Antigua to Panama City (ZGP)

Panama City to Antigua 28 days, departing 01 Dec 2013

Ratings for this trip

Comfort Zone: Basic / Adventurous

Basic comfort levels. Expect to rough it every now and again. On OVERLAND TRIPS be prepared to have some nights wild camping, campsites with basic facilities as well as some basic hotels, often on a multi-share basis. Some of the roads we travel along may be poor. On our ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS you will stay in simple, budget (1-2 star) accommodation with some shared facilities. Some accommodation may be on a multi-share basis and transport will be mainly local.

Physical Challenge: Moderate Fitness

MODERATE FITNESS: You will travel through areas that may be physically challenging. For example you may be at altitude some of the time. Depending on the trip, activities may include treks of 3-4 hours across hilly terrain, horse-riding and other adventurous activities. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Countries Visited

Costa Rica

Welcome to the easiest going place on earth. Welcome to beauty and paradise. Welcome to Costa Rica - so reads the national tourist board literature. Although hyperbolic it's hard to disagree.

Costa Rica has some of the most scenic views in Central America. The Poás Volcano National Park is a chance to get to the heart of a crater and see the astonishing views of the green lake. Paths leading up to these can lead to the amazing wildlife that lives in the park. Mountain squirrels, clay coloured robins and hummingbirds can be seen and heard all around, and it adds to the reasons why it is one of the most visited places in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica you can try something new every day, and Costa Rican food is just beautiful. Let your mouth water from the juices of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the country. Have breakfast the traditional way - fried plantains, egg and orange juice is the perfect way to experience yet another flavour of Costa Rica.

El Salvador

El Salvador is one of the most fascinating and exciting countries in Central America.

El Salvador translates as "the saviour" in Spanish, and there is much culture similar to Spain. It has many notable dishes, one being a delectable chicken and shrimp paella. Many dishes can be found in restaurants around the country, and although influenced by Spanish cuisine, it has it's own distinct taste. Like the food, the music is also distinct. There are many types of music in El Salvador including folk, popular and alternative tunes. Influenced by South American music of Mexico, Colombia and Cuba, this country has managed to develop the sounds to make it their own. The capital, San Salvador is home to some fantastic gastronomy festivals, and is the place to discover typical El Salvadorian cuisine, music and art. The largest city in El Salvador is a generally Spanish speaking city, and this runs throughout the country.

With some of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Central America, El Salvador is one of the most captivating places to visit.

Guatemala

With mountains and volcanoes setting the landscape, Guatemala is a perfect place to get out and explore.

The capital is Guatemala City, and it is a city bursting with culture. From the amazing art galleries and museums, to sporting venues and shopping centres, Guatemala City is full of life.

Quetzaltenango is the city with everything. Climb a volcano, hike through the countryside and listen to some live music by local bands. Known as Xela by the locals, it is the place in Guatemala to learn Spanish, help on extraordinary volunteer programmes and see amazing picturesque views.

In Guatemala, there is a tradition to eat certain foods on certain days. "Paches" is a potato based dish and is usually eaten on a Thursday. These traditions continue into special occasions such as Christmas. Like food, music is an important tradition in Guatemala and the national instrument is called the marimba. This type of xylophone is heard all over the country. It is not the only type of music in the country and the traditional music could be Marimba music, Garifuna and even rock music.

For a country with a difference, and many traditions, Guatemala is the place to visit.

Honduras

Honduras has an amazing coastline spanning hundreds of miles along the Pacific coast

With some of the whitest beaches in Central America, escaping and exploring is a must. The Bay Islands is the place to be for snorkling and scuba diving. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world, and submerged below the clear waters lie unspoilt coral and an arrary of colourful underwater life. With bright fish, manta rays, sea turtles and even white sharks split into 3 isles, it makes the Bay Islands the perfect place to explore.

Away from the coastline are the fantastic mountains that soar above the country. There is some amazing scenery in Honduras and it is the place where so many resources are found. Gold, silver, lead and zinc are only a number of these.

Another treasure to be found is the Honduran music scene. Garifuna and Reggae are two of the most popular sounds of country. Music is important to Hodurans and there is an institution in the city of Comayauga. It's a central point in Honduran meals, especially the national dish of Plato Típico. This meal is a centre of beef surrounded by drinks and music. These two Honduras' icons are brought together, and made a magnificent part of Honduran culture. The food is influenced by Spanish and African cuisine. Typical Honduran food has infused these two flavours together to create its own specific taste. 

