the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean is near enough to be easily seen from the mountains on the lake's Island of Ometepe. Before construction of the Panama Canal, a stagecoach line connected the lake with the Pacific across the low hills of the narrow Isthmus of Rivas. Plans were made to take advantage of this route to build an interoceanic canal, the Nicaragua Canal, but the Panama Canal was built instead. In order to have competition with the Panama Canal, the U.S. secured all rights to a canal along this route in some kind of a Treaty back in 1916. However, the idea of another canal in Nicaragua still periodically resurfaces, you never know!

The Islets
Near to the Port of Granada one finds an archipelago of more than 350 islets, which form a true tropical paradise. In Puerto Asese, 3 Km from Granada one can rent a small boat to cruise among the Islets. It's a labyrinth in the exuberant vegetation. The majority of the Islets have one or several small houses, usually under the shade of large mango trees. You can linger in one of the numerous country restaurants on the isles to savor the guapote, a fish found in the Lake. You can also spend an afternoon at an island beach, swimming and tanning yourself.

Zapatera Island
This large island which can be seen from the Islets is almost uninhabited. On this island one finds pre-Colombian statues which are now exhibited in the museum of the Convent of Saint Francis of Granada.

Ometepe Island
This is one of the favorite touristic destinations in Nicaragua. It is almost 300 km2 large, and it has enormous potential for tourism. Ometepe has two volcanoes, one active, El Concepción (1610 m), and the other dormant, El Maderas (1394 m). The volcanic ash has made the soil of this island extremely fertile, allowing continuous planting without fallowing. The volcanoes are visible from everywhere on the island, and life on Ometepe revolves closely around them. They also play an important part in the myths and legends of the island, which once served as an Indian burial ground

In Ometepe, you can rent horses, bicycles, or cars. It has attractive beaches and a tropical jungle for people with adventurer spirits.

You can climb the Concepción volcano, if you're in good physical condition though. The effort of the climb will be rewarded by a spectacular view from the crater. The crater itself is quite impressive and cannot always be seen because about half the time clouds cover the volcano’s summit. You can find guides for the climb at the Castillo de Altagracia Lodge.

If you don't have the spirit for a climb to the top of Concepción, perhaps you'll find Maderas more to your liking. The climb is easier, and a thick tropical jungle rich in fauna covers this volcano. It has numerous monkeys, boas, jaguars etc... In the crater you will see the mysterious cold lagoon of Maderas. You can camp by the shore of the lagoon if you aren't afraid to spend the night in a real tropical jungle. It is never a good idea to climb Maderas without a guide because it is easy to get lost in the jungle.

You can't go to Nicaragua without getting to know Ometepe Island. One embarks for Ometepe from the Puerto de San Jorge, 3 miles from Rivas. Launches leave each day in the morning. Be careful, because the boats don't leave at the announced times, and they tend to sail earlier!.

Solentiname Archipelago
These precious virginal islands are found in the south of the Lake, near to Costa Rica. Ideal for playing Robinson Crusoe. A community of primitive painters is installed in the archipelago, whose portraits are internationally famous. The Island of Mancarón boasts a comfortable hotel. You can embark for Solentiname at San Carlos

Well, hopefully you found this information useful and interesting, and don't miss the opportunity to visit this lake if you ever travel Nicaragua.

Monteverde, incredible cloud forest in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a world famous travel destination for rain forest places, and there is a very good reason for that, the rain forest is just incredible. There are many options as for rain forest trips to Costa Rica. This time I would like to share with you a very special rain forest place: Monteverde.

This place is famous worldwide, Monteverde will get you to know how magnificent and beutiful mother nature can be. This place is some kind of perfect combination between adventure and beauty of the rain forest. This place is a must visit if you like adventure and if you are a rain forest fan.

Cloud forest in Monteverde is one of the most known places if you are into eco-tourism kind of vacations. This place is about 4700 feet above sea level, this area is one of the most interesting places to visit in Costa Rica. You can find here more than 100 species of mammal animals, including 5 species of felines, more than 400 species of birds, thousands of different insects, more than 2500 species of tropical plants. This area is supposed to be one of the best refuges of wild life in the tropic. And I don't have any doubt about that, once you get to take a look at it you can definitely be sure all this is true.

If you get to walk into this beautiful cloud forest, you fell like you're walking into a magnificent green Cathedral. You can see there are a lot of tall trees festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines, and mosses.

The variable climate has helped produce an extremely high biodiversity. Spectacular wildlife includes the Jaguar, Ocelot, Baird´s Tapir, Three-wattled Bellbird, Bare necked Umbrella bird and the famous elusive Resplendent Quetzal.

Let me give you a quick background on the History and Nature of this exotic place, these facts I found in a document I read some time ago:

In 1972 under the threat of homesteading in the surrounding rain forest, visiting scientists George Powell and his wife joined forces with long-time resident Wilford Guindon to promote the establishment of a nature preserve. The Tropical Science Center was receptive to these efforts and accepted institutional responsibility for ownership and management of the protected areas. An initial land purchase of 328 hectares formed the core of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica.

