Booking a holiday with a tour operator is convenient for those who don’t enjoy planning their own travels. It’s also a great option for first time travelers who find the idea of traveling solo too daring. You’re sure to meet a bunch of interesting people plus you don’t have to worry much about arranging hotels, transport or activities. But there’s plenty of tour packages out there and you may not know where to start. So here’s a roundup of the best package holidays to book in 2017 across South America and Central America.
I’m the biggest fan of Central America for several reasons. One of them being the diversity you will encounter from country to country, region to region, town to town – and all of it in manageable distances. So you can cover most Central American countries within only a month!
(Tours listed in order of duration)
8 Day Original (Cuba)
Duration: 8 days. If your time is limited, and you are more interested in Cuba’s culture and its people than beach resorts, then we highly recommend this 8 day tour of Cuba. In one short week, its an optimised way to sample some of the most interesting areas of Cuba within a day’s drive from Havana. The tour takes your from the bustling and vibrant Havana, to the historic Santa Clara, and gives you the chance to experience the more traditional and rural sides of Cuba, with stays in Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Vinales. These places are common favourites for travellers who have come to Cuba seeking authentic cultural experiences. While Trinidad presents us with beautiful white sand beaches, colonial architecture, waterfalls, and a charming village atmosphere, Vinales offers stunning mountainous scenery, sprawling tobacco fields and friendly locals. A local Cuban tour guide accompanies the group throughout, and accommodation is in the homes of Cuban families.
You can find the 15 day tour here: 15 Day Original
The Tropical Retreat (Costa Rica)
Duration: 9 days. This is an adventure combo like no other! Visit the gorgeous Costa Rica and in just 9 days have a relaxin’ and action-filled journey! You will go zip lining in one of the best zip lining forests in the world, go on a volcano hike, hot springs dip, beautiful beaches and much more. If you’re not looking for a traditional trip, then this journey with its action, wild activities and beach lovin’ is the perfect combination for you!
Duration: 11 days. This chilled out 10-day trip is all about the Caribbean vibe: white-sand beaches, reggae music, hammock siestas and serene turquoise water. Journey down to the Rastafarian town of Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica by rafting down the extravagant Rio Pacuare, named 1 of the 5 most beautiful rivers in the world by National Geographic! We then settle in the wonderland of Bocas del Toro in Panama to experience everything that the Caribbean has to offer. There’s also some stellar diving and snorkeling in the unbelievably clear water, as well as very underrated waves for surfing on the picturesque Caribbean beaches. And no trip through the Caribbean is complete without hopping on a yacht and gliding across the crystal waters with a beverage of your choice in hand.
Duration: 13 days. Start and end in Managua! With the Christmas & new year tour 10 days in Nicaragua – The Final Fiesta, you have a 13 day tour package taking you through Managua, Nicaragua and 3 other destinations in Nicaragua. 10 days in Nicaragua – The Final Fiesta includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport.
Mayan Sun–Southbound (Cancun to Guatemala)
Duration: 16 days. Find your paradise somewhere between the blazing Mexican sun and the cool Guatemalan highlands on this 16-day odyssey. Wander Antigua’s cobblestone streets and its local markets before experiencing the diverse beauty of Lake Atitlan and its indigenous villages. Geared to the adventurer wanting to capture some of Central America’s finest highlights, this trip will ensure that you really pack some punch into those postcards home.
Platano Ways via Oaxaca (from San Jose) (Costa Rica to Mexico)
Duration: 19 days. Travel freely and explore the world exactly as you have always dreamed! This Hop-On Hop-Off bus passes are a flexible and independent way to travel on different types of transport (public buses, shuttle vans, ferries, trains and planes) to exciting destinations with daily departures and the flexibility of unlimited changes to your departure dates anytime. Enjoy tons of experiences encompassing a variety of adventure, cultural, historical and natural activities. There are no tour leaders and no accommodation included. We leave this decision up to you. We are always ready to assist you with recommendations, accommodation and anything you need.
