Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua with a rental car

21 days - from € 6,100 per person

family trip - self-drive - off the beaten track

  • Drive past the continent's most beautiful colonial cities: Antigua, Granada and León
  • Photograph the impressive Mayan temples surrounded by rainforest in the cradle of the Mayan civilization
  • Get a taste of the Caribbean atmosphere in Livingston and visit the successful Ak'Tenamit children's project
  • Discover the Pompeii of Maya culture at Joya de Cerén in El Salvador
  • Enjoy the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and howler monkeys in the fishing village of San Juan del Sur

Travel itinerary

Day 1: Amsterdam – Guatemala city – Antigua 

Your Unique Journey by rental car through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua starts today. You will depart from Amsterdam with your intercontinental flight to Guatemala city. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by our local staff and taken to your hotel in Antigua. Antigua is a magical and fascinating small city where you will feel like time has stopped. Around this town there are three volcanoes that provide a beautiful picture at any time of the day. Another characteristic image of Antigua are its cobbled streets. 
Overnight stay: El Convento Boutique Hotel | bed & breakfast

Day 2: Antigua 

Today you have time to explore Antigua by yourself. All the sights are within walking distance and therefore it is very easy to discover this colonial town. Visit the many ruins, the local market, the cathedral and the various churches scattered throughout the town. The park is a great place to sit on a bench and enjoy everything that is happening around you. In addition, there are many cozy bars and restaurants where delicious Guatemalan dishes, but also various international dishes are served. In the evening there is plenty of fun around the Parque Central, many bars are open where you can have a drink or possibly can go salsa dancing. TIP! The banana bread of Bakery Doña Luisa Xicotencatl (4a calle oriente #12) is highly recommended and loved by both locals and tourists. Every day around 2 p.m. the freshly baked breads, which are more like cake, are sold. If you are there on time you can buy it warm and eat it in the central park! 
Overnight stay: El Convento Boutique Hotel | bed & breakfast

Day 3: Antigua – Cobán

(approx. 280 km | 8 hour drive) 
After breakfast your rental car will be delivered at the hotel. Today you will drive from Antigua to Cobán. Cobán is located between beautiful green forests and mountains covered with coffee plantations. This place is an excellent base for discovering the interesting flora and fauna. 
Overnight stay: Hotel Casa Gaia | bed & breakfast

Day 4: Cobán 

Today you have time to explore the area around your hotel. This region is known for the stalactite caves of Lanquín where you can make adventurous trips with candles. You can also view Semuc Champey, a geological wonder of nature where natural baths are the highlight. If you like walking, then El Biotopo del Quetzal is very nice to visit. This is a beautiful nature reserve where the national bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, can be seen.
Overnight stay: Hotel Casa Gaia | bed & breakfast

Day 5: Cobán – Petén

(approx. 300 km | 6 hour drive) 
Today you will travel to the Petén region, the largest region of Guatemala. Although this region covers as much as a third of the country, only 3% of the entire population lives here. It will therefore not surprise you that you will find here a lot of nature with a wide variety of flora and fauna. The region produces a lot of wood, chewing gum, oil, pepper and other agricultural products. But above all, this area is known as the cradle of Mayan civilization. You will stay in La Lancha. A great lodge located in the rainforest, not far from Tikal National Park. Because of the location you can do different activities from the lodge. You can go horseback riding, zip lining, canoeing, kayaking, boating and hiking through the rainforest or along the lake. 
Overnight stay: La Lancha | bed & breakfast

Day 6: Petén 

In the morning you will drive to the national park of Tikal where you will meet your guide for a guided tour. Tikal or Tik'al was one of the largest cities of the Maya at the time of the Classical Period. It was not until 1848 that it was rediscovered by a team of Guatemalan explorers. The first large-scale archaeological excavations began in the 1950s. In 1979 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here you will visit the ancient Maya city with your guide and you will learn a lot about the history of the Maya people of Guatemala. You will have lunch in a restaurant in the park. Afterwards you will drive back to your hotel by yourself.
Overnight stay: La Lancha | bed & breakfast

Day 7: Petén - Rio Dulce

(approx. 230 km | 4 hour drive) 
Today you get back in the car and drive to Rio Dulce. The river that runs from Lake Izabal to the Atlantic Ocean was once part of an important Mayan route. Today, Rio Dulce is a good destination to relax and enjoy the surroundings of tropical jungle and rich wild life. 
Overnight stay: Nana Juana | bed & breakfast

