PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ A group of about 300 people began a 1,250-mile ''March for Peace'' through Central America Tuesday, but faced opposition from the Costa Rican government.

The overland trek by foot and in caravans of vehicles also includes planned stops in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and is scheduled to end in Mexico City about Jan. 20. A delegation then plans to fly to Washington.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, an American civil rights activist, was expected to appear at a ceremony here Wednesday, and British actress Julie Christie was to join the group in Nicaragua, organizers say. Some participants will join the march for certain segments.

Earlier in the day, President Luis Alberto Monge of Costa Rica said his government would not permit the participants of the march to conduct any public meetings, but they would be allowed to pass through the country.

The march is scheduled to leave Panama City on Thursday and reach the Costa Rican border on Friday. The first day's events here included a meeting with President Eric Arturo DelValle.

Panamanian critics of the march accused the organizers of having leftist sympathies.

''I think it would not be very wise to characterize people who participate in the march for peace as communists,'' said Torril Eide, a Norwegian who is among the organizers. ''I think that the easiest way to neutralize and damage a march like this one is to describe it as communist. However, we think that is a primitive way of describing the march.''

The organization, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, was formed for this event only and describes itself as independent. It says its goals human rights and self-determination.

Organizers said that 110 people from the United States, and 60 from Canada were among those participating at the start of the march. Additionally, there were participants listed from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Finland, West Germany, India, Iceland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.