In 1975 the 554-hectare community watershed reserve, founded in the mid-60s by members of the Quaker community and named Bosque Eterno S.A., was annexed under an administrative contract to the Preserve.After the Preserve's creation, the Tropical Science Center continued to secure the financial and human resources necessary to expand, consolidate, and properly protect and manage the non-profit Rainforest Preserve's current 10,500 hectares.

The region lays claim to some of the best-kept cloud forest in the entire country and is a paradise for bird watchers. Several nature preserves have sprung up to make sure this stays the case. Because of the beauty of the area, it is only natural that Monteverde has become a major part of the Costa Rican tourist trail - despite the poor roads leading up to and through it. This being a cloud forest of course one has to count with the possibility of continuous fog and/or light rain

The main attraction is "Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde" at the Southeastern end to the East of Monteverde proper, which is an enormous nature reserve. But usually only the area around the park entrance is visited. There are trails further inland though, where one can also stay overnight on platforms in the trees. It is even possible to cross the entire park to the Arenal Volcano, though this needs good planning and for those who are not used to jungle trekking it is advisable to go with a guide. If only because they tend to spot much more and will point out animals that one would likely never have spotted. Of course this also goes for other nature areas here and elsewhere (provided the guides are experienced, which they generally are here).

To the West of Monteverde proper lies the "Bosque Eterno de los Niños", a project in which schoolchildren from all over the world protect this area that is not really in the cloud forest and therefore better for some animal-observations. Guided night-walks can be done here.

Farther North, nearer Santa Elena, are a butterfly garden, a serpentarium and a ranarium (frogs). Still farther north, past Santa Elena, is the Reserva Santa Elena. Nearby one can do the Sky Walk, with seven suspension bridges (see photo), some as long as 300 m. This is a unique opportunity to see the forest from a completely different angle; from above.

A less tranquil way to go through the forest (not for nature lovers but for thrill seekers) is the Sky Trek in which one zips through, and occasionally above, the forest along cables. The Monteverde Canopy Tour is similar to this. Or the exciting Aventura Canopy Tour with the famous Tarzan Swing Aventura Canopy

Apart from all this there are many other, less official, tracks, such as the one up Cerro Amigos, where there are radio masts (the operators of which may be happy to meet someone - it's lonely up there).

Other activities include horse riding and mountain biking. There is some controversy over these activities since they make the tracks unusable for hikers. The horse riding tours have been attacked for abuse of the animals, but have responded by enforcing satisfactory humane practices. But in recent years this has improved.

Well, I hope you liked what I have shared with you about this beautiful place. If you ever travel Costa Rica you already know that this is a very interesting place to visit.

Valle de Angeles in Honduras, a beautiful town inside the mountains

This time I would like to share with you a beautiful tour you could make if you ever travel Tegucigalpa in Honduras. Tegucigalpa, the capital city in Honduras, is located inside the mountains, it is about 3000 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by several mountains. If you are into the city and take a look kind of north-east, you will see some majestic mountains in the horizon, not very far away. This majestic landscape is part of La Tigra National Park, which we will talk about in future posts, it's an interesting adventure by itself.

There are several beautiful towns going into those mountains. One of them is Valle de Angeles, not very far away from Tegucigalpa, about 30 minutes driving by car, the road is in good condition. And you know what?..........the whole 30 minutes in that road you can enjoy the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine, it's a travel into the mountains. You can see the green vegetation and nature in all it's magnitude. The mountains are filled up with pine trees, there are like thousands and thousands of pine trees, it's incredible.

This trip is like escaping from the city world, it's another world really. You can breathe fresh air, you can smell nature!

When you get to Valle de Angeles you will find out that this is a beautiful town with colonial buildings, churches, cobbled streets. And you have to take this opportunity to take a lookt at the most beautiful handicrafts you can imagine. Valle de Angeles is the uppermost Honduran handicraft showcase, another colonial and republican mining town, transformed in the past 40 years because of its cool climate into an ideal spot for artisans to showcase their many products, manufactured using many local materials. Mahogany carvings are one of the most appreciated crafts along with the Lenca pottery. There is no better opportunity for you to buy your souvenirs than here!. Within the town, there is an arts and crafts display area, consisting of several large halls. Here, you can see a vast selection of Honduran made handicrafts, many of which are made right here in Valle de Angeles. All of these items are for sale, and with luck, you might even meet some of the artisans that have produced them.

Valle de Angeles is a picturesque town that has become a favourite weekend escape for the inhabitants of Tegucigalpa. If you go there on Sunday, you will be travelling along with thousands of people that are escaping to the mountains in this quick trip. Its proximity, only 30 km. and the good highway connecting it to the capital has made it popular with foreigners, many of who have established in the area. During the week, Valle de Angeles is a quiet place with few visitors, however it is teeming with action during the weekends. The Instituto Hondureño de Turismo manages a park nearby that offers sites for picnics. The Park is set amongst the pine-clad mountainsides and offers a great alternative for a quiet outdoor adventure during the week. It is closed on Mondays and heavily visited on weekends.

There are several other towns nearby, they are an adventure apart. I will share with you about these other beautiful towns in future posts.

Tikal, incredible Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

If you are into archeological things and enjoy adventure trips, there are several options in Central America, a lot of ancient sites to visit, all of them with their own history.