Cielito Lindo Express Ways (from Cancun) (Mexico, Belize & Guatemala)
Duration: 21 days. Travel freely and explore the world exactly as you have always dreamed! This Hop-On Hop-Off bus passes are a flexible and independent way to travel on different types of transport (public buses, shuttle vans, ferries, trains and planes) to exciting destinations with daily departures and the flexibility of unlimited changes to your departure dates anytime. Enjoy tons of experiences encompassing a variety of adventure, cultural, historical and natural activities. There are no tour leaders and no accommodation included. The tour operator can assist you with recommendations, accommodation and anything you need.
Antigua to Panama City (Guatemala to Panama)
Duration: 28 days. Visit the best markets in Central America, meet friendly local people and travel past untouched jungle, winding tropical rivers, towering mountains and active volcanoes. History comes alive at the ancient Mayan ruin of Copán where you’ll learn the myths and legends surrounding this ancient culture. Scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming and hiking are all possible before time to relax on sun-kissed Caribbean islands and enjoy the scenery at glistening lakes.
Central American Journey (Mexico to Costa Rica)
Duration: 32 days. Escape the resorts and discover something extraordinary in Central America. Visit six countries on this adventure and experience mighty ruins, clear Caribbean waters, rainforests, and breathtaking scenery along the way. Explore indigenous Mayan villages and meet locals for an immersive experience that few travellers get to know. While you’re free to choose your own adventure, your accommodation and transportation are included. Our expert CEOs will help you make the most of your time. Take a trip that’s packed with all the things you need and nothing you don’t; 32 days of maximum adventure at minimum cost.
Complete Central America (Mexico to Panama incl. Cuba)
Duration: 65 days. Discover the heart of Mexico’s Aztec, Zapotec, Mayan and Spanish cultures on this journey spanning ruins, pueblos and beaches. Arrive in Mexico and travel through the mad metropolis of Mexico City to the relaxed beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. Then explore the charming streets of Havana, where old-time American automobiles, richly-scented Cuban cigars and an eclectic tapestry of architectures evoke a colourful past;Next is the best of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. From beautiful black-sand beaches to tropical forests alive with jungle melodies, this pocket of Central America is something of a natural paradise. Whether you’re shopping in colonial Antigua, exploring the intricately carved structures at Copan, relaxing on the coast of El Salvador, taking a walk through Monteverde’s enchanting cloud forest, or standing in awe of the Panama canal, you’ll get a wonderful insight into Central America during this incredible adventure.
I’ve yet to fully explore South America but the continent continues to top my travel wish list. The countries are great for 2 week trips exploring one country at a time but it’s popular for longer trips like two or three months.
Duration: 4 days. Experience the true lush Amazon jungle in person as you travel to Puerto Maldonado and the Madre de Dios River. Participate in a diverse selection of exciting activities that will get you to interact with nature and see a wild variety of native flora and fauna.
Duration: 8 days. Get an insight into the wonderful South American country of Ecuador on this week-long journey. Discover the culture and charisma of the famed Otavalo Markets, explore the incredible Amazon while guests of a local family, relax in the laidback town of Banos and soak in the charm of Quito, one of South America’s most beguiling capitals.
Galapagos Venture (Ecuador)
Duration: 9 days. Take a thrilling sojourn around the highlights of the unique flora- and fauna-rich islands of the Galapagos. From rubbing shoulders with prehistoric-looking giant tortoises and marine iguanas, to gazing up in wonder at the spectacular blue-footed boobies
synchronised fishing technique, the Galapagos offers the chance to see an abundance of rare creatures at close range. There are also heaps of opportunities to explore the underwater world of the Galapagos by snorkelling and diving in the surrounding waters – usually in the good company of playful sea lions and sea turtles. With just the right amount of relaxation, adventure and wildlife-filled awe, this Galapagos Venture is the way to see the very best of the Galapagos.
There is also a shorter tour for travelers on a budget:
Duration: 7 days. Cruise between the volcanic islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal and get up close to these animals as you wander alongside giant tortoises in the highlands, glide through azure waters with sea turtles and make friends with sea lions as blue-footed boobies and frigates land on volcanic rocks next to you. You’re sure to feel like a professional naturalist on this unforgettable trip to the Galapagos.
