5 Reasons You Should Travel to Central America

(Originally published at KSL.com)

When planning their vacations, most Americans stay within the country, believing that a trip overseas would be too expensive, too complicated or too dangerous. But an exciting foreign adventure is closer and more affordable than you think.

Central America has so much to offer to U.S. travelers and a thrilling overseas trip is within reach of even modest travel budgets. Here are just five of the many reasons to consider Central America for your next vacation.

Real-life jungle adventures

Throughout Central America you can experience true rain forests with all the wildlife you could dream of. In the cloud forests of Costa Rica you can find sloths, three species of endangered monkeys, toucans, iguanas, Mexican porcupines and much more.

Exploring the rainforest canopy surrounding Arenal Volcano

Exploring the rainforest canopy surrounding Arenal Volcano

Hiking through the jungles of Guatemala you will discover coatamundis, orioles, oscillated turkeys that look more like peacocks and you may even see a jaguar. Jungle experiences range from easy strolls on paved paths to sailing hundreds of feet in the air down an exhilarating zip-line through the canopy.

On our Central American adventures our family has climbed an active volcano, swum through waterfalls and been awoken at midnight by howler monkeys outside our window. Central American rainforests offer something for everyone.

Ancient Mayan ruins

Ziggurats on the main city square at Tikal

Ziggurats on the main city square at Tikal

From the enormous and sprawling temples at Tikal to the towering stelae of Copal, Central America has many ways to experience the remains of the ancient Mayan Empire. Many sites are painstakingly reconstructed and preserved, some are still awaiting excavation, but all inspire the imagination. Surveying 100 miles of rainforest from the top of a 300-foot-tall ancient monument is an experience you will never forget.

Beautiful beaches

There’s a reason the beaches in this region are famous. Every country offers a different experience and travelers can customize their travel to suit their own style.

Manuel Antonio beach, Costa Rica.

Manuel Antonio beach, Costa Rica.

From windsurfing to scuba diving, from wide stretches of yellow sand in Costa Rica to tiny coves hidden in the rainforest on the Caribbean Coast, Central America has a beach that will please everyone.

Incredible scenery

Even aside from the rain forests and beaches, Central America offers astonishing views at almost every turn. Towering volcanoes, pristine lakes and rivers, awe-inspiring waterfalls, rugged gorges and remote, picturesque villages make it a photographer’s paradise.

Waterfall in Fortuna

Waterfall in Fortuna, Costa Rica

Low cost

Your vacation dollar goes farther in Central America. Flights from the U.S. are usually very affordable, and the costs for accommodations, food and attractions run well below the usual cost for U.S. or European vacations. And because Central America is so close, flights are short and jet-lag is almost non-existent. All of this means you can stay longer and do more.

Free canoes at the hotel!

Free canoes at the hotel! Rio Dulce, Guatemala

So for your next trip, head south. Whether you visit Costa Rica, Belize or any of the other amazing countries in the region, your vacation will definitely be a memorable one.

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