There are many classic backpacking routes across the world: the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns; south-east Asia; inter-railing around Europe; the South American Andes, including the Inca Trail.
While these are all fine and well-trodden paths, perhaps you might like to consider something a bit different for your own adventure: Los Angeles to San Jose.
This American odyssey will take you to Unesco World Heritage Sites, incredible national parks, white-sand beaches and exotic cities, all while basking in the glorious sunshine of the Tropic of Cancer.
Flying into LA and out of San Jose – a permanent fixture of fun-filled adventure tours to Central America – is perfect from an accessibility point of view, and what you’ll experience between these two great cities is similarly ideal from an entertainment standing. Let’s review what those activities can entail!
The Baja California Peninsula
While the treasures of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula (Chichen Itza; the beaches of Cancun) are well advertised across the globe, the Baja California Peninsula – the long thin finger of land on Mexico’s north-west coast stretching from the US border down to ferry crossing with Mazatlan – is a little-known destination.
However, that does not mean it isn’t worth visiting – far from it. It’s traditional Baja pueblos, sprawling cactus forests and stunning beaches make this sun-soaked jaunt feel like a true Mexican adventure.
In both Mexico City and the aforementioned Yucatan Peninsula you’ll encounter the ancient relics of the Maya and pre-Columbians. Teotihuacan, Palenque, Chichen Itza and others all provide a fascinating insight into what life was like in this part of the world before the Europeans arrived in the 16th century.
Across the border in Guatemala is the stunning jungle infested Tikal archaeological site – one of the largest of its kind.
Caribbean and Pacific coasts
A great thing about visiting Central America is the chance to visit not one but two incredible coastlines in the space of a single trip.
Because it’s such a narrow strip of land, you can easily journey from one side to the other in the space of a day’s driving and experience the best of what each has to offer.
On the Pacific side, you’ll find great surf spots all along the coast, including in the Baja city of Ensenada, affectionately dubbed “the birthplace of surfing in Mexico”, while on the Caribbean side you can lose yourself on an idyllic island, surrounded by warm azure waters that are perfect for snorkelling. Caye Caulker in Belize is one such destination.
This part of the world is also blessed with some fine cities; from sprawling Mexico City, one of the biggest in the world, to Antigua in Guatemala, whose colonial buildings are surrounded by three 12,000 feet-plus volcanoes.
And let’s not forget our starting point, Los Angeles, a city famed for its celebrity residents, thriving film industry, trendy beaches and major sports teams, and our final destination, San Jose – the lively capital of Costa Rica – where you’ll find interesting museums, great restaurants and a good nightlife.
LA to San Jose really is a route that has it all – major tourists attractions and places off the beaten track; sun, sea and sand; and plenty of stunning scenery.