Cycle Central America
Day 1 Granada
Arrive in Granada at any time. Granada is approximately one hour from the Managua International Airport, and taxis are readily available to transfer you to the hotel. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members.
Day 2-3 Ometepe (2B,2L,1D)
We depart from Granada at 0700 for our first journey on two wheels, please note there are no helmets provided. We head out of Granada to visit one of Nicaragua’s famous active volcanos in Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya. The Masaya volcano was first discovered by the Spanish back in 1524. Since its discovery, Masaya has erupted at least 19 times and from 1965 to 1979 it has contained an active lava lake. Masaya is a caldera that contains approximately 13 vents. Most activity at these vents consisted of effusion of basaltic lava. Pyroclastic eruptions have constructed an additional three cones: Masaya, Nindiri, and Santiago. We cycle along a paved road out of Granada surrounded by the incredible natural beauty of Nicaragua. In 1979, Masaya became Nicaragua's first National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya). In addition to visiting this impressive crater you can find some other spectacular sightings at the park. You can hike up to another dormant crater which also provides a fantastic view of the Santiago crater and the area. There is also a trail that leads to a cave inhabited by bats. Other trails bring you to panoramic viewpoints. Hiking through the reserve will also allow you to observe the spectacular landscape created by past eruptions. The nearby markets of Masaya also house vendors selling great Nicaraguan handicrafts such as hammocks, pottery, and paintings. We travel south to the town of San Jorge where we board a ferry and cross Lake Nicaragua to arrive at Ometepe Island. This unspoiled island paradise formed out of the lava flowing in between two volcanoes, Maderas (1394m) and Concepción (1610m), is a nature-lover’s dream with abundant wildlife and beauty. It is located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, tenth largest freshwater lake in the world and home to the world’s only freshwater sharks. Once on Ometepe, we have a day cycling around the island. We pass through lush forest and small villages around the island where they farm a variety of crops in the fertile volcanic soil including plantains, coffee, beans and tobacco. We stop en route to visit the coin museum, keep an eye out for Howler Monkeys at Chaco Verde Lake, view pre-Columbian petroglyphs or the small museum of indigenous artifacts in Altagracia. We stop for lunch in a local restaurant before spending the evening in a local Planeterra-supported homestay. The group will be split up amongst different local families who will host you in their homes for two nights in a small community on the island. Breakfasts and dinners will be provided in the home. The Planeterra Project - the community homestay program Puesta del Sol in the village of La Paloma on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, is now receiving at least two groups per week from G Adventures increasing income for the community. Planeterra is strengthening the organization with training on how to run their small businesses and is investing in solutions to reduce environmental impacts. We are also working on developing other small businesses in the area to be linked to the home stay, creating a sustainable supply chain - and more positive local economic benefits. Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours Approximate Cycling Distance (Granada to Masaya) - 17km Approximate Total Distance: 150 km
Day 4-5 La Fortuna (1B)
Our journey takes us onto one of the most iconic roads in all of the Americas. The Pan-American Highway travels from Alaska down to Patagonia, covering the length of the continent, and taking in a huge variety of terrain, the road snakes its way through 23 countries, with a break of just 87 kilometres along the way. We get back in the saddle when we reach Lake Arenal, in the shadow of the eponymous volcano. The volcano, once quite active, has been in a dormant state since the beginning of 2011 but still is a dramatic backdrop to the town of La Fortuna. We cycle through lush rainforest and over rolling hills before we arrive in the town of La Fortuna. Along the way we are likely to see monkeys and a variety of birds as this colourful route is brought to life. The road we follow is almost entirely paved, and travels over rolling hills. After a day of cycling we, as we cycle up Arenal Volcano to El Castillo. We follow a route via Arenal Dam up to the village of El Castillo. This ride takes us on an old road connecting Arenal Dam with the main entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park. From there we go towards the village of El Castillo, crossing country tracks through farm land, and keeping an eye out for diverse wildlife. This afternoon is free to relax or enjoy some of the many activities available in La Fortuna. Approximate Cycling Distance - 35km (Arenal to La Fortuna) Approximate Cycling Distance - 15km (Arenal to El Castillo)
Day 6-7 San José (1B,1D)
Today we transfer to Costa Rica's capital city. There is nothing planned for the rest of the day, so If there is time, we recommend travelling into the city to visit a museum, shop or people-watch in the main plaza. A mime, juggler, marimba band, magician, or storyteller may be performing and artisan booths are common, creating a regular arts and crafts fair atmosphere. With numerous museums to choose from, here are a few we suggest: The National Theater, inaugurated in 1897, was paid for by coffee growers through a voluntary tax on every bag of coffee exported. The National Museum, housed in the Bellavista Fortress, offers exhibits on pre-Columbian art, colonial art, and furniture and religious art within a 19th century building that was converted from a military fortress after the army was abolished. The Museum of Costa Rican Art, located in La Sabana Park, was at one time the international airport and this museum is in the old terminal building. The Jade Museum is on the 11th floor