Antigua to Panama City, (ZGP)

Panama City to Antigua 28 days, departing 13 Apr 2014
The Arenal volcano lets of steam near La Fortuna, Costa Rica Colonial buildings in the centre of Panama City A view of the skyline of Panama City The Santa Catalina arch in the beautiful colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Panama City to Antigua
Duration: 28 days
Transport: US style school bus, Boat, Flight
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


Suitable for most fitness levels.
Accommodation:

10%90%

Hotels, Hostels, Campsites

Route Map

Countries Visited

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is every outdoor-adventurist’s dream, and is packed full of spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife, and fascinating culture.

Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse countries on Earth, and is home to many iconic animals such as hummingbirds, quetzals, tree frogs, monkeys, sloths and sea turtles. This is evident on a trek through the atmospheric cloud forests of Monteverde, or on an exploration of the spectacular beaches of Manuel Antonia National Park. 

Complimenting this is some of the most wonderful natural scenery, including incredible coastlines, forests, lakes and volcanoes. One of the most breathtaking sights is the active volcano of Arenal, which looms over the town of La Fortuna! Costa Rica is also home to some of the best outdoor activities in the world, with a plethora of opportunities for rafting, trekking, canyoning and horse riding throughout the country.

Costa Rica has gained a wonderful reputation for tourism in recent decades, and this reputation is certainly deserved!

El Salvador

The incredible landscape of Cerro Verde National Park, El Salvador

El Salvador (meaning "The Saviour" in Spanish) is one of the smallest but most friendly and exciting countries in Central America.

El Salvador has some stunning scenery, from the relaxed Pacific coastlines of Los Cobanos to the coffee-growing cool hills in the interior. The Cerro Verde National Park contains some of the most breathtaking volcanic scenery on the continent, and provides excellent opportunities for trekking.

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

The centre of the spectacular ruined temple complex of Tikal

With breathtaking mountains, volcanoes and the amazing Lake Atitlan setting the landscape, Guatemala is a perfect place to get out and explore some stunning natural scenery.

The country is bursting with vibrant culture, and nowhere is this more perfectly illustrated than in the old colonial capital of Antigua, not far from the modern capital of Guatemala City. A small cobblestoned city that is overflowing with historical buildings and colonial heritage, it is a stunning place to explore, full of music, galleries and restaurants, and is an excellent base to trek up some of the surrounding volcanoes.

Lake Atitlan is one of Central America's most picturesque spots - surrounded by towering volcanoes and dotted with tiny traditional village along its coast, it is a wonderful place to take a boat trip and explore. Not far is the village of Chichastenango, with its famous, colourful and evocative local markets.

Guatemala's most famous draw is the truly incredible ruined city of Tikal. The site was a major settlement of the Mayan civilisation between the 5th-9th Centuries CE, and contains some of the finest ancient ruins in the world! There are several colossal and well-preserved pyramids and temples all majestically located within the dense rainforest - it's a magical place to explore and is full of fascinating history.

A favourite of many who travel through Central America, Guatemala is a beautiful and fascinating country with an incredible density of highlights!

Honduras

The sun shines behind one of the ancient Mayan pyramids at Copan, Honduras

Honduras is on often-overlooked country in Central America, but has some of the continent's most fantastic highlights. One of these highlights is the amazing coastline spanning hundreds of kilometres along the Pacific - with some of the whitest beaches and clearest ocean in Central America, the Bay Islands is the perfect place for snorkelling, scuba diving and relaxing on the idyllic shores. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world, and submerged below the clear waters lie unspoilt coral and an array of colourful underwater life.

Another fantastic highlight is the ruined Mayan city of Copán, which was a major centre of the Classic Era between the 5th-9th Centuries CE. The site features many remarkably-preserved buildings and temples, and is especially famous for its sculpted monuments and stelae. Away from the coastline are the fantastic mountains that soar above the country.

There is some amazing scenery in Honduras which we have the privilege to overland through, making it a marvellous inclusion in our Central American trips.

