beach parking areas, next to shops, restaurants,
public parks, city squares and, most importantly, gas
stations, especially PEMEX in
When you stop at a commercial
make some purchases. If the storekeeper seems
pleasant, ask if it
would be all
right stay. They always said yes to us, and usually
went out or their
make us more comfortable. Meeting the locals in this
way was one of the
pleasures of our trip. The only occasion we were
declined permission to
overnight was at the Butterfly Farm in
On three occasions we stayed at
welcomed us and the kids were happy to talk to us
“gringos”. They were
about the RV and our lives. At this school in Santa
Ana, El Salvador,
we were shown around and invited to make
presentation in their
In most places it would not have been appropriate to offer money, so we entertained families with sculptured balloon animals and hats. We also had brand new soccer balls and ball point pens to hand out as well as packets of flower and vegetable seeds. Postcards and pictures of home were of great interest to our local hosts.
restaurants were the most relaxing places. This
is at the Christopher Columbus Hotel,
|Maps below show the route
our 99 day trip. Numbers refer to places camped (by
day). Each is
the Camping Places Appendix of 99
Days to Panama, complete with directions,
and maps in
cases. The following gives some of our recommendations
for the most
established or comfortable camping places. We
the maps with callouts to indicate camping places we
have discovered or
learned about since writing 99 Days
On the right is an overview of the entire trip.
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|We were bound for Central
America and were just passing through Mexico. An
reference for Mexican Camping is Traveler's Guide to
Mexican Camping: Explore
Belize With Your RV or Tent, by
Mike and Terri Church (www.rollinghomes.com).
the Gulf Coast. We crossed
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and headed for
Chiapas. We stayed in
trailer parks on the Emerald Coast, Lake Catemaco and
in San Cristobal
de Las Casas. Otherwise we found secure
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|Belize has several
campsites which are described by the Churches.
some nice boondocking sites, including on the beach at
Hopkins, at the
Baboon Sanctuary and by the river in Orange
Walk. Like the
other countries in Central America (except Panama), we
capital, Belize City. If you have time, visit the
Ambergris or Caye Caulker. There is great
and/or fishing off of the world's second longest barrier
great website for Belize information is www.Belize.com.
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Camping Places (numbered) in 99 Days to Panama and new camping places added in 2006
Guatemala Highlands (added3/06)
Fuentes Georginas Campsite
Corazon del Bosque
View from Hotel Tzanjuyu Campsite, Lake Atitlan
Auto Mariscos Sites with Hookups
Antigua, Guatemala Camping Places
is the first stop
south of Mexico, and in some ways it is the most
interesting country in
Central America. Over half the population is Maya,
country is full of interesting culture, markets,
volcanoes, Mayan ruins
and great scenery. Lake Atitlan is, in our
opinion, one of
the most beautiful places on earth! The country is
divided into roughly
two parts: Peten in the northeast, and the West.
You can stay in
more or less developed camp sites throughout the country
if you plan
properly. Entering from Belize your first stop
would be Tikal
Ruins where you stay in the in the National Park
where showers and
toilets are available. This is just a few hours from the
border. A few hours further is Sta. Elena, where
we found a good
boondock site, but if you want to get to a developed
camping area drive
a few more hours south to Poptun where Finca Ixobel is
eco-tourism resort. A few hours further is Rio Dulce,
where you will
Restaurant which has a few spots for smaller
RVs. Larger rigs
go to Planeta
Rio (formerly Hotel Ensenada) on the south side of
Bruno's in Rio Dulce
Rio Dulce, Guatemala (Day 87)
Bruno's is under the north end of the bridge over the river.There is a small slip road on the east side of the bridge where the north end of the bridge joins the town. Northbound, make a U-turn immediately over the bridge onto the slip road. About 50 yds. down you can pass under the bridge to reach a gated entrance for Bruno's.The clearance at this signposted underpass is too low for most RVs! Instead, continue about 300 yards towards the water where the bridge is higher from the ground, and backtrack. Comments: Brunos is a hangout for the yachting crowd.
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poorest country but we found it very pleasant and
Caribbean coast provides a nice change from the
highlands of Guatemala.