The Mayan culture took its development in Central America many centuries ago, and they left some very interesting sites, temples and ruins to remember their culture forever and ever. Mayan ruins, they are incredible!. In former posts I talked about some other Mayan ruins in Central America, I have a post on this same site about Mayan Ruins in Copan, Honduras. But if you are looking for Mayan ruins to visit, you should also travel to Tikal in Guatemala, another great and historical mayan city.

Let me give you a quick background and facts about Tikal, it could be very helpful to know some interesting things about this incredible place.

Tikal is the largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Maya civilization. It is located in the El Petén department of Guatemala. Now part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist spot.The closest large towns are Flores and Santa Elena, about 30 kilometers away.

The ruins lay in the middle of the rainforest. Some trees at the Tikal park include gigantic ceiba (Ceiba pentandra) the sacred tree of the Maya; tropical cedar (Cedrela odorata), and mahogany (Swietenia). Regarding the fauna, agouti, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, ocellated turkeys, guans, toucans, green parrots and leaf-cutting ants can be seen there regularly. Jaguars and coatis are said to roam in the park.

Tikal in the Classic era
Tikal was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Monumental architecture was built here as early as the 4th century BC. The city was at its height in the Maya Classic Period, approximately 200 AD to 850 AD, after which no new major monuments were built, some of the palaces of the elite were burned, and the population gradually declined until the site was abandoned by the end of the 10th century.

The name "Tikal" means "Place of Voices" or "Place of Tongues" in Maya, which may be an ancient name for the city, although the ancient hieroglyphs usually refer to it as Mutal or Yax Mutal, meaning "Green Bundle", and perhaps metaphorically "First Prophecy". Scholars estimate that at its peak its population was between 100,000 -- 200,000

The Site
The site presents hundreds of significant ancient buildings, only a fraction of which have been excavated in the decades of archeological work. The most prominent surviving buildings include six very large step pyramids supporting temples on their tops. They were numbered geographically by early explorers. They were built during the city's height from the late 7th and early 9th century. Temple I was built around 695; Temple III in 810; The largest, Temple-pyramid IV, some 72 meters (230 feet) high, was dedicated in 720. Temple V is from about 750. Temple VI was dedicated in 766.

The ancient city also has the remains of royal palaces, in addition to a number of smaller pyramids, palaces, residences, and inscribed stone monuments. There is even a building which seemed to have been a jail, originally with wooden bars across the windows and doors. There are also several courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame.

The residential area of Tikal covers an estimated 60 square km (23 square miles), much of which has not yet been cleared or excavated. Some of the pyramids of Tikal are over 60 meters high (200 feet).

A huge set of earthworks has been discovered ringing Tikal with a 6 meter wide trench behind a rampart. Only some 9km of it has been mapped; it may have enclosed an area of some 125 km square.

The Basics
During the classic period, from 250 to 550 a.d., Tikal was home to more than 150,000 people and covered over 20 square miles. Sometime in the ninth century, fo what is now believed to be a combination of cultural and environmental reasons, the city was abandoned to the jungle - the last date carved into the monuments was 869 a.d.

Although locals probably always knew of the ruins, Tikal was not officially "rediscovered" until 1848 when an expedition was made to the site by members of the Peten government. They found temples, palaces, and pyramids covered with a thousand years worth of tropical growth - 200 foot temples were capped with 175 foot trees. In the twentieth century mammoth excavations and reconstruction's have been undertaken through a collaborative effort between the Guatemalan government and several U.S. universities. Still, only a small amount of the metropolis has been released from its living tomb.

In the last twenty years dramatic breakthroughs in decoding the rotund and sometimes menacing Mayan hieroglyphs have delivered to us from the previously mute monuments a culture of kings and queens and priests and blood, of ritulised warfare and enemy city-states, of massive construction and mass desertion, of complex astronomical as well as mathematical knowledge - in short, one of the most advanced civilisations of the ancient world, Old or New.

The abandonment of Tikal and other classic Mayan cities at the end of the first millennium is still not completely understood - the most highly regarded theories blame a combination of factors including environmental destruction, underclass rebellion, famine, and theocratic doomsaying. And, contrary to a dimestore para-science rumor, the Maya did not disappear, they migrated west to the highlands where, after five centuries of Spanish rule, they still weave their own clothing and practice the ancient rituals.

Well, there is a lot to talk about Tikal and the Mayan culture, I could write pages and pages about it. I suggest you take time to visit someday this beautiful and misterious place. It's not only the ruins, is also the region, the jungle, the landscapes, there is a national park, the name is Tikal National Park with a lot of things to see and many things yet to be discovered.

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Did you know that Central America is a region with several volcanoes?. Yes, it is, and many of these volcanoes sometimes are active, not all the time, just sometimes. There is like a chain of volcanoes that goes all the way down from Guatemala to Costa Rica. A lot of these volcanoes are touristic places, there are many tours available if you want to take a close look. It's not only the volcano itself, it's also about the great landscapes around it, some of them are like national parks.

