Central America cycling vacations

“Spend two weeks cycling through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama via volcanic vistas, rainforest national parks, Spanish-flavoured cities and some seriously cool surf towns.”

Highlights

Apoyo Lagoon | Santa Catarina lookout | Granada | White Towns artisans | Masaya Volcano | boat trip to Ometepe Island | Concepcion Volcano | Maderas Volcano | Ojo de Agua | surf town San Juan del Sur | Lake Fortuna | El Castillo | Santa Rosa | San Jose | Puerto Viejo de Talamanca | Manzanillo | Caldera | Boquete | Volcan Baru National Park | Panama City | Panama Canal | Soberania National Park

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25 Jan 2020
US $3230
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18 Apr 2020
US $3230
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08 Aug 2020
US $3230
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05 Sep 2020
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10 Oct 2020
US $3230
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21 Nov 2020
US $3230
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12 Dec 2020
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Responsible tourism

Central America cycling vacations

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

On cycling trips, it is easy to use plastic excessively, especially in hot climates or during the summer months. Rather than use single-use plastic bottles we refill our water bottles from a large drum kept on our support vehicle. We also encourage people to snack on fresh, seasonal fruits rather than processed fruits in plastic wrappers, and avoid unnecessary items like plastic straws.

Our greatest contribution to minimising our transportation's impact on the environment is to travel by bike, avoiding any use of energy or fuel. When we do use a vehicle, we are committed to providing local experiences and as part of this philosophy we use local forms of transport wherever possible. Where we use private transport, we stick to the small back roads minimising our impact on locals using the main roads for daily routines. Where we do use a support vehicle, we will always ensure that it is an appropriate size to suit the cyclists it supports i.e. no using a 30-seater coach if we only have five people traveling.

On this trip we use our own local Costa Rica-based supplier who shares our commitment to responsible business, from waste and water management to ensuring we are leaving as minimal a foot(tyre)print as possible. Where we use a third party, we ensure they are educated on all aspects of responsible business and supported in making any changes they need to improve in this regard.

Community

An important part of travel is mixing with the locals and experiencing “real life” in your chosen destination. On this trip, along with staying in locally-owned hotels and guesthouses, we visit small cafes and restaurants and buy locally produced crafts and fresh produce. This gives locals the opportunity to earn money directly and our travelers the chance to interact with local Costa Rican and Nicaraguan people in their everyday environment. We also use only local cycling guides and support staff, as well as local guides in many destinations.

We source local activities which we believe are sustainable to the economy in that they allow the flow of income from visitors to be distributed to a greater audience. This could be as simple as spending time in a local café, to cooking classes in a home and shopping at small local stores. On this trip you spend a day and night at a local homestay in Juanilama (Costa Rica), an agricultural community where you’ll have the opportunity to get to know local villagers, help with farm chores or take a cooking lesson. You'll also visit the stone carvings at Altagracia (Nicaragua) and learn about the early, culturally developed indigenous tribes who inhabited Ometepe Island long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. As well as spending time at the Gamboa Rainforest Discovery Center (Panama), a non-profit organisation focussed on protecting Panama’s bird fauna and rainforest habitat. Our local leader will also assist you in learning as many Spanish words and phrases as you can remember to better interact with the locals.

The role of females in cycling has often been that of support staff. To help combat this we try and ensure as many of our cycling trips as possible have a head female cycling guide.

All aspects of this trip (on the ground) are operated by people local to the region, including all our cycling guides, support vehicle drivers, local site guides, and accommodation providers. We provide our cycling leaders with a formal 4-5 day cycling training so that they are up to speed with the needs of our travelers as well as building their own skills.

Locals know where the best food, souvenirs, local crafts and entertainment can be found. This trip is operated by locals and we ensure any shopping opportunities, from the larger centers like Granada, San Jose and Panama City to the small villages and towns such as Juanilama and offer an authentic experience that showcases Central America's rich and unique culture and crafts.

Local food and drink is often a highlight in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and we offer a variety of opportunities to sample the full range, from Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) for a Costa Rican breakfast to sipping down the national drink of Nicaragua, the refreshing Macuá cocktail made with white rum and fruit juices. Fresh fruit is abundant and delicious with papaya, coconut, pineapples, bananas and watermelon perennial favourites – something we keep an eye out for when visiting local markets. The local chocolate is delicious too, something you can experience during a chocolate tour in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Costa Rica).

Nicaragua and Costa Rica also have a rich arts and craft culture, with a special emphasis on woodwork, pottery and handmade jewellery. Nicaraguan hammocks are a popular favourite! Rather than shopping in larger tourist shops we recommend checking out the small morning markets that often feature the work of local craftspeople, our favourite being the Masaya Craft Market we visit on day two of this trip.

Our cycling trips usually have a maximum group size of 16 to minimise our impact on the smaller communities we cycle through in Central America. We believe this is the perfect size for a cycling trip in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama while respecting the capabilities of the destinations we visit. Overtourism is an issue we are very conscious of and we are taking measures to ensure our impact on the communities we visit and their environment is our top priority.

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles for Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40ft shipping containers that Bicycles for Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence.

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