I’ve written extensively about our adventures in El Salvador over the last couple of weeks, and have enjoyed hearing from others who have ventured to this small and much over-looked country. Before I move on to the many other highlights of our Central American journey I wanted to collate some of our best memories into one photo post.
So here, after a very careful selection process, is a selection of our highlights of El Salvador:
One of El Salvador’s biggest cities, Santa Ana is a very pleasant place to explore on foot. The most impressive building in the city is surely the Theatre, with its immaculately restored lavish interior – we oohed and aahed our way around the cavernous interior of this 100 year old architectural masterpiece, built on the profits of the nearby coffee plantations. The cathedral in the main square is also worth a look, while most visitors to the city will enjoy getting lost in the narrow alleys of the street market.
Parque Nacional Los Volcanes
The best day hike on our whole trip, this 4 hour walk took us to the crater rim of a volcano that last had a major eruption only 5 years ago. The effort is rewarded generously by the incredible view into the crater when you reach the top. More on our climb in my Volcan Santa Ana post.
La Ruta de las Flores
We could have spent much longer along the Ruta de las Flores. Dotted with pretty villages and a gentle laid-back vibe, it is a part of the country that really does deserve many more visitors than it currently receives.
Our no. 1 highlight was without doubt the swim in the cascading waterfalls of los Chorros de la Calera, a easy and pleasant hike from Juayua.
Beyond our fun splashing in the waterfall, the pretty towns along the route make for a very pleasant day of hopping on and off the regular buses, and in and out of the many cafes along the way.
The big uncompromising capital lived up to its name, and while it will never be described as an attractive city, there is enough here to warrant a visit for at least a day. Perhaps the most famous stop in San Salvador is the tomb of Archbishop Romero, assassinated at the start of the 12 year bloody civil war and now buried below the city’s cathedral.
The central municipal market is well worth exploring. It’s hard to pinpoint where it starts and where it ends, as it seems to spread without any sort of order throughout the city’s streets. The noise and the smells of the market compete for your attention at all times.
Our home for Christmas, this picture-perfect colonial town in the north of the country will surely become the hotspot of El Salvador’s nascent tourism boom. Small enough to cover on foot in a short gentle stroll, peaceful and safe, Suchitoto is set above the wonderfully picturesque Lake Suchitlan. The town also has arguably the best hotels in the country, with a handful of high quality yet affordable boutique hotels.
For hikers Suchitoto offers some great trails. One walk (more of a scramble) is just out of town at Los Tercios, a geological oddity that consists of a wall of strange hexagonal rocks. It’s an impressive waterfall in the summer by all accounts, but for our arrival we were able to admire the rocks without the distraction of running water.
On Christmas Day we hired a motor boat to take us across Lake Suchitlan and over to the tiny village of San Luis del Carmen. A quiet lane winds its way along the hillside, and we followed this for around 5km until we reached San Francisco Lempa from where a car ferry took us back to Suchitoto. Not a long walk, but in the intense heat of the day it was enough.
Other images of Suchitoto:
On our way out of the country to Guatemala we stopped briefly at the Pacific port of La Libertad. Once a very rough town at the centre of the gang wars, there is a real effort here to spruce the place up and create an environment that is more appealing to families and tourists.
Further along the coast are the surf beaches. Here we stopped briefly before catching a shuttle to Guatemala. We saw more tourists here in an hour than we had seen during the previous week – so this is where they hang out!
We left El Salvador with many happy memories and with a feeling of satisfaction at having taken the opportunity to spend some time in this little visited corner of Central America.