Nicaragua

The spectacular Volcan Conception on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The rugged beauty of Nicaragua makes it one of the most interesting places in Central America to visit.

The landscape is lined with stunning volcanoes which you can climb and explore, such as the scenic crater of Masaya and the challenging trek up Volcán Concepción on Ometepe Island. The country is full of many other outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, sandboarding, horse riding and discovering the beautiful beaches of the Pacific coast.

You can also explore the incredible colonial towns of Granada and León, and their churches, cathedrals and many art galleries. Some of the continent's most ornate and beautiful colonial legacy can be found in these two atmospheric towns, and they are wonderful places to spend some time.

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

Panama

Panama is the southernmost country of Central America, where the continent narrows to its tiny join with Colombia and South America. This piece of geography made Panama the perfect location for the world-famous and controversial Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914 and has a massive impact on world trade and history.

The capital of Panama City is a bustling metropolis full of culture and with a buzzing nightlife. It contains several fantastic museums and an atmospheric old town as well as the modern business centre and marina. The county also has some amazing mountainous and coastline scenery, a myriad of exhilarating outdoor activities, incredible wildlife and wonderful coffee plantations.

Panama is an excellent place to start or end your Central American adventure with Dragoman!

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Daily Itinerary

The Arenal volcano lets of steam near La Fortuna, Costa Rica
A typical street in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose
At the end of a trip in San Jose, Costa Rica
Local girls heading hom in San Jose, Costa Rica
Ottoman tiles in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
The Santa Catalina arch in the beautiful colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala
The quiet cobbled streets of Antigua, with the 'Agua' volcano dominating over the town
A local woman sells roses in Antigua, Guatemala
Colourful masks on sale at the markets of Antigua, Guatemala
A stunning panorama over Antigua, Guatemala, from the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint
A curious face carving in the Copán ruins, Honduras
The ancient Mayan pyramids at Copán, Honduras
The sun shines behind one of the ancient Mayan pyramids at Copán, Honduras
The incredible Caribbean beaches of Roatán, Honduras
The incredible Caribbean beaches of Roatán, Honduras
Capuchin monkeys on the Bay Islands, Honduras
Heading out for a scuba diving trip on the Bay Islands, Honduras
A view over the colonial town of Granada, Nicaragua
The façade of an old Spanish church in Granada, Nicaragua
Horse-drawn carriages line up in the colonial town of Granada, Nicaragua
On the beaches of Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
A group on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
The spectacular Volcan Conception on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
A sloth watches us in the cloud forests of Monteverde
A stunning Resplendent Quetzal near Monteverde, Costa Rica
Walking through the lush cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica
On Monteverde's fantastic zip-line course through the cloud forests of Costa Rica
A red-eyed tree frog in the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica
The active Arenal volcano dominates over the Costa Rican town of La Fortuna
The stunning Blue Mosque of Istanbul
The breathtaking coastline of Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park
A cute Squirrel monkey after our lunch in Manuel Antonio National Park
A secluded beach in Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park
A racoon prowling around the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park
The Church of the Recollection in León, Nicaragua
The fountain at the front of León Cathedral, Nicaragua
Poltical grafitti in León, Nicaragua
The incredible landscape of Cerro Verde National Park, El Salvador
The Dragoman overlanding bus in the El Salvadorian town of Suchitoto
The serene El Salvadorian town of Suchitoto
Fishermen on Lake Yojoa, Honduras
Above the crater of the Masaya volcano, Nicaragua
The colossal Las Sierras caldera in Masaya National Park
Some of the beautiful forest scenery in Chiquiri, Panama
On the stunning beaches of Santa Clara, Panama
The small coastal town of Santa Clara, Panama
Colonial buildings in the centre of Panama City
A view of the skyline of Panama City
Heading out on a rafting trip in Boquete, Panama
Picking fresh coffee beans in Boquete

Day 1: Panama City

( Sun 13 Apr )

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

Tel - +507 225 1162

About Panama City:

The bustling modern Panamanian capital has a long history - the original city was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistadors, acting as an important stopover for the ships taking gold and silver from the Americas to Spain. It was also a base for several expeditions to explore and conquer areas of South America. This original city was burned down in 1671 by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan, one of the most infamous and ruthless pirates operating on the Spanish Main. The city was rebuilt in 1673, just 8kms from the original settlement, around which the modern metropolis has evolved - the ruins of the original city are known as Panama Viejo, and can still be visited today.

