I recently had the chance to visit the beautiful country of El Salvador, for some business purpose. I had earlier thought of getting there, having my job done, and fly back. But on reaching El Salvador, I found this country very, very beautiful. And this made me decide to extend my official tour to an official – cum – holiday trip. And my assessment was no wrong. I enjoyed one of my best holidays in this country. The captivating views, environment and the aroma of El Salvador make it a perfect tourist destination. Still under the spell of the beauty of El Salvador, I decided to share my experience with all..So here I am!!
Meaning ‘Republic of the Savior’ in English, El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. After the official work, the first place I visited was ‘Parque Nacional El Boqueron’. This is a national park, with an active volcano placed right in the middle of it. They charge a minute fee (1$) to enter the park. The park is beautiful; nature is very nicely conserved within the boundaries of the park. After roaming for a while, I joined a group that was about to trek the volcano. The hike is easy, also does not require much time. A couple of hours and you are on the top of the volcano. And that is some sight to see! The park attracts a large number of tourists because of the views from atop the volcano. You can see lush green vegetation, all way down the crater, and the clear skies. The trails even permit to go down further into the crater, but since some risk is involved, I decided not to do this. Anyways, the views from the top were so spectacular, I didn’t regret staying.
My next destination was Lake Coatepeque. This is one of the most sought out tourist attraction in El Salvador. Situated in the crater of a primeval volcano, the lake spreads across 10 sq miles. The road leading to the lake deteriorates poorly after a while, and one has to cover a decent amount of path on a rugged road. However, after reaching the lake, I found the place simply magical. The view of the lake is something I won’t forget ever. There are many restaurants by the sides. I was hungry and decided to have my lunch in one of those restaurants. And when I entered one of the lake – view restaurants, I found that the lake’s view was even better from this point. The restaurants have strategically owned some of the best viewpoints in the area, so as to attract as many customers, and they are somewhat successful in this. This lake is worth a visit if you travel to San Salvador.
I then moved on to ‘Joya de Ceren’ Archaeological Site. This is an excavated site, an ancient Mayan village, which was buried under a volcanic eruption. Joya de Ceren is declared as a World Heritage Site. There is a museum at the entrance. Moving further, you can see the small excavated village. I spotted a spa and a small house. I captured many images of the ruins and even bought a mask from the souvenir shop. There were many interesting things at the souvenir shop. After battling for long with myself on whether to buy the mask or a plate, I finally tossed a coin and found that it was the mask that was going home with me. At that moment I decided that the next time I’ll visit this place with my wife, I’ll get more items from this shop.
My cab driver then took me to the Cinquera Rain Forest Park. I had a great evening there. I had hired a local guide who knew absolutely everything about the history of Cinquera. I hiked for only an hour or so, and there were some really great views. Also, had I not hired the guide, I wouldn’t have known all about the history of Cinquera, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed so much.
Next was my visit to the Iglesia El Rosario Church. My cab was going through the Liberty Parque when I first saw this remarkable church. Built in the shape of a huge turbine shaped building, the Iglesia El Rosario church is a striking display of architecture. Not knowing what it was, I walked in, only to realize that this was a church. It was the most unique, most wonderful church I have ever seen. The stained glass windows are just amazing. It’s such a brilliant piece of engineering and it’s as good a treat to walk in as to view it from outside. The incredible designs of the church simply took my breath away. This church is a 100% perfect blend of traditional and modern designs. After taking some snapshots, I left for my next destination.
Jardin Botanico La Laguna is a botanical garden, built within the crowded city. The gardens within are massive! Bamboo bridges, ponds with giant fish, exotic plants; this place is just ideal. It was a far more fun place than I thought it would be. There is also a nicely built and equally well maintained kids’ playground inside. La Laguna botanical garden is a perfect destination to relax within the San Salvador’s noise, fumes and traffic.
After spending some really great time in the busy city of San Salvador, I moved to Santa Ana. Santa Ana is the second largest city of El Salvador. After having some rest in my hotel, I hired a cab to get to my first destination of Santa Ana, the ‘National Park Cerro Verde’. If you are an adventure tourist like me, this place is for you. Breathtaking beauty, splendid greenery, this national park is definitely among the best national parks of the world. A hill (or a mountain) is in the middle of two volcanoes, ‘Volcan de Santa Ana’ and ‘Izalco Volcano’. And it is the ideal place to trek any of these gorgeous volcanoes. I contacted a local guide for the Volcano trek. I had decided to hike on the Santa Ana volcano, the highest of the three of Cerro Verde. I joined a group of 7 people. The hike departed from Parque Cerro Vere. The way was all lined with tall trees, and comforted with a cool breeze. The guide told us about the Crater Lake as we were climbing, so as to impart an idea of what was going to be there. It took us about 4 hours to reach to the top, and the effort was well worth the sight. There was this huge crater, with beautifully illuminated sea-green colored lake at the centre, making the view seem out of this world. The huge size and beauty of the crater simply took my breath away! Surely one of the greatest places I’ve been to.
If you plan to visit this place, consider keeping plenty of water and some snacks handy. There is no outlet at the top, and you won’t find anything in the case of an emergency.
With this, my El Salvador trip came to an end. The next day, I boarded my flight from the Comalapa International Airport near San Salvador, and with the awesome memories of this incredible country in my thoughts, promised myself to visit here again. And then I started planning my anniversary vacations here, with my wife. Don’t know when, don’t know how; but what I know for sure is that I will come here again.