The capital city of Honduras is Tegucigalpa, and it is also the largest city in the country. There are so many places of interest including museums and national parks. The river Choluteca runs through the capital city which runs over 200 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The city is surrounded by mountains and the heart of Honduras is ready to explore.

Nicaragua

The rugged beauty of Nicaragua makes it one of the most interesting places in Central America to visit. The landscape is lined with many volcanoes, of which you can climb and explore.

The capital, Managua is flowing with adventure. The traquil surrounding of trees and many untouched trails means exploration is a must. Discover the magic of poetry flowing through the city and enjoy one of the most relaxing capitals in Central America.
The contrasting city of Leon however, is full of culture. Churches, cathedrals and many art galleries are scattered around the city. Exploring sites and learning about the culture can be hard work, but with the wide variety of food and drink available, are a chance to relax. There are many street barbeques about, and with grilled meats and lovely pastry dishes. Nicaragua is a country that grows tropical fruits all year round. Juicy fruits such as mangoes, bananas, watermelons, plums, dragon fruits, star fruits and passion fruits are just some of the many wonderful fruits that can be found across the country. Like the fruit, the wildlife too is colourful. It is the place to find the three toed sloth. This wonderful animal can be seen swinging through the tree life, so keep your eyes peeled and there is a high chance you can see one. Other animals include anteaters, armadillos, sea turtles and spider monkeys.
 
A country brimming with culture is also home to some beautiful music. The Marimba is a xylophone styled instrument and infused with guitars and drums, the sound of Nicaragua can be heard. On the east side of the country, the music is heavily influenced from an Indian and Spanish culture, while on the west, the music is influenced by Africans.

Nicaragua is the forgotten treasure of Central America and is a perfect place to explore.  

Panama

Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and links Central America with South America having a land border with Colombia. Despite this travel between the two continents is diffcult due to the Darien Gap and the security situation within it. That said Panama is a safe country to travel around with a stable economy and because of its key geographic location, it is an important country in the area with a well developed service sector heavily weighted towards banking, commerce and tourism.

Democracy is now strongly emerging in the country as Panama puts behind it the political turmoil of the Noriega regime which saw American troops invading the country in the late 1980's and early 1990's in support of the Panamanian people who were being repressed.

The Panama Canal is obviously intrinsically important to the economy and has been since it was built between 1904 and 1914 and the tolls from the canal now form a considerable part of the country's gross domestic product.

Panama does not produce any banknotes of their currency, the Balboa, but use the American dollar. One dollar has the same value as one balboa, though it is difficult to find out what exactly a balboa is as the last and only time the currency was in use was back in 1941 and only for 7 days!

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Panama City

Sun 01 Dec 2013

Today is free for you to explore Panama City, so maybe a chance to look around Casco Viejo or Panama Vieja, before a group meeting at 18:00. We stay the night in a centrally located hotel.

If you are continuing on from Cartagena then your leader will have assisted you with getting to the airport for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Andino

Hotel Andino

Calle 35 y Peru

Bella Vista

Panama City

Panama

+507 225 1162

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend the night in Panama City, the country's capital.

Included in Kitty

Day 2: Santa Clara, Panama City

Mon 02 Dec 2013

This morning we set off to visit the Miraflores docks to see the Panama Canal is full operation. After a tour of the visitors centre we have a short 3 hour drive out of the capital arriving by the beach at Santa Clara for a chance to relax and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. We will camp by the beach.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Panama Canal

Included in Kitty

Day 3 to 4: Chiriqui, Boquete

Tue 03 Dec to Wed 04 Dec 2013

We travel some 340 kms today to the Chiriqui highlands and the town of Boquete where we stay in a small pension for 2 nights. The area is famous for rafting, hiking, horseriding and the nearby Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights at Boquete to enjoy optional activities

Included in Kitty

Go river rafting on the Chiriqui river near Boquete

USD 90

Various treks and hikes around Boquete

USD 20

Chiriqui

Chiriqui claims to be Panama's wonderland and it's little surprise. The province boasts of an amazing variety of scenery from pristine beaches on the Golfo de Chiriqui to lush tropical forests where you'll find exotic flora and fauna. The area is also Panama's main coffee growing area as well as being home to the Parque Internacional La Amistad for great hiking through the forests as well as incredible white-water rafting.