Panama is perhaps most famous for the Panama Canal, located near to the capital. The 78km-long canal links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via a narrow section of the Isthmus of Panama, allowing ships to pass between the oceans without having to traverse around the entire continent of South America. Completed by an American-led team in 1914, the canal has had a massive and controversial effect on worldwide trade, maritime, and international politics - in fact Panama owes much of its independence from Colombia to the USA backing separatist rebels in return for an agreement that they could set up a US-administered zone along the new canal they would build, a deal which caused a lot of tension between the USA and Panama throughout the 20th Century, with Panama only gaining full control over the canal in 1999.

Day 2: Santa Clara, Panama City

( Mon 14 Apr )

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 world-famous Panama Canal at the Miraflores Visitors' Centre, and learn all about the fascinating history of this controversial structure

Included in Kitty

Day 3 to 4: Chiriqui, Boquete

( Tue 15 Apr to Wed 16 Apr )

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

Head out on an exhilarating white-water rafting expedition on the Chiriqui Viejo river near Boquete, one of the world's best rafting areas with 35 world-class runs to choose from

USD 65

Head out on a tour of some of the fascinating coffee plantations around the Chiriqui Highlands near Boquete

USD 30
About 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.

About Boquete:

Boquete is a picturesque small town in the stunning green hills of western Panama, close to the Costa Rican border. Its cool climate attracts many visitors, and its incredible forest scenery is some of the most beautiful in Panama. The area has gained a fantastic reputation for exciting outdoor activities such as rafting and forest treks, and is the base for a challenging day-trek up to the summit of Volcán Barú, Panama's highest peak at 3,475m - on a rare clear day it is possible to see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea at the same time from the summit!

Day 5 to 6: Manuel Antonio National Park

( Thu 17 Apr to Fri 18 Apr )

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

Head out on a wonderful quad biking trip through the tropical countryside of Manuel Antonio and Quepos

USD 40

Take a guided walk through the stunning trails of Manuel Antonio National Park, finishing at the world-class tropical beaches where you can swim and relax

USD 16
About Manuel Antonio National Park:

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Central America's most spectacular spots - stunning sandy beaches between the calm ocean waters and lush rainforests, complete with lots of walking, paddle-boarding, fishing and boating opportunities. There are plenty of animals to spot in the area, such as capuchin monkeys, iguanas, coatis and sloths - the park is a vertiable paradise, and it's possible to find some beautiful secluded beaches despite it being one of Costa Rica's most visited places.

Day 7:

( Sat 19 Apr )

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.

Day 8 to 9: Monteverde

( Sun 20 Apr to Mon 21 Apr )

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

Take a guided trek to explore the stunning forest trails of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, learning all about the fascinating and beautiful ecosystem there

Included in Kitty

Explore the stunning forests and banana plantations of Monteverde on a horse riding trip

USD 25

Fly above the cloud forests and valleys of Monteverde on an exhilarating zip-lining course

USD 50
About Monteverde:

Monteverde and the cloud forests which surround it are considered one of the top destinations to visit 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 try to spot the indigenous birdlife such as the Resplendant Quetzal.

The cool hills of the area is perfect for the growing of coffee, Costa Rica's most famous export - it is possible to visit several plantations around Monteverde to learn more about the process of coffee cultivation. The beautiful rich cloud forests are also perfect for trekking, canopy walks, and other activities such as zip-lining through the valleys and treetops!

Day 10 to 11:

( Tue 22 Apr to Wed 23 Apr )

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.

