El Salvador: Central America’s Best Kept Secret
One of the best things about travelling through El Salvador is its small size relative to the rest of the countries in Central America, meaning that many of the ‘popular’ destinations can be reached by public transport in under 2 hours.
The capital city of San Salvador works as a great central location from which to base your trips. While there’s not too many options in terms of hostels, the place we stayed in was a gem! Hostal Cumbres del Volcan is an old mansion in a very safe area of the city and has been converted into a hostel with dorms and private rooms. The kitchen is THE GREATEST KITCHEN in all of my travels. Its big, has two of everything (stoves, benches, fridges, pantries etc.), with water and coffee available for free – and sharp knives. SHARP KNIVES!!!!! All this for $8 USD (possibly $7.50, I can’t remember) and comes with an adorable yet mischievous puppy as a hostel mascot. You literally cannot go wrong here!
We had to drag ourselves out of bed at 5:30AM, away from the comfort of the mansion (and the puppy) to visit the beachside town of El Tunco. We walked 400m around the corner from our hostel, jumped on a bus for $1.50 and in just over an hour we had arrived in El Tunco! Kind of. We ended up missing our stop but managed to hitchhike back to where we were meant to be. This was not to be the last time we hitchhiked throughout El Salvador, as it turns out it’s a very common way to move about the country. As it was just past 7AM when we arrived, the town was still in the process of waking up.
Desperate for a coffee, we stumbled upon Loroco Bistro, you will recognise it by the big purple skull hanging out the front. The owner – Rivas, is incredibly passionate about coffee and offers a quick coffee education class about the origins and history of the coffee plant. There ain’t no Starbucks here! We were also treated to a special tour of the surrounding mountain ranges which gave way to some spectacular drone viewing. Include a few beers in the mix and you have an awesome day out!
I spent the majority of the day hanging half out of a moving car or on the back of a bike – you can see I think it’s a great idea.
The next day we movedfrom sleepy El Tunco to even sleepier El Zonte – basically a less touristy, quieter, low-key El Tunco. This is a perfect place to switch off from the world (Wifi is pretty rare around these parts) and take a few days for yourself. If you need help finding a place, Rivas is the man to help you out and will offer any information needed.
The next morning we headed back to San Salvador to pick up Penelope’s new passport after it got slightly moist crossing the border from Honduras to El Salvador – long story which will only be told once all parties involved have well and truly moved on. We returned to the comforts of Cumbres del Volcan for a couple of nights, after which we set our sights on Santa Ana!
I just want to say a huge thank you to Rivas for showing us around parts of El Salvador which we otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. Check out Loroco Bistro when you’re in town, Rivas will sort out your caffeine needs!