Day 5 to 6: Manuel Antonio National Park

Thu 05 Dec to Fri 06 Dec 2013

We leave Panama behind and cross into Costa Rica heading towards Quepos on the Pacific coast where the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is located. We spend 2 nights in cabins in the park enjoying jungle walks with a variety of optional activities on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in Manuel Antonio National Park

Horse riding near Manuel Antonio National Park

USD 30

Relax on the beach at in Manuel Antonio National Park

USD 1

Manuel Antonio National Park

At Manuel Antonio National Park there is the possibility to fish, walk or ride, but either way there is opportunity to see a host of wildlife.  The park is situated on the coast with beautiful secluded beaches.

Day 7: San Jose

Sat 07 Dec 2013

Today we head to Costa Rica's wonderful capital city of San Jose where we stay in a centrally located hotel allowing you the day and night to explore the city.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Costa Rica's capital, San Jose with free time to explore.

Included in Kitty

Day 8 to 9: Monteverde

Sun 08 Dec to Mon 09 Dec 2013

We continue north through Costa Rica and a short 140km drive brings us to the dense rainforest of Monteverde where we stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. This stunning area offers an incredible diversity of flora and fauna which hopefully you will be lucky enough to see during a visit to the Cloud Forest Reserve.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde

Included in Kitty

Mountain biking around Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

USD 25

Travel above the Cloud Forest of Monteverde on a zip line

USD 25

Monteverde

Monteverde and the cloud forests which surround it are considered the top destination in Costa Rica and certainly one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world. The bulk of Monteverde's rainforest and cloud forest can be found in the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde which attracts huge numbers of naturalists each year and the area is one of the best in Central America to view the indigenous bird, the Quetzal.

Day 10 to 11: La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano National Park

Tue 10 Dec to Wed 11 Dec 2013

A short drive north brings us to La Fortuna near the shores of Laguna de Arenal where we camp by the lake for fantastic vistas of the Arenal volcano and its lava flow glowing in the night. We stay by the lake for a couple of nights allowing you time for optional activities around the lake.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights around Volcano Arenal

Included in Kitty

Visit the thermal pools around the Arenal volcano

USD 20

Kayaking and rafting around La Fortuna

USD 60

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano National Park

La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most active volcano: the majestic Arenal. The Arenal Volcano is a regularly spewing smoke and ashes and is beautiful to behold at night as is glows from across lake Arenal, the second largest man made lake in Central America. Besides the panoramic views offered of Arenal from La Fortuna the town also offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metres high La Fortuna Waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and also some water sports on Lake Arenal.

Day 12 to 13: Ometepe Island

Thu 12 Dec to Fri 13 Dec 2013

This morning we cross into Nicaragua and hop aboard a boat and across Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, to Isla Ometepe. On the island we will stay in a small hotel for 2 nights giving you the chance to explore all the island has to offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights on Ometepe Island

Included in Kitty

Climb the Madera volcano on Ometepe Island

USD 25

Ometepe Island

Isla de Ometepe is beautifully located within Lake Nicaragua and is formed by the 2 volcanoes which rise from the lake. In fact, the name of the island literally means 2 volcanoes in the Nahuatl language with 'ome' meaning two and 'tepetl' meaning mountain. The island's wonderful hourglass shape is home to great beaches and deep jungle making it a great place to spend a day or two.

Day 14: Granada

Sat 14 Dec 2013

Crossing back to the main land we make a short drive to Granada, Nicaraguas's oldest city, oozing with colonial charm where we spend the night in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the colonial city of Granada

Included in Kitty

Granada

Granada is the oldest city of the 'new world' having been founded in 1524 and was registered as such registered in the official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain. Due to its Moorish and Andalusian appearance it is nicknamed as the Great Sultan, La Gran Sultana, and has a rich colonial history. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and simply is a beautiful place to visit.

