Best of El Salvador

Culture and natural beauty

Eight days to enjoy the best things to do in El Salvador; culture, nature, food, and beaches make this small Central American country extraordinary. In this wonderful tour, you can know at first hand all the customs and traditions of the country all along with its natural diversity and its friendly inhabitants.

Jiquilisco bay

Volcano Izalco

Mangrove forests

Lake Coatepeque

Highlights

San Salvador, Jiquilisco Bay Biosphere Reserve, Cerro Verde National Park, Volcanoes of Santa Ana, and Izalco, Suchitoto, Lake Suchitlan, community of ‘La Cinquera’, Laguna de Alegria (Alegria Lagoon), beach of La Libertad.

Itinerary

Day 1. San Salvador

Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting for you at the international airport for your transfer to your hotel. The trip starts today in San Salvador, the capital of the country. Following major work of restoration and maintenance, the shaded plazas and pedestrianized main zones of the main city have never been safer and more amusing to explore. Surrounded by breathtaking volcanoes, the city is a good-looking capital. 

We will take a walking tour of the city this morning, including the leading attractions of the city including its church of ‘El Rosario’. This huge concrete church seems uninspiring from the outside, but the architects have smartly designed an astonishing arched roof, covered entirely in fanned-out windows of colored stained glass that cast a rainbow of natural light through to the cobblestone floor. This unusual and abstract piece of art contrasts sharply with the colonial and classical architecture that we’ll see elsewhere in the city, for example at the Grand National Palace.

Day 2. Cerro Verde National Park

Today, you will explore the imposing volcanoes, delightful lakes, and ancient Mayan ruins of El Salvador during this far-reaching day tour. During this expedition, you’ll discover the country’s diverse volcanoes, including Santa Ana, Cerro Verde, and Izalco volcanoes. All of these skyward summits harbor an abundance of uncommon ecosystems and plant life to discover. Then check out dazzling Lake Coatepeque before going to the Mayan-era ‘Joya de Ceren’ UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Pre-Columbian ruins of San Andres. 

During this expedition, you will do the following activities: 

  • Sightseeing: Santa Ana Volcano, and Izalco Volcano from Cerro Verde National Park 
  • Light hike: National Park Cerro Verde, and enjoy the natural surroundings 
  • Sightseeing: Lake Coatepeque, and lunch
  • Archaeological site visits: Joya de Ceren, and Sa Andres
  • Before going back to San Salvador, take a fresh swim in Chorros de La Caldera waterfall
Day 3. Jiquilisco Bay Nature Reserve

Today, we will take a two-hour drive to the Bay of Xirihualtique-Jiquilisco, a biosphere reservoir and big network of canals and mangrove-lined inlets that are broadly primitive, hosting hundreds of species of birds and playing an important part in turtle conservation endeavors within the country. You will have the remainder of the afternoon free to relax at the lodge, maybe you would like to go bird watching, or head down to the marina to see the fishermen working.

Day 4. Outdoor activities

Today you will have a boat trip with a local biologist to see hawksbill turtles. Search for crocodiles and marine birds. Later, you will take a laid-back bike ride through banana plantations towards a provincial cacao farm, where you will be able to learn how chocolate is produced by locals. In the afternoon, take another boat trip through the mangrove canals, to monitor the community of hawksbill turtles. 

Responsible Tourism: the program, run by the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, has many facets and our effort today will be to assist measure, weighing, and tagging the turtles to audit their healthy growth. A biologist from the project will escort this activity and will explain more about what they want to achieve with this endangered species. 

During the trip, we’ll also be passing through some small communities, giving us a more in-depth view of rural El Salvador. 

Day 5. Laguna de Alegria

The drive to the colonial town of Suchitoto is only three hours, which gives us plenty of time to discover the countryside. We will drive through a rural town with a privileged location near the top of a volcano, which provides exceptional views across the rest of the country and to the ocean. Here we will visit the Lagoon of Alegria, situated within the crater of the dormant volcano of ‘Tecapa’. This lagoon glows a dazzling green color due to the sulfur and other minerals within, it is a favorite spot for inhabitants. You will stay for a while to soak up the views before going on to a coffee farm. This regional farm has been in the same local family for more than 120 years, and their gorgeous location beneath the volcano Tecapa makes it a laid-back place to stop for a drink. 

We will arrive in the peaceful lakeside town of Suchitoto in the evening. All along your four days in the country, you may have realized a distinct clapping sound in the street – the sound of women patting down great circles of corn dough, stuffed with mixtures of black beans, vegetables, cheese, and meats before cooking on a hot plate and served up to the locals. These delightful dishes are called ‘Pupusas’ and are the national dish of El Salvador. Today you will learn how to make them before sitting down for a well-deserved local dish.

Day 6. La Cinquera and Suchitoto

After a short drive out of Suchitoto, we will find the rainforest community of ‘La Cinquera’, a former guerilla stronghold. This small village has emerged from the civil war, which raged throughout the 1980s, and has established a grassroots tourism project that serves as a living museum of the wartime period, with the ex-guerrillas and their families working as guides for visitors. 

The aim of the community is not only to educate people about this important part of the history of the country, but also to protect the forest from illegal logging – the trees are a haven for birds, and there are various swimming holes and waterfalls hidden within. The tour will take you through the forest, and the approximately two-hour hike is steep and hilly in parts. 

Later we’ll return to Suchitoto, the village which seems timeless, with cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, and an impressive colonial church in a leafy plaza. It was once at the heart of the indigo trade of the country, and we have the opportunity to take part in an indigo workshop in the afternoon. Additionally, we will take a boat trip out onto Lake Suchitlan, where hundreds of bird species have been recorded including hawks and falcons.

Suchitoto is the largest and most beautiful colonial city in the country. Go back in time through its delightful cobbled streets and colorful houses with the smell of culture and history. It will give an emphatic change to your visit to El Salvador, getting away from the city and discovering the uniqueness of colonial towns. It is, in fact, an excellent experience. 

Your guide will take you to the most important points of the city, while you understand the importance of this village, emblematic buildings such as the theater and without missing the Church of Santa Lucia You will be able to explore the craft shops and indigo stores.

Day 7. La Libertad

We drive down the coast to La Libertad, widely regarded as one of the best surfing spots in the Americas. The hotel is set on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with outdoor swimming pools and access to one of the most astonishing black sand beaches.

Day 8: Free time 

Your final full day during this outdoor vacation is free to spend as you decide. The beaches on this shoreline are hilly, with great surf. If you are interested in learning how to surf, this is a great place to do so. Moreover, you may visit a nearby community turtle breeding farm. If you prefer to stay close to the hotel, you will be able to take beautiful coastal hikes.

Day 9. Return home

Today, your driver will take you to the international airport. However, if you decide to extend your vacation contact us for more information. 

Expenses included

9 days & 8 nights

$1,600 per guest

Private transportation, door to door service

8 nights hotel accommodation: hotels carefully selected

Local certified onsite guides

All park entrance fees

Daily breakfast

Taxes

Price varies by group size

Not included: flights, travel insurance and other expenses than indicated

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