When the thought of traveling to Central America comes about, you’re probably imagining hiking through lush rainforests, climbing ancient temples that nearly touch the sky, and wandering across sandy beaches next to clear blue water. But with so many incredible sites to see in Central America, travelers flock to the most popular destinations, such as Saint Elena in Costa Rica or the bustling Panama City. To avoid the crowds and still hike through all of the beautiful wonders Central America has to offer, here are five off the beaten path hikes in Central America.
1. Tajumulco Volcano, Guatemala
Tajumulco Volcano, also known as Volcán Tajumulco, is the highest point in Central America at 4,222 meters above sea level. Conquering this extinct volcano is no walk in the park: six kilometers up, then six kilometers down is not for the faint of heart. However, this 2-3-day hike can easily be defeated for hiking enthusiasts from all walks of life. When climbing Tajumulco Volcano, you’ll adventure through rolling farmlands, misty pine forests, and finally astounding views of neighboring volcanoes from the very top. You’ll witness a breathtaking sunrise at the summit of Tajumulco, and bearing through the thin air and low temperatures will be well worth the climb.
2. Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras
If climbing the tallest volcano in Central America isn’t for you, Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras offers both easy and difficult trails, so hikers of every level can enjoy this area. Pico Bonito is located on the Caribbean side of Honduras, allowing visitors to venture through the tropical rain forest next to the shore or hike up the Nombre de Dios Mountains. While most travelers visit The Lodge at Pico Bonito to see exotic tropical birds, such as the scarlet macaw, or to hike up one of the private trails, adventuresome travelers looking for hidden waterfalls should find the Rio Zacate Waterfall. Hikers can follow a small trail and a steep climb up to the Rio Zacate Waterfall while enjoying the clear blue water of the Zacate River that flows alongside the trail.
3. Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua
Also known as the “Oasis of Peace,” Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua provides travelers with history, unique activities, and of course amazing sights you won’t see anywhere else. Isla Ometepe is located within the great lake of Nicaragua, isolating the two volcanoes from the rest of the country. The island contains fertile volcanic soil from its volcanoes Concepción and Maderas, as well as pre-Columbian artifacts from the Chorotega, Nahuatl, and Mayans. Travelers with a passion for archaeology can find many petroglyphs and stone idols in the basalt boulders of Isla Ometepe and truly experience one of the greatest rock art regions in the world. Tourism is just beginning on this small island, so backpackers and hikers alike can explore the serene, natural wonders of Isla Ometepe away from the masses.
4. San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Hidden in the Talamanca range, San Gerardo de Dota holds a number of winding trails for hikers to explore Costa Rica’s beautiful mountains. The Talamanca mountain range rises 12,000 feet above sea level, making it a bit easier of a hike than climbing up volcanoes. The Savegre River flows nearby with trails leading to the San Gerardo Waterfall, and rare hummingbird species and the resplendent Quetzal hide away in the forests. San Gerardo is undeveloped currently, meaning there’s plenty of quiet hiking trails that are perfect for bird watching and simply enjoying nature.
5. Baru Volcano, Panama
And last but not least for our biggest adventure-seekers out there: the Baru Volcano. The Volcán Barú is the tallest mountain in Panama, reaching up to 2,474 meters. This hike takes experienced hikers 5-6 hours to reach the summit. The unique view of both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea makes the steep climb worthwhile, as does the journey up and down through bright green forests and rocky, breathtaking cliffs.
If you’re interested in these off-the-beaten path hikes in Central America, or if you’d like to learn more about what Central America has to offer, contact our travel consultants at 706-549-1164 or request a consultation online!