This thing with the volcanoes is very interesting, there are many options for visiting a volcano if you travel Central America. One of the most interesting ones is Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica if you are interested in getting somehow personal with a volcano. Arenal, of course, is a Central American must-see, and you can hike around it. And you'll get more than just a pot of hot lava: The area around the volcano also includes a 2,900-hectare national park, an enormous reservoir, and a botanical garden.

Cloud and tropical forest encircle the base of the volcano, which is six kilometers from the town of Fortuna. Arenal itself is some 1,633 meters high and has been continuously active since July, 1968. Every night lava pours down the side of the volcano and huge boulders shoot into the air. Nearby Lake Arenal is used for windsurfing, waterskiing, sailing, and fishing.

What and adventure this is!. If you have the chance someday you should visit Arenal Volcano. In the meantime, let me show you a video about this Volcano, you can see how beautiful it is, not only the volcano as I mentioned before, but also the rain forest, the trees, the insects, the rivers, the lake. This is nature in all its magnitude.

Watching this video will give you an idea of what it looks like, it's not the same thing if you visit in person of course, but you will have like a picture of it. Press the play button, it's the one with the little triangle. I hope you like it.......

Antigua Guatemala, Monumental City

Antigua Guatemala is a colonial city in the central mountains of Guatemala, it is famous worldwide because of its beautiful and very well preserved buildings, churches and architecture from the Spanish colony built several centuries ago. Did you know that this city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.?. That's not a surprise for me. There are many colonial cities in Central America you can visit, but you must go someday to Antigua Guatemala, it's a must visit if you like and enjoy colonial cities.

I would like to share with you some facts and history about Antigua Guatemala and give you a quick background, so you can be informed at least with the basics if you ever travel there.

Antigua Guatemala serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. It also serves as the departmental capital of Sacatepéquez department.

The city had a peak population of some 60,000 in the 1770s; the bulk of the population moved away in the late 18th century. Despite significant population growth in the late 20th century, the city reached half that number in the 1990s. According to the 2000 census, the city has some 31,800 inhabitants.

Antigua Guatemala means the "old Guatemala". It was founded on March 10, 1543, and served as Spanish colonial capital of Central America. The conquistadores named the city La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala ("The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Santiago of the Knights of Guatemala"), in honor of their patron saint, Santiago, or St. James.

In 1773, it suffered two severe earthquakes, which destroyed much of the town. The Spanish Crown ordered the city rebuilt at a safer location, where what is now Guatemala City, the modern capital of Guatemala. In 1776 the badly damaged city was ordered abandoned, although not everyone left.

Antigua today
Central Park is the heart of the city the reconstructed fountain is very beautiful. People enjoy this park from early in the morning to late at night. Nowadays, Antigua is noted for its very elaborate religious celebrations for the Holy Week leading up to Easter.

There are also many Spanish language schools located in Antigua. Because of individualized instruction and reasonable fees it has become one of the most popular places in Latin America to study Spanish. Students are usually housed with local host families or in local hotels. They can engage in many other activities apart from immersion language courses. Tourists come to see all that Antigua has to offer, including nightlife, bars, restaurants, markets selling Mayan goods, and excursions via shuttles to surrounding sites.

Three large volcanoes dominate the horizon around Antigua. The most commanding, to the south of the city, is the Volcán de Agua or "Volcano of Water", some 3766 meters high. It is so named because the crater atop it was formerly filled with water. Shortly after the Spanish conquest of Guatemala, the first capital was on a site part way up this mountain, which was destroyed by a flood and mudslide when an earthquake let loose the water from the crater, and the city of Guatemala was moved down the valley to the current Antigua. The original site is a village now known as "Ciudad Vieja".

To the west of the city are a pair of peaks, Acatenango, long inactive, some 3976 meters high, and the Volcán de Fuego or "Volcano of Fire", some 3763 meters (12345.800524934 feet) high. "Fuego" is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level. Smoke issues from its top daily, but larger eruptions are rare.

Colonial Hotels
Finally, as for Hotels there are plenty of alternatives. However, I strongly suggest that if you ever travel Antigua Guatemala, take the opportunity to stay in one of the many colonial hotels in downtown area. A few years ago I went to Antigua Guatemala, and stayed in a very beautiful colonial Hotel, it used to be a Monastery in the colonial years many centuries ago. They have adapted the hotel facilities inside that Monastery so tourists can stay there. There is beautiful architecture, monuments, large aisles to walk inside the Monastery, landscape areas inside!. You have the feeling that you are experiencing what life was about many centuries ago, you lose sense of time in here, it's incredible!

Well, I hope you travel Antigua Guatemala someday, it's a must and an icon touristic place in Central America, no doubt about it!

Panama Canal Cruise

Interested to know a little bit about a Panama Canal Cruise?. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says "Panama"?. A lot of things maybe, but chances are that the most probable thing that comes to your mind is the Panama Canal. Well, what can I say about the Panama Canal?. I guess many people in the world know about the Panama Canal, it is famous worldwide.

Have you ever been to Panama?. If you have, I bet you did go to the Panama Canal, didn't you?. Well, I've been to Panama city several times, and each and every time I go there I can not miss the opportunity to visit the Panama Canal over and over. It's a real adventure, it's amazing how everything works with the structures, the gates. The giant ships passing through right in front of you.

