El Salvador

September 19 – 26, 2016.

After three amazing months in Guatemala we crossed the border between Guatemala (Valle Nuevo) and El Salvador (Las Chinamas). We stayed only 8 days in the country because we had made plans to be in Honduras by September 29.

For the first time we were in a bit of a rush. We tried to see as much as possible in such a short time.

After paying our penalty/bribe of $40 for being late by one day on our Vehicle Temporary Import Permit on the Guatemala side, we went through Immigration and Customs in El Salvador without any problem, just the usual formalities. No money exchange since El Salvador’s currency is the US dollar.


Our first stop after the border crossing was the secure parking lot of Termales de Alicante just outside Ahuachapan. We paid $20 to camp and have access to the many pools fed by the natural hot springs coming from the mountain. There were a bar/restaurant, showers, bathrooms, hiking trails and a lookout. Besides another couple who came for a few hours we had the place to ourselves to soak in the hot pools and enjoy the tropical landscape. We try to visit these types of places during the week as they tend to be very busy with locals during the weekends.

We camped just a few steps from the pools!
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Beautiful spot for a morning yoga session!
After breakfast we hiked the trail through a bamboo forest, coffee plants and a small waterfall.
View from the top!
One of the hot spring sources, the water was so hot we could not even touch it!


We continued on the picturesque Ruta de Las Flores (Flower Route) to the quaint little town of Juayua founded in 1577 and known for it’s weekend food fair.

But first things first, we were dying to taste our first Pupusas, El Salvador’s staple dish. We found this tiny place where the lady made them fresh! 4 Pupusas and 2 sodas for $5.

Pupusa a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a combination of cheese, refried beans, shredded pork or revuelta (all three) served with curtido a spicy fermented  coleslaw. Addictive!
The Cathedral in the central Plaza is featured in travel books because of it’s black Christ statue. Sorry forgot to take a picture!
Next, we had to find a place to camp for the night. We ended up in the gated yard of this friendly old man for $5.
Notice the ad for Maracuya (passion fruit) Gatorade!
Joe got a $2 hair cut from this friendly barber!
The main attraction in Juayua is a hike to the Calera Waterfalls
So nice to swim in the cold water after the very hot hike!

Ruta de las Flores

The next day we continued along the Flower Route passing through little towns on our way to the Pacific Ocean.

Driving through a typical Salvadoran small town!
Lots of furniture makers along the road.
Beautiful trees lined the road to the Playa!

Playa El Tunco

The Salvadoran beaches are very popular with surfers, El Tunco is one of the more touristy on the beautiful Costa del Bálsamo where you can find numerous beach towns with a laid back vibe.

El Tunco is popular with the international crowd and locals who come from near by San Salvador for weekend beach fun!

We were going to camp but it was so bloddy hot and humid that we opted for a $30 hotel room with Air Con at La Bocanita in El Tunco.
Plenty of restaurants, bars and shops!
Sunset beer stop!
Another gorgeous Pacific Sunset! La Roca, The Rock
Padleborder at sunset!


After an early lunch of Popusas, we left the Pacific coast, driving through the Capital City of San Salvador.

We were a bit apprehensive but what we saw was a City that looked like a medium size American City with wide boulevards lined with chain stores and restaurants.

One of the advantages of a small country are the short driving distances. After just a few hours drive, we arrived in the small Colonial town of Suchitoto dubbed the cultural capital of the country. Tranquil, with a great artistic vibe, we really enjoyed Suchitoto and could have stayed longer.

The star of the central plaza: Iglesia Santa Lucia
The local supermarket where we got a few essentials!
I got a dress from Arte Añil where local artist and businesswoman Irma Guadron sells her creations and offers indigo workshop. Añil (indigo) or “blue gold” comes from a small shrub that grows in the area.
While in Suchitoto, we camped at El Mangal for a few nights. It was near a lake and it had a swimming pool, a few cabins and a nice little restaurant where we had some of the best food in Central America. Joe had steak, sausage and amazing french fries and I had a grilled chicken breast with Loroco sauce. Loroco which is a vine with edible flowers, came from their garden!
Every morning these little piggies visited us!
One of the main attractions in Suchitoto is Lake Suchitlan very popular with the locals on weekend for boat rides.
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This is how Salvadoran Teenagers roll on Saturday night!

The people of El Salvador have suffered tremendously during their civil war that lasted 12 years from 1980 to 1992. Poverty and crime are still a problem but during our short visit we had the opportunity to meet kind and welcoming people. We never felt like we were in danger and the small country is packed with lakes, volcanoes, beaches and apparently the best night life is Central America and a vibrant art scene.

Few Facts about El Salvador

  • Population: 6.345 million (2016) World Bank
  • Area: 8,124 sq miles (21,041 km²)
  • Capital: San Salvador
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Time spent: 8 days
  • Miles driven: 205 miles
  • Diesel price per gallon: $2.35


Next Honduras … Stay tuned!

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