San Vincento Volcano El Salvador

How did you get there?

I flew with United via Newark and I would recommend the route. I had 3 hours to connect which gave me plenty of time and meant I wasn’t stressed by the slow-moving passport control queue.

Whereabouts in EL salvador did you go?

I began exploring the Pacific coast from La Libertad up to Barra de Santiago, then headed on to Ataco which was my base for visiting the Ruta de las Flores and several of its beautiful market towns. Then I travelled via a few Mayan sites up to Suchitoto to finish off my trip.

What was your overall impression of the country like?

Despite the somewhat turbulent time the country has had, the Salvadoreans are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve met – and that’s saying a lot within Latin America. There’s a really palpable sense of optimism that the country is on the way up.

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Which was your favourite:

Place: Suchitoto. A pristine colonial town that has absolutely retained its authenticity. It’s a beautiful place to stroll around in the sunshine, stopping off at galleries or leafy parks to cool down. A boat trip out onto Lake Suchitlan turned out to be a fantastic bird-watching trip and the indigo dying workshop I did meant I came home with some lovely souvenirs as gifts!

Hotel: La Cocotera is a gorgeous property on the little visited Barra de Santiago. Beautifully appointed rooms look out over a wild Pacific beach to one side, and a jungle and volcano-backed river estuary to the other. Whether you while away the days here by the pool or prefer to get active with canoe trips and guided tours of the nearby mangroves, this is a wonderful place to stay.

Excursion: Joya de Cerén was a real surprise. While the best-known Mayan archaeological sites are remnants of religious temples or ceremonial grounds, the settlement at Joya de Cerén was a farming community so gives an unmatched insight into the daily lives of everyday people. One of the excavations has an incredibly well-preserved family home, complete with a stone ledge that would have been their bed and an outdoor area that was their vegetable garden. The visitors’ centre brings it all to life and you realise that the people who lived here 1,400 years ago maybe weren’t all that different from us.

What were your most memorable moments?

Watching the early morning surfers while enjoying breakfast on the terrace at Casa de Mar, and watching from the boat as a huge flock of pelicans flew past on Lake Suchitlán.

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same place?

People will often travel through El Salvador for a couple of days on a longer trip through Central America, but it can definitely stand as a destination in its own right among its much larger neighbours. For such a small country there is so much to be enjoyed and the short journey times mean that everything is readily accessible. I’m convinced that the longer you spend here, the more you’ll fall in love with it.

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?

It’s impossible to spend a single day in El Salvador without coming across the ubiquitous pupusa! These thick corn tortillas are usually handmade and stuffed with beans, cheese and meat (or any combination of the three).

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Any restaurant or bar recommendations?

Casa de la Abuela is a friendly little cafe just off the main square, perfect for a fresh juice in the heat of the day. They also serve food into the evening.

Sum up your trip in a sentence?

An amazing first glimpse of the country which has swiftly bumped El Salvador to the top of my list of countries to return to.


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