Where: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala - or more commonly referred to as "Xela", pronounced "Shella"
School: Celas Maya offers private classes with DELE accredited teachers. While you get personalized instruction, group outings run on a near-daily basis to help immerse yourself in the local culture and meet fellow classmates.
Cost: Studying in Guatemala was one of the most affordable places in Central or South America, based on my research. Contact the school for their latest rates. They also offer online courses.
Highest: Volcán San Cristóbal is Nicaragua's highest volcanic peak. Expect a steep, hot and barren climb.
Base yourself out of the city of León. Tierra Tour offers day trips with excellent guides, including the only female guide to climb volcanoes at the time I visited in 2016.
Jungle Trails: If you prefer a more lush climb, try Isla de Ometepe's Volcán Maderas. Expect a muddy and humid environment.
Base yourself at the comfortable Tococo Eco-Lodge where they can arrange a local guide. Their hanging chairs make for the perfect post-hike chill.
Option No. 1: Tikal and Yaxhá, Guatemala
Base yourself in the lovely town of Flores where multiple tour operators run shuttle buses to both sites. Tikal is much more famous and worth hiring a guide to uncover its many secrets. At the lesser-visited Yaxhá, stone temples rise through the foliage and the Greater Astronomical Complex is particularly renowned.
Option No. 2: Copán, Honduras
Daily shuttle buses run between Antigua and Guatemala City to the town of Copán Ruinas, twelve kilometres across the Honduras - Guatemala border. The owner of ViaVia offers insightful tours in the surrounding countryside while local guides will bring life to the ruins themselves.
Where: La Bastilla Ecolodge, Nicaragua highlands
La Bastilla trains young adults from the local region for a career in the tourism and agriculture industries. Their rich coffee is available at the main lodge whenever you need a dark cup of goodness. Trails meander through the coffee plantation and basic bungalows offer balconies with stunning views to calm your mind.
For a more family-focussed alternative, La Sombra has not only a coffee finca but a butterfly enclosure, guided night walks and other activities to energize your visit.
You can find more stories and tips on these and more destinations across Central America in Dust in My Pack. Pick up your copy at most online bookstores as a paperback or eBook.
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