Central America

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About four million years ago, give or take a millennium, a fortunate collision of underwater continental places heaved up a great mass of stone, creating a steep and narrow isthmus separating the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, linking the then-existing continents of North and South America. Strung out on this slither of land are the seven little nations that make up Central America, each and everyone on of them linked to us with nonstop flights aboard Delta.

Topographically, jungle-rich mountain ranges and volcanoes form a grand central spine, while both coasts are fringed with crescents of tropical beaches. Culturally, Central America combines its colonial-towns-turned-quasi-modern-metropolises with ancient pre-Columbian sites whose monumental temple-pyramids hold the secrets of the ancient Maya. Indigenous communities have guarded many of their traditions from both Spanish conquest and Yankee intrusions, most brilliantly displayed in artisan crafts and performing arts. And naturally speaking, this is a region of accessible, primetime flora and fauna.

It’s the great outdoors that first put Central America on the travel map for great experiences in natural history. No country has reaped greater benefits from an amazing diversity of ecosystems, protected in national parks than Costa Rica. However, no lesser natural wonders await travelers in all Central American countries, which are making serious efforts to safeguard their bountiful natural assets.

And indeed, the whole region is dotted with protected areas declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites: from the Barrier Reef in Belize and the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras, to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica and in Panama, the Darien National Park and Coiba National Park offshore from the mainland.

The call of the wild is also heard by active travelers looking for five-star adventure to suit every skill and spirit. Travelers can choose superb barrier reef diving, world-class fishing, white-water rafting, rainforest hiking, horseback riding, sea kayaking and surfing. And as the marketplace is showing, one of the nicest aspects of action-minded vacations is their family appeal. In most Central American countries, family bookings are booming, and by the sea or in the rainforest, lodges and hotels offer special activities embracing all generations.

Four Central American countries—Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—lie along the Route of the Maya, a wondrous world of special interest and soft adventure travel, catering with upscale-lodge comfort to archaeology buffs and natural history enthusiasts and bringing them up-close and personal to remote ceremonial cities and the descendants of the ancient Maya. Few ancient cities are more accessible to our shores, and even beach-bound vacationers take a day or two to explore one or more of the Mayan temples, palaces and royal tombs that are easy to reach by car, riverboat and long footpaths through the rainforest. Improved roads now make it appealing to travel between countries, following
in the steps of the Maya from Xunantunich in the Belizean highlands to Tikal in Guatemala to Copan in Honduras and Joya de Ceren in El Salvador.

The hottest tickets to the different vacation attractions in Central America are those issued by Delta Air Lines, taking off to a whole new world showcasing the kinds of vacation experiences that travelers seek nowadays: adventurous, romantic, nature-oriented, culturally involving, laid-back and sublimely comfortable. There’s no better time than the present to say “Welcome Aboard.”