A voyage of ancient cities, of pure life
Guatemala, Granada, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and more
A journey to Central America should begin in Guatemala, which is regarded as the birthplace of the region’s indigenous peoples. There, amid sprawling plains, complex volcanoes and ancient Mayan cities, you’ll find a mish-mash of cultures and stories divided (and partially united) by the 20 different Maya dialects spoken.
Make a pilgrimage to Tikal in Guatemala, a massive city hidden underneath and within a dense canopy of jungle. The city, preserved for visitors, features scores of pyramid-shaped temples thousands of years old. Then, perhaps, to Granada, where brilliantly-coloured churches dot the coast in a stunning display of old-world elegance. Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo is a 200-year-old crater lake crowned by lush forest - put a whole day aside to traipse through it. Colonial Spanish influence has transformed the culture across the continent’s hotspots, meaning siesta is an unshakable part of the daily agenda. Absorb the atmospheric quiet.
The farther afield you go, into modern cities like Panama, you’ll find flavours from other world cultures blended into an eclectic, fascinating whole. Asia, Europe, North America - Central America derives its diverse beauty, in part, from all of these cultures. You’ll find uncannily familiar sights on street corners and down narrow alleyways.
Take to the Caribbean coast for a dose of African vitality and relaxed beachside living. Or make for the waterfalls and sandy shores of Costa Rica, where serenity is juxtaposed, somehow seamlessly, with an intense party scene. Costa Rica - like offshore Nicaragua and El Salvador - attracts visitors with its world-class surfing.
The locals, who call themselves Ticos, will be proud to introduce you to their existential philosophy, ‘pura vida’, which means pure life. It’s a phrase used as a greeting and daily mantra, and its purpose is to remind you to relax. So recline in your own patch of white sand, try spot a toucan or macaw or sloth, and feel time dilate around you.