The small coastal town of Tela provides opportunities
for lounging on
the beach and partaking in some interesting tours.
Islands are reputed to have the best bargains for SCUBA
we could not fly out there with our dog so we stayed on
We are aware of two "RV Parks": one near La Ceiba (see Updates) and another near Trujillo. We didn't stay in either, but Kirkebride/Regan stayed in them. To reach these sites from either the Guatemalan or Nicaraguan border requires two days of travel, so some boondocking is required. However, nice boondocking sites are available near Guatemala at Copan, and near Tegucigalpa at Valle de Angeles.
|Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Texaco Gas Station (N14:50 W89:09) next to Archeological Park
water and electricity available
We entered the country from Guatemala at El Florido. This is the most popular route with tourists coming from Guatemala City to visit the famous Mayan Copan Ruins. A Texaco Gas station next to the ruins provides a convenient place to stay with electricity (behind the Coke machine) and running water (sometimes). You can walk to the ruins and into town from here.
|La Ceiba, Honduras
La Ceiba RV Park (N15:46 W86:52)
Courtesy of Kirkebride/Regan
water, electricity and dump available
This is just west of the town of La Ceiba. The park's sign is difficult to see on the main highway. There is a small sign that says "camping". Once you turn down the lane you have to go a long way (1 mile) to the RV park along a very narrow, at times, lane to get to it...there were lots of branches (Kathe Kirkebride lost her CB antenna on her 38' Class A). The owner is French Canadian. The dump spot had a pipe that was too small and made it difficult...there was water and power. Kirkebride and Regan left their rigs there while they took the ferry from La Ceiba to Roatan.
Christopher Columbus Hotel, Trujillo
We stayed here and played on the beach!
Campamento RV Park (N15:54 W85:59)
Courtesy of Kirkebride/Regan
In Trujillo you have to go through the town and then along the coast where there are many low wires and you have to be careful. Their lane has a lot of branches that have to be cut down in order for the larger rigs to get through without scratching the heck out of them. There is water if you have a long hose, but no power or dump...in a pinch you might be able to run a 110 cord to the restaurant for power. The site is right on the beach and is "well worth getting to."
Campamento Trujillo RV Park
Honduras (New, March2006)
Gualiqueme Hotel (N13:18.847, W87:11.487)
On CA-1 adjacent to Puente Choluteca
$20/night: pool, electricity, water fillup, internet (wi-fi)
You can park in their parking lot and run an extension about 100 ft to power. Our A/C cutout because of the voltage drop in our 100 ft 16 AWG chord, but it was fine when we moved closer and used our 50 ft 12 AWG chord (15 amps). You need A/C here, so the moral is to carry at least 100 ft of 12 AWG 15 amp chord. Longer is better but make sure it is rated at 15 amp. The pool is pleasant and wi-fi reached our rig. Plenty of water pressure to fill up too, but it is not cheap. Caravans stay here.
The Pool and Wi-Fi were Attractions at the Gualiqueme Hotel
||<return to top>|
|El Salvador is relatively
unexplored by tourists. We had visited once before
for a friend's
wedding and were royaly treated to the best of El
paid our respects to our friends on this trip and stayed
Marriot Hotel in San Salvador. We paid top dollar
for a first
class room for ourselves and our dog, but we could have
stayed in their
covered parking lot for a dollar (plus tips to the
Parking Garage at the Marriot Hotel in San Salvador
Costa del Sol (Updated
(East of the San Salvador Airport off of CA-2, the Littoral Highway)
The Costa del Sol is the major commericial beach area in El Salvador. Virtually all the beach front is privately owned and the opportunity to camp right on the beach is limited (see options below).
Hotel Tesoro Beach (N13:19.355, W88:57.097)
We reported in 99 Days to Panama and earlier on this site that the Tesoro Beach Hotel would let RVs stay in the large lot next to the hotel for $15/rig/night. When we went there in March, 2006, we were told that they no longer "provided this service". They did, however, allow us to camp there for two nights. It is a beautiful location especially with access to their pools and a nice beach. We have heard that the owner allows RVs to stay there as long as it doesn't interfer with local business, especially around holidays (e.g. Samana Santa). Caravans used to stay here. If you carry our book and show them the info they should let you stay. Don't try entering the hotel under their portal entrance ways. There is an open entrance to the field next to the hotel beyond the eastern most portal.