A place you definitely can visit is Miraflores Locks, very near to Panama city. You can go there and take a very near look at everything. There are restaurants inmediately beside the Panama Canal. As you're eating or taking a drink you can see the gates working, the giant ships passing through. I've been there many times, but I guess I never get bored of seeing this again and again. I am really impressed of how all this was able to be constructed more than one hundred years ago. Those gates where the boats and ships go through, close and open all the time, every day, every week, for years and years!

One of the things you can do in Miraflores Locks is go into some type of theater they have right there, and you can watch a video of a Panama Canal Cruise making all the way through the Canal. The video is high speed, it lasts only a couple of minutes, since real time for a ship to complete the journey takes several hours. Somebody took a camera and filmed all the trip. So, it is like you are watching a movie, and you feel like you are going yourself into that ship looking at the Canal overboard. The ship enters from the Atlantic Ocean, and goes all the way through the Panama Canal until reaching the Pacific Ocean.

You can take a look at that video Right Here. This will give you an idea of the whole picture, it is not the same thing of course as if you were in person right there at the theater in Miraflores Locks, but it will give you a taste of it. Enjoy your Panama Canal Cruise.

Lake Yojoa in Honduras, a beautiful spot in the road

Are you interested in visiting a beautiful lake?. When I say beautiful, I mean "really beautiful". Well, there may be many options of beautiful lakes in Central America, and every one is very special. However, I can tell you for sure that one of the most beautiful definitely is Lake Yojoa in Honduras. ......have you ever seen pictures of landscapes with mountains, rivers or lakes in some calendars?. By the way, I have a calendar with pictures of beautiful places and landscapes from Switzerland, including some lakes, wow! ...........are they beautiful!. Let me tell you that Lake Yojoa in Honduras has nothing to envy to these landscapes in the calendars.

If you ever travel Honduras, chances are you will arrive either to Tegucigalpa -the capital city- located center/south of the country, or San Pedro Sula, the 2nd largest city in Honduras, located north. There are many places to visit around these two cities, all of them really good tourist destination. But let me give you some word of advise, if you ever have the chance do the following: drive from Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula (or viceversa), it is about 4 hours trip driving your car, the road is in pretty good condition.

You will see very beautiful landscapes in this driving trip, mountains, valleys, you can not imagine how many pine trees you will see, it's incredible. Well, one of the most beautiful landscapes you will find in the middle of this driving trip will be Lake Yojoa. It will attract your attention and I guess it is very difficult not to stop your trip for a while, and spend some time in the lake.

Lake Yojoa is located about 80 Km south of San Pedro Sula (1 hour drive), or 160 Km north of Tegucigalpa (3 hours drive). It's not a very large lake, I would say it's rather small, you can see the mountains in the other end and all around the lake. The water is blue all the time. There are several Hotels and resorts around the lake. You can enjoy some sports or hobbies like water sky or sailing boats.

There are many places nearby right beside the lake where you can have the best fish to eat you could possibly imagine. These places are not restaurants, they are more like little huts or shacks, a lot of them. You can stop by and have some fish in there. One fish I specially like is the one they call "Bass", it's real tasty. Some of these shacks have like an outdoor terrace with tables and chairs where you can eat, they are beside the lake, about 50 feet above the lake. What a view from there!, you can see the lake in all its magnitude from there.

Well, I hope some day you could make this trip to Lake Yojoa, and you will see by yourself what a beautiful place it is.....

Going for a stroll to Puerto La Libertad, El Salvador

Not very far from San Salvador, the capital city in El Salvador, you can visit Puerto La Libertad, which is one of the most visited tourist locations in the country. The popularity of this place is mainly because of its geographical location, it's only about 35 km south of San Salvador, the road is in very good condition, you can drive and get there in less than 1 hour.

This geographical location is important of course, but there has to be something else that makes this place so popular, the answer to that is pretty simple and straight is just a very beautiful place, warm and kind people, great landscapes and great food as well, and many other reasons.

The last time I was there early this year, I went from San Salvador to have lunch in a restaurant in front of the ocean. Since it is very near, you get there not tired at all, and you can enjoy very good typical foods, specially sea food. While you're eating you can have at the same time a view of the ocean and the beaches, you can feel the ocean breeze right in your face. It's a warm and great feeling, you can have a very relaxed time, I certainly did!

There are many beaches nearby. The ocean you have right in front of you is the Pacific Ocean with all it's magnitude and splendor. That of course means that the tides and waves are really strong. Several of those beaches nearby are very popular for people who love some special kind of activities and hobbies.....would you know what I'm talking about?. I'm sure you can guess......for people who love surfing of course. Local people even say that some of these beaches are among the best of the world for surfing, and I wouldn't be surprised, it is probably true.

After your visit you could go back to San Salvador taking the same road you came, or you could also go taking an alternate route to the International Airport going in another direction, and eventually get also to San Salvador, it's like going in circle just in another way around. This will take more than 1 hour driving, but you could take advantage of this opportunity to get to know a little bit more of the rural landscapes in order to wrap up the great relax feeling you probably will have in Puerto La Libertad.

Going for a stroll to Puerto La Libertad is just great and worth it!

