After finishing up in Guatemala we decided that instead of going straight to Nicaragua we would spend some time in El Salvador. One of the most confusing cities when it comes to backpacking because everyone looks at you like you’re crazy.. the world’s most violent country??? Now, I am not saying it is not a dangerous country, just because I didn’t experience any issues doesn’t mean there are not any. But this fear stops people from coming to visit this amazing country. When with enough research and travelling sensibly, it seems like it is a great place to visit.
So we firstly had to get from Panajachel, Lake Atitlan to Santa Ana, El Salvador. And this was quite a mission. We found someone who through our very broken Spanish told us they could get us to X town and then we could take another bus to Santa Ana.. this did not happen. The bus driver dropped us off in the most random main road and this is unnerving, after being told to be careful and stay in the main areas. But, obviously, it turned out fine. We got a chicken bus to Sonsonate and then to Santa Ana. Sonsonate had a huge food court where we ate our first pupusas, so it was a great day.
We arrived in Santa Ana and walked to a guest house that we knew from previous research- Captain Morgans and managed to get a private room for 20$- a great deal. This was the hostel in the center of town so was a perfect location and the people who owned it were incredibly lovely and it was a place that truly felt like a home away from home. I would recommend this place in a heart beat.
Santa Ana was a great place to spend a few days (we spent a week). There are so many small and great places to eat, the market seems to always be bustling and its a great place to just walk around. We ate, we drank, we got tattoos and we shopped. I can highly recommend Evolution Tattoo, he did an incredible job with all our (weird) tattoo ideas and he was a great tattooist, I love the pieces he did for us and if you want a tattoo for a great price and quality.. here is your place!
Whilst we were here we also did the Santa Ana Volcano hike, for me a terrible time. For most, a very enjoyable time. I pushed myself way to hard and ended up nearly passing out.. not my greatest moment, The hike itself was not too easy but definitely if taken at a slower pace anyone could do it. The view from the top was incredible and if asked I would still do it again, if maybe at a slower place. There is also a fantastic view of the Lake Coatepeque.
Ruta de las Flores
We then took a day trip to see the Ruta de las Flores which was amazing. The flowers were in full bloom and we stopped at two of the different towns (Juayua and Apaneca) along the way. We did it all via chicken buses which was super easy and if you ever need help locals are always willing to offer information as to where to go. We also found a well priced Chinese restaurant where I had the best fried rice I have had in a long time.
After spending enough time in Santa Ana to feel like we may have over done it, we then hopped on the chicken bus to San Salvador. Sounds easy but it wasn’t. We spent over an hour walking all over the town trying to figure out where the bus was picking us up until we figured out everything. For all our transport I have been using CentroCoasting to research all the different buses. I don’t know if it is run by many or just one person but it offers detailed information on getting to and from different towns all around central america and is a God send. We used it to get to the volcano and san salvador (this one less successful but more my fault) and continued to use it for our time here. Santa Ana was a beautiful community and I would recommend spending as much time as possible in this town.
San Salvador was another place I assumed I wouldn’t feel safe because of everything said to me. Again, not saying it doesn’t have its problems but we stuck to areas we knew and felt comfortable being around. We stayed at the Hostal Cumbres which was a great hostel with great facilities. After staying in the Guatemalan hostels that did not have kitchens we were super excited to cook up a good meal and eat it watching the NFL, so we cooked up Quincy’s special; tofu mash and had a great night in with cheap (and terrible) beer.
This hostel was in a beautiful and I would say, safe area, right next to a huge park and about a twenty minute walk to the government buildings. We only spent two nights here but definitely could’ve spent more, there was so much to see and do and we only got to see a small portion. We walked all around the area near us, experiencing the market and the beautiful church and cathedral.
I am going to write another blog post about how we got from San Salvador to Leon, Nicaragua but we ended up spending one night in Santa Rosa de Lima and I definitely wished we could’ve spent more time there but had to leave to continue on our way. There are a lot of amazing cities in El Salvador that we did not have the privilege to stop by an experience.
I loved my time in El Salvador (the saviour, its English translation) and I truly believe it was my favourite country I have been to. It gave me so much confidence when it came to travelling as we had to do it all ourselves, no tour companies, only local buses and it made it feel 10x more genuine and felt like I was actually experiencing and loving a completely different country.
Thank you so much for reading this blog post! I had such a great time in El Salvador and if you’re considering a visit this post pushes you in the right direction, if only for the pupusas. My last two blog posts were about my month in Guatemala and Mexico.