Central America cycling vacation

“Cycling through three incredible Central American countries from Nicaragua to Panama, this trip combines physical effort, sensational scenery and 100 percent support.”


Managua | Ride along the shore of Lake Nicaragua | Masaya Volcano National Park | Pueblos Blancos | Ometepe Island | San Juan del Sur | Costa Rica | Wildlife trip on the Tenorio River | Lake Arenal | La Fortuna | Cahuita | Bocas del Toro Islands | Santiago | Panama City | Panama Canal

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09 Nov 2019
US $4025
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23 Nov 2019
US $4025
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14 Dec 2019
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21 Dec 2019
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25 Jan 2020
US $4125
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Our top tip:
It's not the effort that's a challenge, it's the humidity - keep well hydrated at all times.
Trip type:
Small group, 6-16 adults (min. age 16), tour leader.
Activity level:
14 nights comfotable hotels with en suite rooms.
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available.
All breakfasts.
All accommodation, transport, listed activities, tour leader, cycling leader and support team.
Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Central America cycling vacation

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.


As a cycling vacation, this trip has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit within Costa Rica. Use of the bikes allows us to cover fairly large distances, while having very little adverse impact, like pollution and threat to wildlife. When we do use coaches for transfers, they come from a local business and run in compliance with Costa Rica’s strict anti-pollution laws, which require vehicles to be inspected biannually. Additionally, cycling also allows for easy access to the local population, shops and restaurants, which facilitates cultural exploration. We are able to raise local awareness for a kind of tourism which refuses to sacrifice the environment and real connections with people for financial gain.

Costa Rica is well known for being dedicated to conserving the environment, having long ago set aside protected areas for conservation activity. With the advent of adventure tourism in Nicaragua and Panama, both countries are now following the example set by Costa Rica. Our visits to National Parks and protected areas help to encourage and expand the ongoing effort to preserve and protect the environment. Our entry fees for Mayasa Volcano National Park go towards park maintenance, staff salaries, training programmes and the research and monitoring of the plethora of rich wildlife here. These funds also contribute towards the effort to increase the amount of land and sea given a protected status

Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Water is safe in the regions we cycle through and there is a large water tank installed at the rear of the support vehicle for easy access.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


Accommodation & Meals:
During our visit to Central America we will be using small, locally owned hotels and lodges, most set in quite remote settings. This helps in providing direct employment for many locals who would otherwise need to migrate to the large cities in search of employment. Using small lodgings allows for a better chance to meet local residents, as the hotels tend to be family run operations, which encourages interaction between guests and staff. Given that both Nicaragua and Panama are relatively new destinations for tourism, especially adventure tourism, the benefits generated by our arrivals can be readily appreciated. Where meals are provided, locally sourced ingredients are used as much as possible- for breakfast, this is usually fresh fruit, eggs and bread. Lunches and dinners are taken in locally owned cafes, restaurants and road stops, which offer the mutual benefit of local employment and a variety of authentic dishes e.g. Gallo pinto, seafood ceviche, plantain, empanadas or tamales stuffed with meat and cheese.

Leaders, guides, mechanics and drivers are all locals, thus benefiting the Costa Rican people, and offering guests direct contact with local knowledge of the regions we visit. On the itinerary, there is the opportunity to visit schools which would not routinely experience the benefits of tourism, due to their remote locations. If you plan to bring any gifts for local people, the children and teachers in the small rural schools along the way really appreciate pencils, pens and crayons. Other optional activities include surfing, snorkelling, dolphin watching and taking a dip in the geothermally heated springs. Each of these excursions benefits local communities by creating local employment in a sustainable part of the tourism industry.

Local Crafts & Culture:
All supplies are sourced locally, and the staff will encourage guests to use local shops for purchasing goods and souvenirs. In Masaya, Nicaragua we will visit the arts and crafts market, which allows the local artisans an opportunity to sell their goods directly, thus obtaining more cash, and allowing us to meet the actual producers, many of whom are women supporting large families.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

2 Reviews of Central America cycling vacation

4.5 out of 5 stars

In depth story review

“I think cycling vacations are a really great way to see the countryside as you aren’t seeing it from behind glass.”

Reviewed on 16 Apr 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cycling through three different terrains each with fabulous scenery in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Visiting the volcano at Charco Verde in Nicaragua. Swimming in the Caribbean Sea and the next day in the Pacific Ocean in Panama.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The cycling stages are not long but the routes are hilly and it is very hot and humid on many of the stages. Training - especially hills - is beneficial.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - we ate in small local restaurants and shopped at roadside stalls.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A great combination of cycling, scenery and relaxation. Recommended for anyone who would like an active vacation in Central American not focused solely
on beaches.

Reviewed on 15 Feb 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The surprisingly fast ride following the river rafting, up to 70kph, the scenery, the two islands that we spent 2 nights at each were lovely and to try something new the zip wires at La Fortuna (not mentioned in trip notes, but leader will book for you)

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack a dry t-shirt in your rucksack or leave on coach. When you have finished a riding stage and are soaking wet with perspiration (or rain), it is nice to have a dry top on if you are then going to have an hour or two coach transfer.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Roberto the leader and the 'bike boys' were great. Very helpful and so well organised, meals, room keys, boats, all appeared exactly on cue.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

As expected, another excellent trip. The pace was felt to be unexpectedly high but suited most of the group. The pace could be compared with a 'drop bars' trip and for most of the cycling could be done on a road bike. I 'survived' thanks to some pacing on some days and did enjoy it. I can do some hills at home now that I couldn't before ! The meals were very good, far better quality and lower priced than at home. The boat trips and ferry journeys added to the interest and my companions were great - all ages from 20 to 68 (me)

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