Panama fulfilled all our dreams as the final destination of our adventures in Central America. We visited the magnificent coffee landscapes of Boquete, the paramount metropolis Panama City, filled with contrast between slum and skyscrapers and ended the Latin American leg of our journey on the blissful San Blas Islands. We didn’t get to see all of Costa Rica, but both the capital San José and the surfing town of Puerto Viejo had a lot to offer.
The San Blas Islands of Panama = paradise.
The 365 islands are home to the Kuna Indians, whose lifestyle is still very close to pre-colonial times.
There’s not much else to do than to simply enjoy life.
The islands vary a lot in size.
As most indigenous people, the Kunas are unfortunately not resistant to Western temptations.
But there is still a long way to resorts and internet connections.
A local girl on the coffee farm Dos Jefes in Boquete.
Coffee cherries dry in the sun.
A month in Nicaragua took us through the coffee farms and highlands of Matagalpa and Diriamba, the cities of Leon, Granada and Managua as well as the beaches of San Juan del Sur, Ometepe and the Corn Islands; each destination more spectacular than the last.
I hope that the following 23 photos can do the natural beauty of the country some justice.
Purple sky on Big Corn Island, an island 70 kilometres east of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
Bay of San Juan del Sur.
The rolling hills of Matagalpa. While taking this picture, a guy on a motorcycle rolled up to us and started asking questions about my camera. All was good until we realized he carried a gun. I’m sure he meant nothing by it and he wasn’t directly threatening, but we took no chances and fled the scene as fast as we could!
Also Matagalpa, this time without any guns.
Splendid sunset in Granada. Every 15 minutes the huge church bell rung right next to us, forcing us out unto a ledge with our fingers in our ears!
Tranquilo vibes in San Juan.
Strange, almost monochrome sunset in the highlands of Matagalpa.
The road to the top of Cerro Negro, one of Nicaragua’s many active volcanoes.
Water hammocks on Little Corn Island, Big Corn Island’s smaller brother.
Volcanoes everywhere! The white tipped one erupted just a few weeks ago.
Early morning on Little Corn. To get to the beach before sunrise, I walked through the jungle in complete darkness, the path only illuminated by the moon.
Finally a clear view of Volcán Concepción on Ometepe, which was always covered in clouds.
Walking past this sleeping man, I couldn’t resist taking a photo.
The contrast between the volcano and its green surroundings were like day and night.
I should probably have worn a gas mask…
Paradise views from the house below.
Thanks to the help of a local boy, we managed to find and ascend the highest point on the island.
The Corn Islands are different in many ways to mainland Nicaragua. For one, most people are not of neither indian nor hispanic descent and almost everyone speak english (with a thick creole accent!)
Long exposure moon + beach photography.
A final good morning.
And good night! Nicaragua had everything, yet always left me yearning for just a little bit more.
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. It is also the only country in the region without a Caribbean coastline. But what it misses in size and coastline it surely makes up for in sheer beauty and hospitality.
Friendly people are abundant in El Salvador, along with freshly grilled pupusas (the national staple dish frequently served everywhere), volcanoes, steep roads carving through lush landscapes and lots of coffee. There is a sort of inexplicable positive atmosphere everywhere and I truly loved our time in the country.
A Pacific sunset to die for. Truly one of the most stunning scenes I’ve ever witnessed!
Colored houses are everywhere in Central America. This is the cozy town of Suchitoto.
Walking into a restaurant, I had no idea this would be the view from our table.
[caption id="attachment_1955" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] This one overlooking thousands of coffee trees as well as the border of Guatemala.
The capital, San Salvador.
The stained glass of Iglesia El Rosario.
Street after street filled with markets.
I’ll be back.
Coming into Belize from Guatemala it felt like entering another continent. Indigenous Maya people standing less than 5 feet were suddenly switched out with 7-foot-tall Snoop Lion look-a-likes and Spanish was suddenly rare, with a funky, Caribbean-style “Creole” English suddenly filling the streets. Yah man!
To be honest, it was a nice change – and even though punctuality isn’t an important concept in Guatemala, taking it slow took on a new meaning in Belize. There’s no rush – the ocean will be there tomorrow, too.
(We visited Caye Caulker, Belize City and Belize Zoo.)
Guatemala is a gorgeous country. It has the highest peaks of Central America, some of the most beautiful lakes, an abundance of colourful clothing and incredibly varied landscapes.
Though not easy, I have tried to capture my experience of the country with the following 21 photos:
After a quick stop in Guatemala City, our first destination in Guatemala was Antigua. Here one of the main streets is seen with a towering volcano in the background – strangely only showing itself for a few minutes a day (due to clouds).
Whenever it revealed itself, I popped out my camera!
One of the many sights of the city.
The cobbled streets and colonial houses surely added to the city’s undeniable charm.
Counting that dough.
From Antigua we climbed the volcano Pacaya with great views all around.
And here she is, Pacaya. Still active – last eruption in 2014 – counting at least 23 since the Spanish invasion.
Two girls walking away from Guatemala in Santiago by Lake Atitlán.
After Atitlán we visited the wonderful coffee farm San Jose La Laguna Estate. Here the owner, Roberto, looks down memory lane.
The road to Semuc Champey from Antigua was rough and bumpy, but not entirely without its rewards.
The million dollar view!
We stayed at Greengo’s, which was quite an experience by itself.
Next up was Tikal with its towering temples. This one is called Temple I.
While visiting Tikal we stayed at the small island of Flores. An unexpected pearl.
Our Guatemalan travels rightfully ended with a fantastic sunset. Next up: Belize!