Central America

Geography

Central America is comprised of seven countries namely, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Central America has numerous volcanic mountain ranges. The longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras; the Cordillera Isabelia in Nicaragua, and the Cordillera de Talamanca running through Costa Rica and Panama.

Basically, the climate of Central America is tropical. The dry season lies between December and April and is recommended as the best time to travel around the region. This is the peak season for tourist with nice weather and clear blue skies along with a number of national holidays including Easter and Christmas. The rainy season runs from April to December with hurricane season hitting the region in September and October.

Culture

Central America boasts a spectacular assortment of cultures, different races and languages, and history. The region’s magnificent archaeological site must be visited by travelers who wish to explore and understand the region’s rich culture. Many celebrations and festivities are constantly taking place somewhere in Central America. Spanish is the official language in all Central American countries. However, Belize has English as its primary language.

Central America is proud of the heritage and history as evident if the countless museums in the area. San Jose’s Museo de Oro in Costa Rica showcases an abundance of pre-Hispanic jewelry. It is one of the most awe-inspiring museums in the region. Another traveler’s favorite is the Butterfly Museum in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Transportation

Air

Copa offers a complete overall service in Central America as its service travels between all the major cities. Grupo Taca also has numerous flights among Central American countries. Be mindful of the weight of your luggage the plane’s crew will weigh both you and your bags as to avoid overloading the plane. Always try to book in advance to get the best deals and also make sure to reconfirm your flight upon arrival.

Bus

Buses are the cheapest and most convenient way to travel the roads in Central America. Fares are cheap and buses are prevalent. Longer bus rides and inter-country trips are somewhere around $10 to $30. However, buses tend to stop frequently at any point to let people on and off. Furthermore, trips are slow and most are not direct drives. One good aspect of commuting in Central America is that it relies a lot on hitchhiking as buses have irregular schedules and are often full.

Taxi

Taxis are generally cheap and widespread in major towns and cities in Central America. In some countries, taxis have no meter. Be sure that you agree on the price and if the price is for the whole trip or per person before climbing aboard the cab. Sharing with strangers is another common occurrence which should be avoided at night. Avoid roaming the streets during the night to catch a cab as it is unsafe. Also, avoid taxis which are unmarked.

Boat

Small, local water taxis travel to the Bay Islands in Honduras, Caye Caulker in Belize, Bocas del Toro in Panama, and the Corn Islands in Nicaragua. Larger boats may have first and second class seating but that’s often on a first-come, first-served basis. Be extra careful when traveling during the holiday, especially during Easter as it can become crowded.

Food

Central America is very much influenced by the flavor profiles and ingredients of other regions including Spain, Asia, India, and the Caribbean. Most common ingredients which almost always appear in this region’s cuisine are corn or maize, peppers, beans and seafood in the coastal regions. Belizeans who arguably enjoy the widest variety of foods.

The national dish of Costa Rica is called Gallo Pinto. Many Salvadoran dishes are made with maize as the primary ingredient and their national dish is called Pupusa. Guatemalan focuses more on a stew made of meats and vegetables that are most commonly found in a town called Antigua. Meanwhile, Honduran cuisine uses more coconut, in both sweet and savory dishes, than any of the other Central American countries. Nonetheless, the flavors are all bright and fresh fruits and vegetables are grown and consumed in abundance.