Granada in Nicaragua, the oldest colonial city in Central America

Granada, a beautiful city in Nicaragua, is the oldest colonial city founded in Central America. It was the most important city in the region, not only for being the oldest but four being the best located in that time. If you travel Central America you will see many colonial cities all over the countries, very beautiful all of them, but Granada certainly is one of the most beautiful, with an ancient history. If you're looking to visit Colonial cities, you should definitely go to Granada.
Granada is located beside Lake Nicaragua, this is the Big Lake, we will talk about the Big Lake in future posts, it's more like an ocean, it's very large, you can not see the other side in the horizon. Granada was the main center of commerce due to the connection of Big Lake Nicaragua with the Caribbean Sea and just 18 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

The Spanish conquerors left the proof of their dominion as Granada and Leon (another colonial city) still keep the original colonial houses and public buildings of that time. When you go there and walk around the streets and see the colonial buildings and churches, it seems that the time has stopped, and you are like living in older times, many centuries ago, you can actually have that feeling!

In the streets and parks you can see horse drawn carriages, which were the way of transportation used during the colony and remain the same since that time. A tour in a horse drawn carriage is a must for visitors to Granada; it will take you back in time for more than 500 years.

Granada, the oldest colonial city in Central America, was founded by the Spanish conqueror "Don Francisco Hernández de Córdoba" in 1524. This city is rich in colonial architecture and the city tour allow you to close appreciate old colonial buildings like:

Old Spanish ammunition fortress La Merced and Xalteva churches San Francisco Convent (built in 1524) Casa de los Leones (A portal carved on stones showing two lions heads).

The city has good hotels to stay with modern facilities, and it's also not very far from Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, you can go to Granada from Managua in the morning and return in the evening, but if you could spend the night in a colonial place like this you won't regret it.

Beautiful Islands and Cayes in Belize

If you ever travel Central America, I strongly suggest someday you take the time to visit Belize, a paradisiac country with spectacular beaches. Belize is located east of Guatemala, and just south of the Yucatan peninsula. A lot of beautiful beaches en Belize, a paradise for adventurers, especially people who love scuba diving and similar hobbies and sports, Belize is a "must travel" place.

I've been to Belize a few times myself. I remember that once I visited a group of islands or cayes, it's incredibly beautiful. There are a lot of islands and cayes in Belize. The one I remember is Ambergris Caye . In order to get there, you have many alternatives. One of them is flying from Belize city to a town named San Pedro. Once you get to San Pedro you can go to several cayes nearby. The one I visited I had to take a boat and sail about 30-45 minutes. I remember there was a hotel in a caye, the only thing in that caye was the Hotel and it's facilities. Beaches with white sand, coral reef, espectacular weather. All you can imagine as a paradise you can find here.

In Central America there are many places very similar to the cayes in Belize, they are surrounded by a coral reef that goes from the Yucatan peninsula all the way down to Honduras caribbean coast, and goes on and on. They say that this coral reef is the second largest in the world, I guess the largest one is located in Australia.

Going back to the adventures you can find in Belize cayes, it's an interesting travel experience. If you're not afraid of sailing 30 - 45 minutes in a little boat in the ocean, go ahead and do it someday if you have the opportunity.

One day I was at the caye, and I had the opportunity to go out for dinner in San Pedro, that means you have to take the boat and sail 30 minutes, get to San Pedro and have dinner, visit the town for a while. At midnight I had to go back to the caye, and guess what, there was no option but to take the boat again at midnight. Going into the ocean and have a 30-45 minutes sailing experience into the sea, looking at the moon and the stars, what an incredible experience. It was a shame I was traveling alone, next time I will take my wife, so we can share togheter this beautiful experience.

Costa Rica, a first class travel destination

When you think about tourism and travel in Central America, probably the first country name or place that comes to your mind is Costa Rica. This is definitely a very good tourism and travel destination, no question about it. Why is that?. There must be many good reasons for this. It's interesting to know that Costa Rica is not the largest country in Central America, and it also is one of the less populated. As for natural places to visit (beaches, mountains, rain forest, etc), Costa Rica is not very different from all other Central American countries, as for natural places without the resorts and facilities you can find many sites in Central America very similar to the ones you can visit in Costa Rica. But they certainly know how to invest in tourism, travel and promotion.

A lot of options in Costa Rica for travelers from all over the world. The tourism industry in Costa Rica is first class. The type of resorts you can find in Costa Rica compete with the very best resorts in the World, there is no doubt about it.

If you ever travel to Costa Rica you will notice how tourism is every day activity, since you get to the airport in San Jose you notice right away. You find people from all over the world, people from Europe, Japan, USA, Canada, etc, you name it!

Did you know that many showbiz celebrities have chosen Costa Rica as their destination for traveling?. Celebrities like Madonna, Britney Spears and many others have chosen resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica just for naming one. Places and facilities like this one you can find all over Costa Rica, beatuful beaches, surrounding mountains, golf courses, horse riding, etc.

Costa Rica is very famous for its natural rain forest, very beautiful. I once had the opportunity to travel Costa Rica by car, I crossed the whole country from north to south, going from Nicaragua to Panama, it was a 2 days trip, the main road from San Jose to the south (going to Panama) goes through rain forest places, you can see nature at its best just looking out from your car windows, right there!

