Hitchhiking through Central America is an easy way to get around. You also get to meet some amazing people along the way!
Having been teaching in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I decided to plan a trip to see if I could get down to Panama City, the capital city of Panama. We decided that hitchhiking would be the best and cheapest way of getting there. Even though it was a few countries we would have to traverse, we knew that Central America, in terms of its size, is fairly small compared to other regions of South America.
Huge American style pick up trucks are commonplace across Central America. Often locals will not shy in stopping to give you a lift to where you need to go. One foot on the tyre and propel yourself into to the back of these large vehicles, and away you go!
Starting the Journey of Hitchhiking Across Central America
Tegucigalpa is a large and dangerous city, so we decided to get a short bus ride out of the city on the main route down the country. Arriving in Guinope, armed with a sign saying Choluteca (the main town in the south of Honduras, near the border with Nicaragua), we were able to get a lift easily.
Hondurans, like most Latin people, are very friendly and love getting to know foreigners, even if communication is challenging! Arriving in Choluteca for lunchtime, we decided to see how much further we could go, so we walked along the main road leaving the town, and after changing our sign to say frontera con Nicaragua, sure enough, within 30 minutes another pick-up truck took us. This time we had it to ourselves and enjoyed the relative comfort!
Hitchhiking Easily Through Nicaragua
We arrived in Esteli, Nicaragua, staying there for the evening and after a couple of games of pool, we had an early night.
We found Nicaragua to be the easiest place to hitchhike, and it seemed to be completely normal as we saw lots of locals doing the same. A huge pick-up truck being driven by an extremely friendly driver, took us all the way to Grenada. Nicaragua is an extraordinary place. Full of stunning colonial cities, mixed with beautiful people and incredible scenery.
From there, we had a short ride to Rivas, and then we took a bus to the border of Costa Rica. After crossing the border we walked a few hundred metres, and with our sign saying San Jose (the Capital), we waited. Sure enough, we got a lift and eventually made our way to the Costa Rican border.
Really Difficult Hitchhiking Through Costa Rica
From San Jose we tried to carry on, but once in Costa Rica we found Hitchhiking extremely difficult. After waiting for hours, we cut our losses and ‘cheated’, taking a bus on down to Panama City.
If anyone is thinking about doing this, I’d recommend doing it with a friend and being open to being uncomfortable at times. It is also important to make sure you have sunscreen, not only when you are waiting, but also on the trucks as you can easily burn but due to the wind, it may feel like you aren’t. Out of all the countries, we found Costa Rica particularly difficult to hitch hike in as it doesn’t seem to be common place to do so.