Uncover the spectacular beauty and rich culture of El Salvador

Sitting quietly nudged in between Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is often bypassed by travellers focused on getting from one big-name Central American attraction to the next. That's their loss. Bold but unassuming, feisty yet open-armed, El Salvador welcomes the intrepid traveller with plenty of offerings. Journey from the surf hub of El Tunco through the lush nature reserves near Ahuachapan and along the Ruta de las Flores to the whitewashed village of Suchitoto before finishing up in the lively Guatemalan capital of Antigua. This trip is the perfect introduction to your next favourite country.

Start
El Tunco, El Salvador
Finish
Antigua, Guatemala
Countries
El Salvador,
Guatemala,
Honduras
Themes
Explorer
Code
QVSL
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
124kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Enjoy the relaxed beachside vibe of El Tunco
  • Ride along the memorable Ruta de las Flores
  • Stroll Suchitoto's charming cobbled streets
  • Travel back in time at the impressive Copan ruins
  • Listen out for Marimba music sounding from Antigua's bars

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

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 laidback village of El Tunco has become well known for its surf and is the perfect spot to grab a drink, lie back in a hammock and watch the sunset over the black-sand beach.

While this town remains relatively unknown to international travellers, it's a preferred holiday destination for Salvadorians - particularly on weekends.
Take the day to enjoy this relaxed piece of paradise. Hire a board and tackle the waves, sip on a smoothie or visit the beach caves at low tide. In the evening, munch on the local specialty of pupusa and join the locals for a cocktail at the bar.
Today we travel 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.
The following day we'll explore the Ruta de las Flores - a 36km-long winding trip through brightly-colored colonial towns famed for lazy weekends of gastronomy and gallery-hopping, as well as more adventurous pursuits like hiking to waterfalls scattered throughout the glorious Cordillera Apaneca. Home to the country’s first coffee plantations, some of its finest indigenous artisans and a world-famous weekend food festival. We'll travel by local bus to explore some of the towns.

In the evening we'll have the option to visit the nearby hot springs for a relaxing dip.
Today we head to the town of Suchitoto in northern El Salvador.

Along the way we'll make several stops to visit the Tazumal Ruins, enjoy spectacular views over Lake Coatepeque and explore the fascinating preserved ruins of Joya de Ceren - known as the Pompeii of the Americas.
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.
Use this free day however you wish. Those looking to kick things up a gear may fancy a hike in the Cinquera Forest or kayaking on Lago Suchitlan, or perhaps tour the Guazapa Volcano and the Cihuatan Ruins in the valley below.
Today we travel north to Copan, Honduras (approx. 6 hrs), crossing the border into Honduras is expected to be smooth and without complications, your leader will explain the process.

Located close to the Guatemalan border, the town of Copan Ruinas is a major gateway for tourists visiting the Pre-Columbian ruins of Copan.
Take a guided tour of the ancient ruins of Copan - the southernmost of the great Maya sites for which Central America is famed.

This particular site was listed as a World Heritage site in 1980 and is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the royal families. There are also a number of small pyramid-shaped temples and excavated vaults. Walk through the grassy plazas under the gaze of huge carved faces, staring out from ancient walls. As you walk past monuments, statues and staircases it's hard not to wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilization.
Travel across the border into Guatemala and on to Antigua.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere.
Today your Central American adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned, so you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.

As there's a great deal to do in Antigua we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. If you are extending your time, perhaps check out the CHOCOMUSEO located on 4th street west, 2 blocks away from central park. Here you will learn all about chocolate, its history and nutritional values and you may be lucky enough to get a sample bag of chocolates at the end of the tour. Otherwise just grab a coffee from one of the many coffee shops in central park and just sit back relax and enjoy the beauty of this incredible city and the amazing people you will find. If you want to learn more about the famous Guatemalan coffee you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and even buy some to take back home.

Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you have come to know so well lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has also the lowest literacy rate in Central America. With this in mind, the Intrepid Foundation is proud supporter of CasaSito, an outstanding not for profit organization dedicated to assist youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.

If you have 2’ to spare (2’41’’ to be exact!) take a look at this short video about CasaSito – it’s inspiring: https://youtu.be/v62Ou9czWyE

If you want to help CasaSito and Guatemalan’s youth, you can donate through the Intrepid Foundation, which means that your donation will be match dollar for dollar by Intrepid too. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $50 it all goes a long way to help this fantastic organization. Simply visit our website: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Private minibus
Accommodation
Hotel (9 nights)
Included activities
  • Day trip along Ruta de las Flores
  • Tazumal Ruins
  • Joya de Ceren archaeological site

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our El Salvador Explorer trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

El Salvador Explorer , June 2016

El Salvador Explorer , May 2016