Good for Costa Rica, they certainly know how to work around tourism, first class.

Chiriqui, a beautiful province in Panama

I would like to talk a little bit about a beautiful place in Panama, that is the Province of Chiriqui, it is located in the west part of the country, near the Costa Rican border. Many people know Panama for his famous Panama Canal, which is of course the main atraction in the country, but places like Chiriqui is worth to travel if you have the opportunity some day.

Several years ago I lived in Chiriqui for almost one year, it was a wonderful experience. The capital city of the province is the city of David, a very beautiful city by the way. I remember spectacular and beautiful places near David, you can drive by car to nearby towns and regions. There are a lot of mountains, rivers, rain forest. It's interesting how diverse is the weather in Chiriqui, you have beautiful beaches less than one hour from David, and yet you also have beautiful towns with cold weather driving up into the mountains in less than two hours drive. I especially remember places like Boquete and Cerro Punta. You can see flowers all over the town of Boquete, spectacular flower gardens. The town of Cerro Punta is very cold by the way, by cold I mean the weather. If you ever go to Cerro Punta make sure to wear a good sweater.

There are many ways to go to David and Chiriqui. David is located about 500 km west of Panama city, if you go by car it would be aproximately 5 hours drive. There is an airport also, you can fly from Panama city very easily.

I also remember Chiriqui for being a very independent region, they call themselves "Chiricanos", when you somehow refer to them as Panamanians, they keep telling you that they are not panamanians, they are Chiricanos, they say it's not the same thing!. There is like a history of Chiriqui looking to be an independent country separated from Panama, people there talks about it very often.

Another atraction in Chiriqui is the Volcan Baru, I'm not sure but I think is the highest mountain in Panama, it's like a national park, very beautiful place. If you're interested in looking around and read more information on Chiriqui click here

If you ever travel to Panama and you have the chance, make time to visit Chiriqui. If you could get into a car and drive into this province, you won't regret it.

Travel Central America by Air

The easiest way to travel Central America is definitely by air. At least that's the beginning of the trip. Central America is located pretty near from USA, only a couple of hours from Miami or Houston.

Several airlines travel to Central America, there are many options to choose from. Of course those options include the most popular US airlines: American Airlines, Continental, Delta just for the purpose of naming some of them.

A pretty large airline company based in Central America is TACA , their main base is in El Salvador. That's another good option to choose, they have flights coming from US, caribbean, south america. Another one in Central America is Copa Airlines, based in Panama, with pretty good coverage in several countries.

At the end of the day, my point is that there are several options to travel Central America. All countries have international airports. The ones with the most air traffic are the airports in San Salvador (El Salvador), San Jose (Costa Rica) and Tocumen (Panama), mainly because TACA has bases in those 2 airports (San Salvador and San Jose), and Copa has it's main base in Panama city. Anyway, all other capital cities have their own international airport: Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Belize. Additionally, in Honduras there are additional international airports in San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and Roatan.

As you can see, there is a wide offering in airline options, this is for international flights. As for local flights there are also local airlines who cover the local routes within Central America. The good thing to travel Central America is that countries are very near one from another, a lot of options to travel. There is a lot to see, so traveling options are not a problem.

Guatemala, the Land of Eternal Spring

I don't know if you ever heard that Guatemala is known as the "Land of Eternal Spring". Well, there is a very good reason for that definition, as you know spring is supposed to be the best time of the year considering weather, not very hot, not very cold, just nice. It happens that many areas of Guatemala are located in areas where the weather is like spring season all year long. The capital city, Guatemala city, is located in one of those areas. The weather in this city is just great most time of the year. By the way, Guatemala city is the largest city in Central America..............did you know that?. It's the largest and most populated as well. On the other hand, Guatemala as a country is also the most populated in Central America, it is not the largest in extension however. Do you know which is the largest country in Central America?. That's a homework for you to find out, I don't think it will be too complicated to investigate, but go ahead, it will be interesting to know.
Going back to Guatemala, if you ever travel to this beautiful country it would be good for you to know that you definitely will find very beautiful places. As for the city, it is a modern city, with all features of a large city. Over 3 million people live in the capital city........did you know that?. Yes, you can tell it is a big city. Weather is just great, sometimes a little hot in summer season (March, April, May) at noon, but mornings and evenings are just great. These days there are some works at the airport, it is being remodelated, so you can expect to find construction works all over the place. I understand these works will go on all year long, and will be finished next year 2007. They say that the airport will become the best and most modern in Central America after these improvements and remodelations. We'll see that.

One particular thing about Guatemala is the multicultural customs and traditions. A lot of people in Guatemala are indigenous or natives, they descend from tribes that go from centuries ago, they even speak their own dialect or language. You can see them all over the place, they have beautiful traditions, very good food, interesting customs. One of them even got to win the Nobel Peace prize many years ago, maybe you've heard about Rigoberta Menchú , she is very popular and famous, not only in Guatemala and Central America, but in many other countries and continents as well.

You can find a lot of things and different places in Guatemala, from modern cities to colonial towns, spectacular views if you travel by road to towns inside the country. In the future I will share with you some comments about these places.