of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building and in addition to the collection of jade objects, there are pre-Columbian ceramic and stone works. The Gold Museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura, its spectacular collection of indigenous gold art belongs to the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The best, and least expensive places to buy souvenirs are at the San José markets at the Plaza de la Cultura, an outdoor open market; and the Central Market, where handicrafts are sold along with boots, fish, flour, herbal remedies, shirts and anything else you can imagine. Always watch your belongings and be ready for crowds. Like most cities, San José has its good and bad sides. It is the center of government, theater, and art and has beautiful parks and museums, but also has a few beggars on the streets. It is big and often noisy, but even from its crowded downtown streets, you’ll often enjoy a view of the surrounding lush mountains. Probably the hardest thing you will do in San José, other than get safely across busy streets, is keep the street numbering systems straight. Street and avenue numbers are posted on buildings at the corners of some intersections. Keep looking as you walk, and you will eventually find one. Located in the central highlands, San José enjoys a moderate climate. The heat and humidity of the coast and lowland areas may affect some with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply a reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water (cold bottled water is available everywhere) and do not attempt too much on any given day. The following day we head to Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica. Follow downhill tracks through cloud forests and cattle farms, to the colonial town of Orosi. Situated in a river valley and surrounded by coffee plantations, Orosi offers thermal water springs and the magnificent colonial church built in 1739. We’ll finish the day with a traditional Costa Rican “casado” dinner.
Day 8 Turrialba (1B,1D)
Heading out of Orosi we follow the old road from San Jose down to the coastline. Riding along the scenic Orosi and Reventazón River valley we bike through coffee and sugar cane plantations. Tonight we spend the night on a lodge overlooking the valley and the city of Turrialba.
Day 9-10 Puerto Viejo (2B,1L)
Continuing to the coast, we change to a different mode of transport - white water rafting. Costa Rica is renowned for the variety and quality of the rafting available, and today we will raft class III and IV rapids through the land of the Cabecar indigenous people. Stop for a great riverside picnic lunch and continue rafting all the way to the Caribbean lowlands. In the afternoon we drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where we can relax for the afternoon on the beach. The next day is free for you to relax. We can ride or walk the quiet beaches south of Puerto Viejo all the way to the Manzanillo-Gandoca Refuge. Ride, swim, surf or hike in the rainforest or simply relax at the beach in this laid back Caribbean village
Day 11-12 Bocas del Toro
Crossing into Panama, we travel by means of buses then a boat to arrive at the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro, which means the bull’s mouth. Our time here offers us plenty of opportunities to snorkel, scuba dive, or just relax on the beach. The Archipelago of Bocas del Toro is made up of 6 islands, only 2 of which have roads and services for tourists. Cycling here is a great way to get around the main island, as it is almost entirely flat. Getting around the island is approximately a 20 mile round trip, although you may want to stop along the way. The islands are very unique in many ways. The islands and closest shoreline are an isolated pocket of lowlands, between the mountains and swamps of most of nearby mainland. Because of this, there is much wildlife and fauna ,which are found only in this region and nowhere else! The islands are mostly covered in rainforest, and have spectacular beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling or diving. If you prefer not to cycle there are plenty of other options for you to choose from. Snorkelling and boat trips between the islands are readily available, or you could choose to just relax at the beaches here. Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours Approximate Distance: 70 km
Day 13-14 Boquete
Transfer to mainland Panama, and cross through dense jungle, passing banana plantations to reach the Panamanian highlands. Its a long day of travel before arriving at the impressive mountain retreat of Boquete. A plethora of outdoor options await us here, including numerous hikes, whitewater rafting and a tour of a coffee plantation. The picturesque town of Boquete is nestled in a green mountain valley, with a beautiful river running through it. The town is well-known for its cool, fresh climate and unspoiled natural environment, making it an outdoor lover’s paradise. There are numerous hiking tours to choose from, as well as horseback riding and whitewater rafting. It is also a good place to just relax in the mountain climate as a break from the lowland heat. For the coffee lovers, there are many plantations that offer tours of their factories as well as taste tests. We have a day for cycling through the highlands here, covering the terrain on many of the pristine, wide jungle tracks. The highlands are a great place for cycling, as the varied terrain and cooler climate makes for a very different experience to the previous couple of weeks. Estimated Travel Time: 8 hours Approximate Distance: 340 km
Day 15 Panama City
Its a full day of travelling today to get to Panama City, the country's capital. Once here, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the city before our final day of cycling.
Day 16 Panama City (1L)
We leave Panama City and head for Summit Park, a 250 acre park that is teeming with Panamanian flora and fauna. Our ride continues to Soberania National Park, close to the Panama Canal, a popular destination for bird watchers, so keep your eyes peeled. The tour ends in Panama City in the late afternoon, please book ongoing travel after 3pm.