Day 8: Rio Dulce

Today you will travel by boat over the Rio Dulce to the town of Livingston where your English speaking guide will introduce you to a completely different part of Guatemala. Along the way you will visit Ak' Tenamit, a project that was started to provide the local Maya people with primary and secondary school education. Because many Maya children have to help their parents in the fields and live very far from the inhabited world in the mountains, they often don’t get an education with which they can achieve something in their adult life in the modern world. In this project the Maya children learn how to take care of themselves and their (future) families. It is impressive to see how much this project has achieved in recent years. The tour ends in Livingston, surrounded by jungle and mangrove forests. The people of the Garífuna, are the inhabitants of this village. The Garífuna is an ethnic group descended from a mixture of Indians and Africans. The rhythmic influences of the African culture, make you feel like you are in the Caribbean for a while.
Overnight stay: Nana Juana | bed & breakfast

Day 9: Rio Dulce – Copán

(approx. 260 km | 6 hour drive) 
Today you will drive from Rio Dulce across the border to Copán in Honduras. Copán is also known as the Paris of the Mayan ruins. In the center of the cozy town with the same name is, as in almost all Spanish settlements, the Parque Central located. The friendly locals enjoy the sun and they are selling handicrafts in the market stalls. The pleasant atmosphere invites you to stroll around the square. The houses have characteristic red roofs and the cobbled streets make it even more charming. 
Overnight stay: Hacienda San Lucas | bed & breakfast

Day 10: Copán 

After breakfast you will drive to the ruins of Copán, just outside the town. Here you will meet your guide who will guide you through the ruins of Copán. The ruins were discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio. The city was abandoned in the early 10th century, but this very important Mayan site was excavated no earlier than the 19th century. In 1980 Copán became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today you will learn more about these ruins and enjoy a delicious lunch in between. After the tour, you will drive back to your hotel.
Overnight stay: Hacienda San Lucas | bed & breakfast

Day 11: Copán – Suchitoto

(approx. 230 km | 7 hour drive) 
Today will be a long day. You will drive from Copán in Honduras to Suchitoto in El Salvador. Once you arrive in Suchitoto you will notice that you will go back in time. The colonial town that overlooks the lake of Suchitlan is characterized by the typical buildings, cobblestones streets and the whitewashed church. Adjust your pace and let your rhythm be determined by the whistle of the birds that populate the streets and the little square. Enjoy a walk through the cobbled streets or taste some local dishes such as pupusa. 
Overnight stay: Los Almendros de San Lorenzo | bed & breakfast

Day 12: Suchitoto – El Cuco

(approx. 200 km | 4.5 hour drive) 
After breakfast you drive on to a beautiful beach of El Salvador. The coastline here is more erratic and this region is not yet crowded by tourists. The hotel where you will stay, Los Mangos, is situated on a cliff from where you have a spectacular view over the beach with the same name and the Pacific Ocean. The beach is easy to reach by stairs and it is a great place if you want to rest for a while. 
Overnight stay: Los Mangos | bed & breakfast

Day 13: El Cuco 

Today is scheduled off so you can enjoy this beautiful place. Use the day to relax at the beach or pool. You can also rent a surfboard here and try to catch some nice waves. If desired, it is even possible to take surf lessons at the surf school. At the restaurant of the hotel you can eat excellent dishes. And do you want to get away from your stay? Down at the beach there is another small hotel with a bar/restaurant where you can go. 
Overnight stay: Los Mangos | bed & breakfast

Day 14: El Cuco – León

(approx. 340 km | 8 hour drive) 
You have a long day on the road today. After breakfast you drive towards the city of León in Nicaragua. On the way you will have to cross the border twice. First you cross the border with Honduras and then the border with Nicaragua. Although León is not the official capital, the city is still seen as a historical, cultural and religious capital. In Léon, the impressive cathedral with the tomb of the great poet Ruben Darío is the center of the city. Throughout the city there are many churches, each with a unique decor. You will also find many interesting museums and a beautiful university. 
Overnight stay: Hotel El Convento | bed & breakfast

Day 15: León 

Do you like a little adventure? Then a great day is waiting for you. You will go sandboarding/ volcano boarding off the famous Cerro Negro volcano. In the early morning you leave with your rental car to the foot of the Cerro Negro volcano, where you will meet your guide. From here the hike starts up to about 700 meters above sea level. Walking over the lava bed you will reach the crater, where you will encounter the different natural colors, yellow, red, green and white. These colors are revealed by the constant escape of gas. From here you can see the volcanic chain leading to the Pacific Ocean. Once upstairs, you will receive a technical explanation on how best to descend from the volcano. You will receive protective clothing and under supervision you will make a great descent down over the fine volcanic sand. In the meantime you will make several stops where the guide will tell you more about the history of the volcano. Once you have arrived downstairs, you will drive back to your hotel by yourself. 
Overnight stay: Hotel El Convento | bed & breakfast