Bahia del Sol (N13:17.893, W88:53.664).
Next to this 5-star resort is a private beach club with a large parking area. It is used by caravans and they gave us permission to camp if we ate in their restaurant.
By the Sea at the Tesoro Beach Hotel
Restaurante El Viejo Pescador (N13:37.434, W89:52.654)
Owner: Daño Guadrón
Turnoff CA-2 at the pedestrian overpass at km. 90 (about six miles west of Acajutla), about one hour from the border at La Hachadura. Head towards beach on paved road which becomes a dirt and gravel road. Bear left at the beach and continue for about 1.5 miles to this restaurant. Ask to park on the beach next to the restaurant, or they will let you park in the fenced confines of the restaurant which they will tell you is more secure.
We found this place in the dark after crossing the border late. It seems the only place to camp along this stretch of beach. The owner (Daño) was most welcoming and their food was great, however the neighborhood is a little run down, not like the upper scale areas of Costa Del Sol. Yet this is one of the few opportunities to park right on the beach. Suitable for small rigs.
Next to Restaurante El Viejo Pescador, Playa Metalío
"El Indio" Campground (N13:29.661, W89:23.029)
This is down a narrow road at km. 57 on CA-2, about four miles west of La Libertad. Take the road marked "El Tronco Beach" and the campsite is behind the green door near the end of the street. Ask anyone for "El Indio". It is only suitable for small rigs due to the narrow turn into the camping area.
This is primarily a tent camping area but there is plenty of parking for small rigs. "El Indio" is acually Ozzy Reyes Cindio (+503-7877-4461) who is upgrading this place with a kitchen and baños. He was installing a septic system when we were there. I provided him info on a dump station, and he might add one in the near future. There is elecricity available and water, but it is saline. He is a Salvadoran surfer turned entrpreneur and wants to make this work. He speaks a little English.
Rio Mar Recreational Center (Update 2006)
We also stayed in this place, 1.5 miles east of La Libertad, which was recommended by Kathe Kirkebride (see 99 Days to Panama). We too had to get special permission to stay after closing. The mosquitos were particularly bad (we're told they are only there January - March), but it is a nice place with a nice pool.
"El Indio" Unmarked Entrance & Campsite
Beach in front of "El Indio"
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Click for Larger Image
is the most
tourist friendly country of Central America. Many
Europeans fly down there for holidays, and many decide
to return to
retire or just have a vacation retreat. The RVer
will find many
beautiful places to camp, and even some real RV
parks. The down
side is that Costa Rica has some of the worst roads in
but if you're not in a hurry and have your belongings
secured you will
be fine. There are so many parks, beaches, cloud
forests and rain
forests in Costa Rica that you could spend a lifetime
there and not see
it all. We have visited several times and seem to have
only grazed the
surface. Our "99 Day Trip" hardly did it
justice. If you
want an eco-tourism experience in a friendly, safe
country you could
drive directly to Costa Rica from Mexico in 4-5 days and
wallow in the
natural wonder of this place. On the other hand, Costa
Rica lacks the
indigenous Mayan culture you find in Guatemala and to a
in Honduras. If you are into native crafts and
markets you will
|Liberia, Costa Rica
El Delfin Trailer Park (N10:39.44, W85.28.16).
Water and dump
There is only one border crossing between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, at Peñas Blancas. A few hours south of there, 5 km north of Liberia, is the El Delfin trailer park. This is no longer an actual trailer park, but there is a dump station and water available. A caretaker will accept $4 for overnight camping plus $2 if you want to use the pool. Adventure Caravans were here when we came by, that is the only way we would have seen it.
Santa Rosa National Park
The main campsite is available by road. The other campsites are for backpackers. No pets!
18% of Costa Rica is National Parkland, and some parks allow camping. We were stymied because they don't allow pets. The Santa Rosa National Park is just 44 km south of the Nicaragua border at the norther end of the Guanacaste area. This would be a good place to start your visit to Costa Rica .
|Santa Elena, Monteverde
Las Orquídeas Bar and Hotel (N10:18.78, W84:49.65)
Water and electricity available from bar!