Day 15: Masaya National Park

Sun 15 Dec 2013

Another short drive northbound brings us to Masaya National Park. We will visit the national park and the active volcano that lies in the middle of the park, viewing the crater and lava flows. We spend the night camping in the park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the volcano at Masaya National Park

Included in Kitty

Visit the market at Masaya

USD 5

Masaya National Park

At the Masaya National Park, the twin volcano craters of Masaya and Santiago are an incredible sight. At the bottom of a vast crater a glowing red fire, like a furnace, fills the air with a pall of pungent sulphurous fumes and rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The park is inhabited by many different kinds of animals including coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys and the park makes a wonderful place for trekking.

Day 16: Leon

Mon 16 Dec 2013

A drive of approximately 130kms takes us to the university town of Leon, with wonderful colonial architecture ranked second best in the country behind that of Granada. We may also possibly stop in Managua en route if time allows. We stay the night in a centrally located hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the charming colonial city of Leon

Included in Kitty

If the season is correct it may be possible to see turtles on the nearby beach of Playa La Flor

USD 30

Leon

The town of Leon is lined with derelict buildings and the walls are adorned with political murals and graffiti. Given this extraordinary setting it is a pleasant surprise to discover that you receive a cheery welcome from the locals in the market, though the variety of goods and foodstuffs available is limited.

Day 17: Lake Yojoa

Tue 17 Dec 2013

We start early today to cross the border and into Honduras. A long drive of 400kms brings us to Lake Yojoa, half way between San Pedro de Sula and Tegulcigalpa where we can camp for the night by the lake.

Day 18 to 20: Roatan Island

Wed 18 Dec to Fri 20 Dec 2013

An early start followed by a drive of just over 230kms brings us to the caribbean port town of La Ceiba from where we board a plane to the stunning Bay Islands and to Roatan. Here we stay for 3 nights in a lovely posada near many of the bars and restaurants the island has to offer.

Please remember there is a 25 USD airport tax not included on kitty today.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights stay on Roatan Island in crystal clear Caribbean waters

Included in Kitty

Go diving or snorkelling off the coast of Roatan Island

USD 50

Explore Roatan island by bicycle

USD 20

Rent sea Kayaks and explore the Caribbean waters surrounding Roatan island

USD 45

Roatan Island

Roatan Island is one of the famous Bay Islands.  This archipelago of coral islands set in the Caribbean is known for its laid back atmosphere.  The scuba diving around the reefs is said to be some of the best in the world and extremely good value.  During your stay on Roatan Island you can snorkel, go sea kayaking, hire jeeps or even get your PADI licence.

Day 21 to 22: Copan

Sat 21 Dec to Sun 22 Dec 2013

We return to the mainland and head 300kms to the spectacular ruins of Copan where we camp for two nights in the grounds of a hotel.

Please remember there is a 25 USD airport tax not included on kitty today.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins at Copan

Included in Kitty

Copan

The ancient ruins of Copan are the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famed. This particular site is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the Royal families.  There are also a number of small pyramid shaped temples and excavated vaults.

Day 23: Suchitoto

Mon 23 Dec 2013

Today we cross the border and enter El Salvador. Once the formailities are dealt with we continue to the lovely town of Suchitoto, with it's cobbled streets and whitewashed houses where we stay in a local hotel for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the wonderful town of Suchitoto

Included in Kitty

Suchitoto

Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past.  A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerrón Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlán, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.

Day 24: Cerro Verde National Park

Tue 24 Dec 2013

A short drive takes us to Cerro Verde National Park which offers amazing views of the surrounding volcanoes and countryside. We camp in the park which has basic facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Cerro Verde National Park

Cerro Verde National Park

The highlight of Cerro Verde National Park is the Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2030 meters above sea level. The Cerro Verde along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These 2 otehr volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside Cerro Verde national park. The park offers some wonderful treks enabling fantastic views of northern El Salvador.

Day 25 to 26: El Impossible National Park

Wed 25 Dec to Thu 26 Dec 2013

An early getaway brings us 170kms to El Impossible National park. We camp for a couple of nights and explore this incredible park with it's great diversity of plant and animal life where you may be lucky enough to see pumas, tigrillos or black crested eagles.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore El Impossible National Park

Included in Kitty

El Impossible National Park

As you can guess from its name this is a remote area, a national Reserve set up to protect the flora and fauna of the rocky slopes and forests of the Cordillera de Apaneca. This area was named for the perilous gorge which used to claim the lives of farmers and pack mules transporting coffee to the Pacific port. Today the park makes a great place for a trek and maybe the chance to see pumas, tigrillos, wild boars, king hawks and black-crested eagles. Hiking can get muddy and steep but offers grand vistas of misty peaks and the gleaming Pacific Ocean.