Day 12 to 13: Ometepe Island

( Thu 24 Apr to Fri 25 Apr )

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

Climb to the summit of the Madera volcano on Ometepe Island (please note that although this is an easier trek than up Concepción volcano, it is still a very strenuous hike and you need to have a high level of fitness to complete it - the trek usually takes between 7-9 hours)

USD 42
About Ometepe Island:

The serene island of Ometepe is beautifully located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and is formed of the volcanoes Concepción and Madera, which rise from the lake. The name of the island literally means "two volcanoes" in the Nahuatl language, from "ome" (meaning two) and "tepetl" (meaning mountain). The island's wonderful hourglass shape is home to great beaches, deep jungles, beautiful lakes and fantastic waterfalls, which are wonderful to explore on some treks around the island. For the fit and the daring, you can even try to trek to the summit of Concepción itself!

Ometepe has some unique petrolglyphs dotted throughout the island, traces of the myseterious Niquirano civilisation that once occupied the island - the oldest of these date back to around 300 BCE, and many can be seen on your explorations of the island.

Day 14: Granada

( Sat 26 Apr )

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.

About Granada:

Granada is the oldest European-built city in the Americas, having been founded in 1524 - it was named after its counterpart in Spain, in honour of the recapture of the city from the Islamic Moors by the Catholic monarchy in 1492, which marked the end of the Moorish occupation of Spain. Being an important economic centre, the city saw many battles from English, French, Dutch and American pirates looking for supremacy over the area. Following Nicaragua's independence, the city entered into a bitterly-fought rivalry with León over which city should be the capital of the new country - in the end a compromise was agreed and the new city of Managua was constructed mid-way between the two!

Granada is a fantastic place to visit and explore, and has many exciting optional activities within reach.

Day 15: Masaya National Park

( Sun 27 Apr )

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 dramatic crater rim of the active Masaya volcano between León and Granada

Included in Kitty

Visit the traditional markets in Masaya village, famous for its local handicrafts

Free
About Masaya National Park:

In the stunning volcanic landscapes between León and Granada lies the incredible sight of the Masaya caldera. Formed by an eruption around 2,500 years ago and growing larger ever since, the caldera is a massive crater with a glowing red lava fire at the bottom, with pungent sulphurous fumes being almost continuously pumped out. It is a 'sub vent' into the colossal Las Sierras shield volcano that covers a wider area, and volcanic rocks and ashes still cover the area surrounding the caldera giving the place a very haunting atmosphere!

Day 16: León

( Mon 28 Apr )

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

Freely explore the charming colonial city of León and its incredible old buildings including the Cathedral of the Assumption, the largest cathedral in Central America

Included in Kitty
About León:

The original town of León was founded by the Spanish in 1524, but was moved to its current location in 1610 after the original site suffered from a series of earthquakes - the ruins of the original site (now known as León Viejo) can be visited and are one of Nicaragua's most incredible historical sites. The city has an abundance of old colonial buildings and an extraordinary array of old churches, including the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of León, a Baroque-era cathedral that is the largest in Central America and has a very distinctive style. As well as this fantastic heritage, the city is a lively university town, and has a bewildering choice of optional activities available in the surrounding volcanic countryside - as such it is a fantastic stop on our trips through Nicaragua 

Day 17: Lake Yojoa

( Tue 29 Apr )

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: Roatán

( Wed 30 Apr to Fri 02 May )

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

Head out scuba diving to the beautiful coral reefs off the coast of Roatán

USD 50

Head on an epic underwater expedition in a unique private submarine, exploring the dark depths hundreds of metres under the surface of the ocean

USD 500

Rent sea kayaks to explore the magnificent Caribbean waters surrounding Roatán island

Free
About Roatán:

Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands, the famous islands in the Caribbean off the coast of Honduras and one of Central America's most scenic spots. This archipelago of coral islands set in the sparkling Caribbean is known for its laid-back atmosphere, and the culture of the seafaring islanders is very distinct from that of the mainland. The scuba diving and snorkelling around the reefs is said to be some of the best in the world and extremely good value, and there are a wealth of activities available here such as kayaking and simply relaxing on the superb beaches.