The Monteverde Reserve is a three hour horseback ride from Lake Arenal, but an eight hour ride on bad roads. Monteverde is one of the highlights of Costa Rica, but driving there by RV could be difficult in the rainy season (April to December). We went in March. The weather was fine but the roads were still rough. Traveling from Santa Elena (Monteverde) to the Pan-American highway, a distance of 20 miles, took us 2 1/2 hours in perfect weather. The best approach to Monteverde from the Pan-American Highway is through Cañas and Tilarán. We stayed at the Las Orquídeas Bar and Hotel, 500 m west of Santa Elena Center. Our hosts, Danilo and Nadia Zamora, made us most welcome.
Las Orquídeas Bar and Hotel near Sta. Elena, Monteverde
Belén Trailer Park near San Jose
San Antonio de Belén
Belén Trailer Park (N9:58.80, W84:10.73)
Water, electricity and dump
This is the first real trailer park south of Belize. The facilities, laundry and hot showers made this a true oasis. The owner is Laurie Sutter (firstname.lastname@example.org), an LA transplant.
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|Panama has the highest
of living of any Central American country. You
will feel right at
home in Panama City. The Pan-American Highway is very
good (and the
only route through the country), but it has been known
to have several
speed traps, particularly around Santiago.
|The first RV park
Panama is XS
Memories, run by Dennis and Shiela Parsick.
They have 12 full
hookups. Adventure Caravans stops here and buses
people the 60
miles to Panama City for sightseeing. We stayed at
Restaurant and Balneario Playa Santa Clara right on the
found this more
appealing, but if you miss the North American
ambiance and food,
XS Memories is the place for you. Dennis and
Shiela also arrange
kiaking trips, and they can help hook you up with a
shipping agent if
you want to ship your rig to South America.
XS Memories RV Park, Playa Santa Clara
& Consignment (new 2010)
A German couple has established a new "RV Park" at the Chiriqui Storage and Consignment on the road from David to Boquete (2010). Information is reprodued on the right.
Space: Max: 10 units of 25 ft or les;. 6 to 8 units of 30 plus ft.
Security: 6 ft chain link fence with 10" razor wire on top. Around the entire property. We have 2 Geese and a watchdog.
Hookups: Potable water, 30 Amp Power, Dump in existing septic tank ($10 per dump), wi-fi around office
• Daily: Units to 20 ft. -$10 per day; 20 to 30 ft. -$15 per day; Over 30 ft. - $20.
• Weekly: Units to 20 ft. -$60; 20 to 30 ft. - $90; Over 30 ft. - $120.
• Monthly: Units to 20 ft.- $240; 20 to 30 ft.- $40; Over 30 ft. $450.
• Units with NO air conditioning - $4 per day.
• Units with air conditioning equipment. (even if you say you are not going to use it) - $6 per day.
• If you have cars in tow is $ 1 per day per car. Car may have to be parked else where on property
Co-ordinates: 8° 35' 30. 90" N, 82° 25' 15. 99" W , Elevation: 1028 ft.
Directions: We are on the main road to Boquete from David, 1.7 km. north of the Terpel Gas station on the fork in the road to Potrerillos. Stay bearing right towards Boquete. Look for a sign that says "Chiriqui Storage". And "RV's welcome". Turn in to our property just before the sign.
Phone numbers: Linda - 011-507-6714-2487; Hellmut 011-507-6503-7756; Penny 011-507-6510-8934 (All are cell phone #s which are all 8 digits here in Panama)
Getting Around: The town of Dolega is 2 ½ km to the south. David is 17 Km to the south , Boquete is aprox. 18 km to the north. Taxis are cheap. About $ 2-3 to Dolega. About $ 10 to David and the same to Boquete. We are on the major bus route between David and Boquete. $1 to David and probably $1 to Boquete – one way. (to Dolega 50 cents)
• There are several Restaurants within 10 km. Closest is across the aforementioned Terpel gas station 1.7 km away which is Columbian food. In Dolega are typical Panamanian restaurants. Towards Boquete is an Italian Restaurant and a bohio with great food (burgers, fish & chips, etc.) called "Las Ruinas" with a swimming pool.