Torres to Ushuaia (Patagonia; Argentina & Chile)
Duration: 10 days. This short Overland Tour takes you to the “end of the world” Ushuaia, on an adventure encompassing picture-perfect landscapes and jam-packed with wildlife. Discover huge glaciers that drop ice into the water below and hike through the vast trails in Torres Del Paine NP watching condors swoop between the three granite towers that dominate the skyline.
Amazon to the Andes (Peru)
Duration: 12 days. This adventure offers up an intriguing combination of beauty and contrasts in scenery, wildlife, and cultures, whether you’re scanning the canopy for wildlife from the comfort of our intimate and exclusive G Lodge Amazon or climbing the ancient trail of the Incas to Machu Picchu, situated in the heavens of the Americas. Because we run our own treks, we can ensure the fair treatment of our porters and the quality of food and equipment which leaves you free to enjoy the beauty of the region.
Duration: 13 days. Haciendas dot coffee-covered hills, cobbled streets are flanked by colourful houses in colonial towns, and gentle waves lap beaches that meet with verdant jungles. This is Colombia, a vast country still largely undiscovered despite its amazing variety of landscapes and culture. On this journey from the Andes to the Caribbean we experience the contrasts between cosmopolitan Bogota, colourful Cartagena, and welcoming rural towns. After soaking up the atmosphere of Villa de Leyva and walking amid giant wax-palms in the the Zona Cafetera, we’ll learn what it takes to produce the finest coffee and finish off our Colombian experience with a relaxing stay on the Caribbean coast.
Patagonia Lake District (from El Calafate to Santiago) (Chile & Argentina)
Duration: 16 days. The Lake District offers a truly stunning view of Patagonia. See the many hues of colour reflecting of the Perito Moreno glacier as it cracks into the icy waters below. In Futaleufu you get the chance to try your hand at it’s many river based excursions before ending the adventure in Pucon where you can admire the picturesque Lake Villarica with volcano views in the distance
Duration: 17 days. Get your South American rush with other young travellers not afraid to embrace the new. You’ll kick off the adventure in sophisticated Buenos Aires before getting back to nature on day hikes at a working Uruguayan ranch. Marvel at Iguassu Falls, then hop a flight to Sao Paulo on your way to the Brazilian coast no gruelling bus ride means more time on the beach. We’ll wrap up in the party in Rio, where you’re free to embrace the carnival atmosphere from our centrally located Copacabana hotel.
South American Odyssey with Easter Island (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile)
Duration: 19 days. Start in Rio de Janeiro and end in Santiago! With the discovery tour South American Odyssey with Easter Island, you have a 19 day tour package taking you from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago and through Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and 8 other destinations in Latin America. South American Odyssey with Easter Island includes meals.
Coast to Coast Highlights (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru & Ecuador)
Duration: 40 days. Travelling from one side of South America to another we come across busy beaches, tropical jungles, ancient ruins and jagged mountains. Search for giant anacondas in the Pantanal Wetlands, learn about Inca culture in Cuzco and stand on the equator in Quito before culminating in Rio de Janeiro, one of the liveliest cities on Earth. This tour includes the Inca Trail Trek.
Andean Discoverer (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia & Peru)
Duration: 42 days. Starting this trip in sophisticated Santiago, extensively covering four extremely different and diverse countries, this tour encompasses Pacific breaks, pristine peaks and Bolivian potions! We follow the Andes up the continent, taking in stunning scenery, rugged canyons, blistering peaks and Inca territories. If you’ve got the time to spare, we’ll show you the adventure of a lifetime.
Rio to Lima Adventure (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru)
Duration: 51 days. If you have the time and can’t decide between Peru and Brazil, then see them both and pretty much everything in between on this 51-day extravaganza. Trek the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, cross the Bolivian Salt Flats, sip wine in Argentina, and hit the beach in Brazil. You’ll get plenty of energetic culture, the great outdoors, and the company of other young travellers to keep you moving. There’s time later to slow down, take the long road, and have an adventure while you can.
Which of these trips appeals to you most? Let me know in the comments 🙂