Explore El Salvador Trip Notes

    • 8
    • QVSF
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $785
      CAD $810
      AUD $840
      EUR €685
      GBP £500
      NZD $995
      ZAR R7,615
      CHF FR845
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    • Explorer
    • Original
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Explore El Salvador.
Print Version
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2014
Explore El Salvador
Trip code: QVSF
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Delve into the unassuming beauty of El Salvador and discover why this is one of the hidden gems of Central America. This trip gives you a sumptuous taste of life in this fascinating country, taking you from the lush nature reserves near Ahuachapan, to the charming colonial streets of Suchitoto to the buzzing capital of San Salvador. Sail onto brilliant blue lakes, hike among rich birdlife in spectacular national parks, and discover the Cerro Verde volcano. Walk down cobbled streets and admire colourful houses in a nostalgic small town, and discover a flourishing arts scene hiding behind old colonial doors. Then, bask in the hipster vibe of San Salvador’s bar and café scene and get immersed in a city bursting with energy and contradictions. There are plenty of things to love about El Salvador, and this trip reveals some of the best.
****A tip before booking****
Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.
Table of Contents
StyleSpending moneyGroup leader
ThemesTippingJoining point
MapDeparture taxJoining point instructions
ItineraryImportant notesArrival complications
Itinerary disclaimerGroup sizeFinish point
Culture shock rating Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Physical ratingSingle travellersEmergency contact
Physical preparationAccommodationEmergency funds
Included activitiesMeals introductionVisas
Optional activitiesMealsIssues on your trip
Money ExchangeTransportWhat to take
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Explore El Salvador
Itinerary
Day 1 Antigua
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, Mayan and local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere.
From Antigua it is usually possible to arrange an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano. This can be an exhilarating experience as it is often active.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-4 Ahuachapan
Today we travel by collective shuttle and cross the border into El Salvador, to the town of Ahuachapan.
A mid-sized town near the Guatemalan border, Ahuachapan is known for its geothermal activity, which it uses to produce electricity for the rest of the country. It is also a handy jumping off point for some of the highlights of western El Salvador such as the brilliant blue Lago de Coatepeque, Cerro Verde National Park, and the ruins of Tazumal and Casa Blanca.
The next day we will take a day trip to the beautiful, brilliant blue Lago de Coatepeque. Hike up one of the trails for a view over what is regarded as one of the most spectacular lakes in the world, go sailing on the lake, or visit some of the communities that live on the lake's edge.
The following day is free for optional activities such as a visit to the nearby Cerro Verde, or El Imposible, National Parks.
The highlight of Cerro Verde National Park is the Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2030 metres above sea level. The Cerro Verde, along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These 2 other volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside Cerro Verde National Park. The park also offers some wonderful treks enabling fantastic views of northern El Salvador.
As the name suggests, El Imposible is a remote area. The national reserve was set up to protect the flora and fauna of the rocky slopes and forests of the Cordillera de Apaneca. The area was named for the perilous gorge which used to claim the lives of farmers and pack mules transporting coffee to the Pacific port. Today the park makes a great place for a trek and maybe the chance to see pumas, tigrillos, wild boars, king hawks, and black-crested eagles. Hiking can get muddy and steep but offers great views of misty peaks and the gleaming Pacific Ocean.
Included Activities
  • Ahuachapan - Day trip to Lago de Coatepeque
Optional Activities
  • Cerro Verde National Park - Hiking - USD3
  • Ahuachapan - El Imposible National Park - USD5
  • Ahuachapan - Tazumal Ruins - USD5
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 5-6 Suchitoto
Today we head to the town of Suchitoto in northern El Salvador.
Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past. A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets, it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerron Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlan, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.
This afternoon we will take a tour of the historic city. The following day is free for optional activities such as boat trips on Lago Suchitlan.
Included Activities
  • Suchitoto - Historic city centre tour
Optional Activities
  • Suchitoto - Guazapa Volcano tour - USD60
  • Suchitoto - Cinquera Forest hike - USD5
  • Suchitoto - Cihuatan Ruins - USD3
  • Suchitoto - Lake Suchitlan boat tour - USD20
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 San Salvador
Heading south today, we enter the nation's capital, San Salvador.
The capital of El Salvador is a city full of contrasts. Historic churches coexist with modern shopping malls, and friendly people wanting to show off their country offset any preconceptions you may have had about the country's chequered past. Overall it is a city buzzing with energy, with left-wing hipster coffee shops, a wide choice of international cuisines, bohemian university bars and stylish discos.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • San Salvador - City tour
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
  • QVSF Single Supplement (QVSF)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    Physical preparation
    We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal (GTQ).
    The official currency of El Salvador is the US Dollar (USD).
    With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
    Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
    VERY IMPORTANT:
    US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest S/5. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest S/10 per passenger per day.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest S./3 to S/6 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
    Departure tax
    Please allow US$15 when flying into Guatemala City airport and a further US$15 if you are flying out of Guatemala City airport. These payments must be made in cash at the airport and are in addition to the US$30 international departure tax which may be included in your international flight ticket.
    If departing Guatemala by land, please allow US$3 for departure tax.
    Departure tax of US$32 from El Salvador is usually included in your international plane ticket.
    Important notes
    HURRICANE SEASON::
    Please note that hurricane season is June to November in this region, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors such situations should they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
    MINIMUM AGE:
    The minimum age for this trip is 15 at the time of travel. Any travellers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian, or in lieu of a legal guardian, by an escort over the age of 18, appointed by their legal guardian. The legal guardian or their designee will be responsible for the traveller under the age of 18 day to day’s care. If a legal guardian elects to designate an escort in their lieu, they will be required to complete and sign a relevant document, to delegate their authority.
    Group size
    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (7 nts)
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    No meals included
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 160.00
    Transport
    Minibus
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point
    Posada Los Bucaros
    7a Av. Norte, #94
    Antigua
    GUATEMALA
    Phone: +502 78322346
    Joining point instructions
    The easiest way to get from Guatemala City airport to Antigua is by taxi. The ride will take around45 minutes and cost you about 350 Quetzals (45 USD approx.). Make sure you negotiate the price before boarding the taxi
    Alternatively, "Antigua Shuttle" buses are available hourly from Guatemala City airport to Antigua. This service is not provided by one company but by a number of freelance drivers authorized by Antigua Shuttle. The journey time is around one hour and the cost is approximately 80 GTQ (USD 10 approx) . Look for the sign reading "Antigua shuttle" as you exit the main hall
    Should you have pre booked an arrival transfer through Intrepid make sure you go outside of the airport arrivals section. The driver will be waiting there with a sign with your name on it
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Roca Sunzal
    42 Carretera al Litoral
    Playa El Tunco
    San Salvador
    EL SALVADOR
    Finish point description
    Our hotel is located in the El Tunco beach resort area, 45 minutes from the centre of San Salvador, and about 30 minutes from the international airport.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Viaventure can be reached on +502 5778 4052 or + 502 5207 4914
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week.
    For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    GUATEMALA:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    EL SALVADOR:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    Whilst for most nationalities a visa is not required, you may be required to purchase a tourist card on arrival, costing approximately US$10. If you do require a visa, please obtain this in advance from your local embassy or consulate.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes).
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
    Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day