Day 21 to 22: Copán

( Sat 03 May to Sun 04 May )

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 magnificent ancient Mayan ruins of Copán

Included in Kitty
About Copán:

The ancient ruins of Copán are the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famed. The area was populated by Mayans coming from the region of Tikal, and the city flourished as a major Classic period kingdom between the 5th and 9th Centuries CE. Copán developed a distinctive sculptural style, and the site is unique due to the 21 columns that have been found there that 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 to explore on our visit there.

Day 23: Suchitoto

( Mon 05 May )

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.

About 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 lake of Embalse Cerrón Grande, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.

Day 24: Cerro Verde National Park

( Tue 06 May )

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 the spectacular volcanic landscape of Cerro Verde National Park, one of El Salvador's gems

Free
About Cerro Verde National Park:

The centrepiece of El Salvador's Cerro Verde National Park is the towering peak of Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2,500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2,030 meters above sea level. Cerro Verde, along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco, form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside National Park, and there are some wonderful treks enabling you to see some fantastic views of northern El Salvador.

Day 25 to 26: El Imposible National Park

( Wed 07 May to Thu 08 May )

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.

About El Imposible 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 09 May )

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.

About Antigua:

Antigua is the commonly-used name for Antigua Guatemala, the old colonial capital founded in its present location in 1543 with the original name of Santiago de los Caballeros. The delightful historic city boasts a wealth of well-preserved colonial buildings in a Spanish Baroque style, so much so that the whole historical centre has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Antigua is also exquisitely located in the central highlands of Guatemala, surrounded by the towering volcanoes of Fuego, Agua and Acatenango.

Antigua is only a short distance from the modern capital of Guatemala City, and remains the cultural centre of the country - its old buildings and cobbled streets juxtapose wonderfully with its lively mix of Indian markets, indigenous marimba music and many bars and restaurants, creating a fantastic and unforgettable atmosphere. There are also countless optional adventure activities to be enjoyed here, including a possible excursion to the nearby active Pacaya Volcano.

Day 28: Antigua

( Sat 10 May )

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

Take a trek up to the famous active volcano of Pacaya near Antigua

USD 59
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Important Notes

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

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our 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, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of 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 to participate in everything on offer.

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.

We will be travelling to areas in remote locations where medical assistance will not be available. If you have a medical condition such as a heart condition that would put you at risk, we would suggest that this is not the trip for you. Also, please be aware that should an emergency occur, there is likely to be a considerable delay in accessing medical care, and by joining our trip you accept this risk.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. 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 read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, Dragoman will obtain this on your behalf as part of your trip price - we will contact you to request additional information in order to make this application for you.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, you may find it beneficial to use a specialist visa agency to assist you with your applications. While this does sometimes increase the cost, it usually makes the process much easier for you. We have a long-running partnership with The Visa Machine, a specialist visa agent who we recommend to help you apply for your visas (especially if you are applying for several countries at the same time).

As you will often 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.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

Panama

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Panama as a tourist for up to 180 days. Certain nationalities will need to buy a tourist card on arrival at the border for USD5.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

Costa Rica

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Costa Rica as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

Nicaragua

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Nicaragua as a tourist for up to 90 days. All visitors will need to buy a tourist card on arrival at the border for USD10.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

Honduras

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Honduras as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

El Salvador

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit El Salvador as a tourist for up to 90 days. Certain nationalities will need to buy a tourist card on arrival at the border for USD10.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

Guatemala

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Guatemala as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

Flying to Central or South America via the USA or Canada

If your flight to Central or South America goes via the USA, then you must obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel (except for citizens of Canada, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and most EU countries are part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an ESTA.

An ESTA must be obtained online and in advance via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ - please note that you will be denied boarding your flight if you do not have this arranged.