Mayan ruins in Copan

For people who travel Central America to find places with ancient history, like temples and ruins, mithology, history and related things, Copan Ruins is a must, you should go there sometime if you are an admirer of these kind of things.

Copan Ruins is located in Honduras. Many centuries ago, even before Spanish colonial men came to Central America, Copan used to be like the main location with scientific and cultural traditions of the Maya culture.

You can go to Copan by ground transportation, it is located in the West part of Honduras, very near to the Guatemala border. It is about 2-1/2 hours driving from San Pedro Sula, which is the 2nd largest city in Honduras. Right next to the mayan ruins there is a beatufil colonial town, the name you can guess: Copan Ruinas. It's a little but beautiful place.

When you go to the mayan ruins in Copan, you can find tourists from all over the world, I saw many european and japanese tourists the last time I was there.

There is a lot to see in Copan, I won't talk about details of the Mayan ruins history. I just wanted to comment on how interesting place this is. Anyway, if you want to know more about Copan Ruins click here

All I can say that if you ever go to Copan Ruins looking for this kind of tourism, temples and ruins, you definitely won't regret it.

Roatan and the Bay Islands

Have you ever traveled to a Paradisiac place?. What comes to your mind when you think of a paradisiac place near the beach?. Well, what may be exactly your definition of paradise, beach, palm trees, white sands, that is exactly Roatan and the Bay Islands.

The Bay Islands are a group of islands in the north coast of Honduras, right in the caribbean sea. These islands are famous for their beautiful beaches, and that is absolutely true. All spectacular views of beaches you could see in a movie or pictures around the world, you can be sure the Bay Islands have those views and places.

The Bay Islands are an archipelago or group of many islands, but the bigger 3 of them are: Roatan, Utila, Guanaja. That is the name of these islands. The larger island and most popular touristic destination is Roatan. Did you know that there is an international airport in Roatan?. Maybe you didn't, but there is. It's pretty easy to get to Roatan by air, there are some international flights from US (and even from Europe sometimes), I guess depending on the season. However, all year long there are flights going to Roatan coming from the main cities in Honduras (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba)

Another interesting way to get to the Bay Islands is by boat, yes, that's right. For example, there are some regular boat trips coming from La Ceiba, which is the 3rd largest city in Honduras. La Ceiba is right next to the beach, and its' coast is not very far away from the Bay Islands.

Many tourists from US and Europe also arrive to Roatan by Cruising ships, just like the ones you see in the movies, TV, magazines.

Do you like diving?. For people who love diving related activities, there are spectacular places to visit in the Bay Islands. Incredibly beautiful coral reef, you should see by's really beautiful.

There are many things to say when you talk about the Bay Islands, it is impossible to cover everything in one article or post. I will continue talking about it in the future.

Central America quick review & intro

Central America is a beautiful region, it has seven countries: Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. All of them are spanish speaking but Belize, which used to be a British colony several years ago, so it is an english speaking country with british customs. People talk english with british accent.

Do you know where Central America is located?. I'm sure most people know. However, in case you don't know or you're not sure, Central America is like a narrow frame of land to the south of Mexico, and it goes all the way down to Colombia. All countries are very similar in their customs, people, places. There are a lot of beautiful places to travel in Central America, it all depends on what people is looking for. As for beaches, they are incredibly beautiful, especially in the Caribbean sea. The countries in Central America that have more beaches in the Caribbean are Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. El Salvador is the only country that doesn't have beaches in the Caribbean, only in the Pacific Ocean to the south. Guatemala also has some beaches in the caribbean, but I guess Guatemala coast in the caribbean is not very large, it is rather short.

There is also a lot of ancient and famous Mayan locations, especially in Honduras and Guatemala. Have you ever heard about Copan Ruins? .....what about Tikal?. We will talk about these mayan locations in the next few days, they are great places to visit.

Costa Rica is becoming very popular tourism country to visit. There are great rain forests places, for people who love extreme adventures they surely can find a good place to go. But not only in Costa Rica, but in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama as well.

The diversity of places is enormous, even though the countries are not very large in extension. You can find beaches with very hot weather almost all year long, and you can also find towns with a very high altitude in the mountains, where the weather is rather cool most of the time.

I have visited myself all Central America countries, and I have seen with my own eyes the most beautiful places you can imagine. I will share with you some interesting facts and comments about this in the next few days.

Welcome to Travel Central America

Hello everybody, this is the first post of this Travel Central America Blog. I will share with you information, tips, travel experiences, comments and related news & articles about traveling in Central America, a beautiful region in the middle of the American continent, which has so many beautiful places to travel.

I have personally traveled to all Central American countries, each one of them. I have also traveled to other countries outside Central America, and I can tell you for sure that every possible tourist destination you have in mind you can find in Central America, the same or even better tourist locations compared to many other regions in the world. Beaches, mountains, rain forest, mayan ruins, colonial cities, warm and kind people, modern Hotels and resorts. The variety of tourist offerings in Central America is very wide and gets to the heart and soul of visitors, that's a sure thing.

If you've already been to Central America I'm sure you agree with me. If you haven't been, when you have the chance to go I'm sure you will agree with me.

Welcome again, and I hope we can enjoy together our traveling in this beautiful region.

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