Day 27: Antigua

Fri 27 Dec 2013

This morning we drive roughly 300kms and across the Guatemalan border to the beautiful town of Antigua, the finest town in all of Central America. We stay the night in a lovely colonial hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the beautiful town of Antigua

Included in Kitty

Antigua

Antigua, the old colonial capital of Guatemala,  is only a short distance from the international airport at Guatemala City.  Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country and has a mixture Indian markets and colonial buildings. It's cobbled streets and indigenous marimba music in the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere. It is usually possible to arrange an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano.  This can be one of the most exhilarating experiences as it is often active.

The reward for a few hard hours of climbing in the late afternoon is to sit and watch the spectacular eruptions of the volcano from close quarters.  The red hot lava explodes into the dark night air and lights the whole sky like a spectacular firework display.

Day 28: Antigua

Sat 28 Dec 2013

The trip ends today and no accommodation is provided. During the day the more adventurous of you may wish to try and climb up Pacaya, an active volcano.

Activity Approximate Cost

Pacaya Volcano Walk from Antigua

USD 15

Visa Information:

Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

 

We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for Central America Itineraries

Central America is diverse continent so you should therefore be prepared for the adventure. There will be time for hiking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. The Central America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Visa Information

Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. Some are best obtained before you leave home and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible.  Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate.  However, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible.  Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply.  ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process.  This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.

As you will need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process. 

Panama

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 or 180 days. Depending on your nationality you may however be required to obtain a tourist card which are available upon arrival and cost $5. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Costa Rica

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Nicaragua

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Most nationalities are also required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Honduras

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

El Salvador

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Many nationalities however are required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Guatemala

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Flying to Central or South America via the USA

If your flight to central or South America is via the USA then you MUST obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.

An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriatefee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in Central America, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$20 and a maximum of US$40 per day.

This will covers expenses such as your drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permit

What else you need to know

Pre and post trip accommodation and connecting flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of your joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay. Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on. 

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet.  Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details.  These are normally payable in cash upon arrival, however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations. 

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer as not all hotels offer this service.

Accommodation on tour

Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities. 

Group size?

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location, however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16. 

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi for example will visit Zanzibar at the same time as groups starting their trips in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Who travels with Dragoman?

Our passengers come from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

Our Community

At any time before or after you book you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories You can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in, it's free and easy.

We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other - you can join here

Our crew and guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. On trips South of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. 

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew.

Your tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Health

All Dragoman travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of the trip without a refund. 

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase. 

For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all travellers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases customers should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. 

 

Vaccinations

 Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in. It is essential that you check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

 In the UK we have been working with Nomad travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up to date vaccination and health information. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

A good source of up to date information is the world Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/

Malaria

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your vaccination centre for the most up-to-date requirements

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores.  Mosquito coils are useful on still nights, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

Meals and group participation

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc.

While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

Responsible tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

A few Rules 

 Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman customers.  It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special.  The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children.  Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. 

 We expect all our customers to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass.  This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. 

Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

Safety and security

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise passengers to leave any valuable jewellery, watches etc at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice.

Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.

The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

Leaders reports from off the road

Local contacts we have built up over 31 years of experience

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougoThis website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip.

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites

Britain. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Emergency contact

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in theses trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.

Issues on the trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on customer_relations@dragoman.co.uk. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg.  Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to, there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created.  Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your Overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your hip pocket!

Personal medical kit

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only.  Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits  and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

Electrical equipment

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

The kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in instalments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew & kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The Kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility & transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive & save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties as they are the group's fund. 

We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.  Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

At least half of your kitty should be paid in cash in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars or Euros in West Africa). The outstanding amount can be paid in local currency during your trip; your leader will give you the exchange rate.  Most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

Continuing your trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet?  If on your trip you decide you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

Contingency emergency fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you should be prepared to contribute towards the costs and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash, traveller’s cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Throughout Central America the US Dollar is king.

Also in this trip you will have the departure tax for the flight to Roatan not included in kitty. You will need 25 USD each way for this.