• Stores 2 km away in Dolega.
• Repair facilities in David. Not specializing in RV's.
• There are refrigeration companies and diesel repair facilities.
• As of this writing we don't have a public restroom and laundry but some of that may change by June (2010)
About our property.
…We purchased about 3 ½ years ago. Area is 2.5 acres
…We have a Wood/furniture shop on the north end. Caretaker's house is in the middle of the property.
…Our main business is self storage and we now have a consignment shop.
…The campground is still under development. You will not yet find a US style RV park just yet!
…In time we intend it to be so with about 30 to 40 spaces with all the facilities.
…If you don't mind roughing just a little bit we will be able to accommodate you.
…By June 2011 we may have added some improvements.
Chiriqui Storage and Consignment (new 2010)
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has two remarkable colonial cities and the largest
tropical lake in the
world. We are not aware of any facilities
RVs. Plaxtons (Mexico
Central America by Campervan, ITMB Publishing -
out of print)
parked their RV at the Camino
in Managua while they took a flight to the Corn
Islands. We have
found hotels such as this are receptive if you talk to
the manager and
utilize their restaurants and bars. Park in the
far reaches of
the parking lot (like you do at Wal-Mart).
Estelimar Turicentro (N13:5.86 W86:20.16) is a daytime recreational center that allows RVs to camp for $10. There are also rooms available. It is located about one mile east of town on an unpaved street that runs by a tobacco plant. From the InterAmerican highway turn east at the statue with the soccer ball mounted on top (we think this is Calle Peru but signs are few and far between). This is the corner south of the Shell Gas Station and right next to the tourist office. There is a blue sign indicating the Turicentro. Large rigs may have trouble navigating into the parking area. There is electricity available and a place to fill your tanks with water (not next to the parking area, however). There are three swimming pools (mostly empty when we were there), a bar and restaurant.
Miraflor and Selva Negra (near Matagalpa) were two eco-tourism developments near Estelí which were recommended to us by Intur and others. You should be able to camp there, but we have not checked them out.
Parking at Estelimar. Electric hookup is at base of street light at corner of lot.
Centro Turistico runs along the shores of Lake Nicaragua. It is an upscale place with restaurants and nightclubs. There's a $4 charge to enter, and we tipped two vigilantes while we stayed for the night. We expected lots of activity on a Friday night, but is was very quiet. Caravans camp outside the Center to the south along the beach. They hire their own security.
Centro Turistico, Granada
We discovered two good camping places on our 2006 trip. The best is in the Masaya Volcano National Park (N12:00.79 W86:8.46). The entrance is next to Nindirí on the road between Masaya and Managua. Park Entrance is about $4 per person and the charge for overnight camping is $1.76 per person (When we came back for a second night's stay they did not charge again for admission,only the overnight camping fee!) Not cheap for boondocking but the park has beautiful trails and roads leading right to the craters. You park at the Visitors Center, which is worth exploring. At nightime you are alone with the animals and plants. Water is available to fill your tanks. Rigs of all sizes could camp here.
The Mirador at Catarina (N11:54.79 W86:4.19) also allows overnight camping for about $1.20. It is a parking lot surrounded by small shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs: suitable for smaller rigs only. It has a terrific view of the Apoyo Lagoon, Granada and Lake Nicaragua. You are too high to reach the water of Apoyo which is below the Mirador. When we were there on a Sunday night the disco music went on until 2:00 AM. Catarina is five miles east-southeast from Masaya. The road to Granada splits northeast of Masaya, the road to Granada goes north of the Apoyo Lagoon, the one to Catarina goes south. When you get to Catarina a large sign welcomes you. Turn in before the sign and the Mirador is about .8 miles through the community. Ask for directions.
Parking Lot at the Mirador at Catarina - Empty in the Morning, Full At Night
Beach at San Jorge
|The Beach at San Jorge,
east of Rivas, is a welcoming site to boondock.
The owner of the
Ometepe Tours office, next to the ferry terminal, told
us that caravans
stop here once a year and take over the beach. Just to
be safe ask
permission at one of the restaurants and/or at the
Ometepe Tour office
next to the pier.