Day 16: León – San Juan del Sur

(approx. 230 km | 5 hour drive)  
After breakfast you get in your rental car and drive to the village of San Juan del Sur. This village on the Pacific coast was 10 years ago still a hamlet where the daily rhythm was determined by the daily fishing. This changed when a few years ago some surfers found their way to the picturesque bays near San Juan del Sur to control the beautiful waves. Slowly but surely some hotels came and travelers found their way here looking for an idyllic spot on the west coast of Nicaragua. Today, San Juan del Sur still has the charm and laidback atmosphere of a few years ago. You will stay at Morgan's Rock, one of the most beautiful resorts in Nicaragua, located in beautiful surroundings. Sometimes you will be woken up in the morning by the sound of howler monkeys playing in a nearby tree or by the singing of special native bird species, while you hear the Pacific Ocean in the background. 
Overnight stay: Morgan's Rock | bed & breakfast

Day 17: San Juan del Sur 

Today is scheduled off so that you can relax and unwind. The advantage of this area is that you can not only enjoy the sun and the sea, but also be active. Not only on or in the water, because in the surrounding landscape you can make lovely walks, for example. The resort has a few excellent and very enthusiastic guides who will be happy to take you on a voyage of discovery, so that you can learn more about the special flora and fauna. 
Overnight stay: Morgan's Rock | bed & breakfast

Day 18: San Juan del Sur – Granada 

(approx. 110 km | 2.5 hour drive) 
Today you will have a short ride planned. After breakfast you will drive to your hotel in Granada. This city is known for its many historical events and is beautifully located next to the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua. Granada was for a long time the most important city in Nicaragua and the city is full of architecture from colonial and neoclassical times. The Spanish influences can be found in the colorful houses and monuments. 
Overnight stay: Hotel Plaza Colón | bed & breakfast

Day 19: Granada

You can visit the city by yourself on this day. Stroll through the historic center and see all the highlights, such as the cathedral, La Casa de los Tres Mundos, El Convento San Francisco and the churches La Merced and Xalteva. The pastel-colored cottages and stately classical buildings invite you to take a long walk, with a beautiful sunset at the end of Lake Nicaragua. Another fun activity is a boat trip on Lake Nicaragua. Due to eruptions of the Mombacho volcano, more than 300 islets have formed in the lake. A boat trip takes you along the various islands, including the monkey island, where you will see the monkeys that live here. With your rental car you can also visit the various surrounding villages, such as Pueblos Blancos, where witchcraft used to be practiced. In San Juan del Oriente it is nice to visit a local pottery factory and get a beautiful demonstration. In the village of Catarina you will find wood and bamboo everywhere and you can see how people weave baskets. From the viewpoint at the end of the village you can see the volcanic lagoon with its clear blue water. From here you have a beautiful view over Granada and Lake Nicaragua.
Overnight stay: Hotel Plaza Colón | bed & breakfast

Day 20: Granada – Managua – Amsterdam 

Today you will drive from your hotel in Granada to Managua airport. Here you will drop off your rental car and board your intercontinental flight back to Amsterdam. You will arrive here the next day.  

Day 21: Amsterdam

You will arrive in Amsterdam today.



From € 6,100 per person

  • Based on 2 persons traveling together
  • Depending on time of booking, availability of the accommodations and the period of travel


  • 19 hotel overnight stays, meals as mentioned
  • 18 days rental car (Cat. Kia sportage or similar alternative) incl. basic insurance from Antigua (Guatemala) with drop-off in Managua (Nicaragua)
  • all transfers and excursions as stated
  • our backup 24/7; locally and in the Netherlands
  • extensive travel documents package with small attention

Not included:

  • international flights, if you wish, we can reserve these for you
  • early check-in / late check-out, based on availability, this is sometimes provided by the hotel. If you want to be sure that you have this, ask us about the additional cost.
  • (Dutch) public contribution Calamity fund; € 2.50,- per booking
  • SGR contribution of € 5,- per person per booking
  • travel and cancellation insurance

Request travel proposal

Would you like to make this journey yourself? We can arrange the itinerary for you, but we are also happy to put together a programme based on your wishes and ideas. Do not hesitate to contact us. Send an e-mail to info@sapapanatravel.nlcall us on +31 73 610 62 04 or ask us to plan your trip. We are happy to help.

Request travel proposal 

Back to luxury holiday Guatemala

Back to luxury holiday Honduras

Back to luxury holiday El Salvador

Back to luxury holiday Nicaragua

More inspiration - Read our blogs