If you are not eligible for an ESTA, then you will have to obtain a B-1/B-2 visa for temporary visitors, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via the USA.

Please note that if you have travelled to Iran, Sudan, Iraq or Syria since March 2011, or hold dual-nationality with one of these countries, then you will not be eligible for an ESTA and must instead apply for a visa. There are some exceptions to this, please see the following link for more details - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251577.htm.

Similarly, if your flight to Central or South America goes via Canada, then you must obtain a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before travel (except for citizens of the USA, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, South Korea and Japan are part of Canada's Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an eTA.

An eTA must be arranged online and in advance – please go to http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/ , apply and pay the appropriate fee.

If you are not eligible for an eTA, then you will have to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via Canada. Please note that several Eastern European nationalities will need a visa.

Personal Spending

Personal Spending - North and Central America

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in North and Central America, we recommend you allow between USD20 and USD40 per day.

This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips, and personal permits.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman was founded in 1981, and has had many years of experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose-built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up-close. Your journey will be overland, sometimes across vast distances, so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey, you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip, you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores, etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys, but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention.

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world, and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split between 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 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the wonderful aspects of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and the variety of people that you will meet.

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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 Cuzco and during the Inca Treks. This means a group starting a trip in Cuzco will embark on the Inca Trail at the same time as a group finishing in or travelling through Cuzco. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail at the same time.

Please note that there is also 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 a group starting their trip there. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 8 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to 6 months on the road as a trainee. Our crew are trained to manage and operate the trip safely and efficiently and their duties include: planning the trip according to the itinerary, driving and maintaining the truck, securing services of local guides, general logistics, health and safety, liaising with bureaucracy, dealing with issues where needed and offering advice and support to our customers. In addition they have a basic knowledge of the places visited and will be able to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your tour leader is new to a particular region or training other crew, new to the area.

On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. However on our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. 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, the Americas, India and Turkey, in addition to our crew we will employ local guides in specific locations of interest (for just a few hours up to a few days).

On the majority of our trips in Central Asia, China and South East Asia, in addition to our crew we will have a local guide on board who will travel with us for the entire duration of our time within one country. In these cases, the local guide becomes a third crew member and is able to offer their local knowledge as well as an insight into their country and the lives of the local people.

Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you 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.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share.

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 wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.

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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 (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments 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 and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

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

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not whilst staying in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park or historical site entrances, excursions, etc.).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and 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 and 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.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips). Alternatively you can pay in advance via a bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip - please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v6.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip. Please also note that this option is not available for our trips to West Africa or Iran.

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (usually in US Dollars). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly impossible to change around the world, with passengers and our leaders having experienced frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change them. For this reason we cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. 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, the 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 group's 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 using 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 them to prepare meals).

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.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others. If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, that you would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring this with you. Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Itineraries

Our itineraries are developed and published with the best of intentions, however travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip, but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for 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 many years of experience.

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advice when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advice rather than the advice of other governments.

However, we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. If there are any travel warnings present for the region you will travel to, as well as considering whether you are happy to travel despite the warning you must also check to ensure that it is not invalidating your travel insurance. Here are a few useful addresses:

UK -  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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 also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up-to-date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

You 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 assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you 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. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you 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.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self-assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

Some areas that we travel to have a risk of contracting malaria. If you will travel through these areas, it's always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus - please see more information here.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn, so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light-coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitos present. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your 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 and in hotel rooms, but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: www.nathnac.org and www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

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. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free, but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

Of course we want you to have an enjoyable time, but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third-party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully-fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion.

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells.

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window, a door, or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver.

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings and driving styles may be very unpredictable, so please remain very vigilant when near roads and vehicles.

• Crash helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out if possible.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, have dangerous gaps between the stairs and the wall, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes, they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays.

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group the tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure the cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are a minimum of 50m away from the tents and the cooking area.

• All food waste should be burned or buried a minimum of 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife in the area.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp, ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.

