Spotlight on: Central America
Spot tropical birds and monkeys on the banks as you cruise up Panama’s famous canal before exploring the humid forests of Soberania National Park, which are teeming with fascinating bird-life. Further northwest, discover the Caribbean charm of the largely undiscovered Bocas Del Toro islands. Snorkellers exploring their clear, sparkling waters will spot stunning exotic fish and maybe even dolphins.
Learn about cocoa on the chocolate trail at Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve and watch the formidable Arenal Volcano’s almost perfect conical peak spew a stream of ash and steam, before marvelling at the sight of glowing lava rolling down its slopes at night. You might find toucans, macaws, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles and frogs while exploring Tortuguero National Park by boat or on foot, while the elusive jaguar and resplendent quetzal hide among dense vegetation in Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.
Intrepid travellers will relish exploring Nicaragua’s spectacular scenery. Lake Nicaragua’s Ometepe Island is home to two spectacular volcanoes, Granada is riddled with colonial architecture and Léon is full of enchanting churches and fascinating museums.
This mountainous nation is home to Lake Atitlan, a volcanic crater lake spectacularly framed by three volcanoes. It was once described by writer Aldous Huxley as ‘the most beautiful lake in the world’, and is surrounded by charming villages where you can visit traditional markets and take craft workshops.
Barter with Indian traders at Chichi’s vibrant market, and witness captivating religious ceremonies at the stunning church of Santo Tomas. Don’t miss a visit to the ruins of the Mayan city of Tikal, full of ancient pyramids and temples and surrounded by thick jungle.
Boasting the longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, Belize is also known for its ancient Mayan sites and tropical rainforests teeming with wildlife. At the ruins of Xunantunich, climb to the top of the highest temple — the supposedly haunted El Castillo — for panoramic views of Cayo and nearby Guatemala.