Food Safety

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the western world. Unfortunately this is a reality of life in these regions. Therefore please think carefully about where you eat, what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety
 

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. 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. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Always remain aware and vigilant, and stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Always avoid carrying your passport, driving licence, air tickets, and other valuable items around with you unless this is essential. Instead, keep valuables such as this locked away in the truck's safe, or the safety deposit box in the room or reception of the hotel/hostel.

• If you are carrying cash, cards or valuables, use a money belt or neck wallet which are more easily concealed and more difficult to pickpocket.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery, watches, etc. away with you in the first place.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

• Always try to walk with confidence and purpose, which will help you avoid looking like a lost tourist!

• Take special care when walking to avoid spraining or twisting your ankle on potholes, cobbles and uneven ground. 

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). Some of these activities require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip and its activities to their fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish, or have the physical ability, to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty, and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the client ‘on the road’, subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

Always ensure that your travel medical insurance covers you for all included and optional activities that you wish to participate in.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there. 

Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed. 

Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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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.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £2,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000 (or the full cost of your trip). Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, tablets, phones, ipods, etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss. Please note that you should be insured for trip postponment or cancellation purposes immediately upon paying a deposit.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity that you intend to undertake (whether included or optional). As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding, etc., and that the 24-hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries - for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us, please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

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. Many credit card medical insurance policies are not valid for travelling outside your country of residence or outside the EU.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

We have a dedicated 24-hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left your home country to start the trip 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 these 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) 7985 106564

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Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag for 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 truck's back locker which will be inaccessible during a drive day, 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. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

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 a large rucksack with a capacity of about 80 litres (approximately 70cm high, 40cm wide, and 40cm deep). The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 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, 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 that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

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

• Sleeping bag* - check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert, mountain and high-altitude regions and Patagonia can be very cold, especially in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides) - this will help keep your sleeping bag clean, provide extra insulation on cold nights, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*.

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc., and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day.

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best).

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Men should bring a pair of trousers that covers al their legs and women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship.

• 2 pairs of shorts.

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking.

• 1 pair of sunglasses.

• Warm sweater/fleeces.

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood.

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots).

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops.

• Underwear and socks  - thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude, Patagonia or to the desert, as it can get very cold at night.

• Swimwear.

• 2 small towels.

• Washing kit, including a small mirror.

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush and washing line (just a length of cord).

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs - only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5V batteries are widely available en route.

• Passport photos - at least 4, and more if you are applying for visas en route.

• Good water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity.

• A pouch or money belt to be worn inside your clothing, or an unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers.

• Alarm clock.

• Pocket calculator - useful when exchanging money.

• Writing materials and notebook/diary.

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - the tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Wipes" (moistened tissues) and hand gel.

• Toilet paper - this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route, but one roll may be worth packing.

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp.

• Extra batteries for your camera, etc., as there may are only limited opportunities to recharge them en route.

For a comprehensive kit list, take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. Dragoman customers can receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click here to see the kit list - http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

*For trips with camping nights.

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Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a standard motorist's first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles, and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, 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 travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:

Overlander kit (including painkillers) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2910/Overlander-Medical-Kit-(P)

Independent kit (including painkillers and antibiotics) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2909/Independent-Medical-Kit-(POM)

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Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of your 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 your trip. If you change your passport, please remember to inform us as soon as possible - however, please be aware that changing your passport can cause big problems if you need to apply for visas or permits (such as the Inca Trail or Gorilla Trekking) in advance.

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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 the 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 that 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.

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Continuing Your Trip

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

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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 will be required to contribute the additional costs involved 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.

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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 from the link below:

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in the bottle, 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 sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank on 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 pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be usually equipped with a 12-Volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12V 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 adapter for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850 MHz 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.

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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 groups.

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.

Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you 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.

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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.

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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 USD 1 to USD 4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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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 to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and 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, as well as other presence on other social media platforms.

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Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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