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Location: Santa Ana

Day 1 - 6 Jan 2022

Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Santa Ana

Content: I arrived in Santa Ana by bus from El Tunco. Details for this journey are below! El Tunco -> La Ceiba - minibus 102A $3, 1hr La Ceiba -> Santa Ana - chicken bus 201 $1, 1.5 hours

Pool House: Santa Ana Hostel

Santa Ana, Pool House: Santa Ana Hostel
Santa Ana, Pool House: Santa Ana Hostel

Content: Check in to Pool House Hostel. This is one of our favourite places we’ve stayed. Very well priced, dorms or privates available, outdoor pool area, well-stocked kitchen and amazing hosts who are so helpful with all questions you have. It felt like staying with family.

Parque Libertad

Santa Ana, Parque Libertad
Santa Ana, Parque Libertad
Santa Ana, Parque Libertad
Santa Ana, Parque Libertad

Content: Head to Parque Libertad, the main square in Santa Ana. There are lots of super cheap food stands here - I’d recommend the El Salvadoran delicacy of pupusas (stuffed tortillas) and freshly squeezed orange juice! This is a lovely place to walk around and see some of the beautiful buildings. Be sure to check out Catedral de Nuestra Señora Santa Ana, El teatro Nacional and the municipal hall.

Despensa Familiar Santa Ana Catedral

Santa Ana, Despensa Familiar Santa Ana Catedral

Content: This supermarket on the corner of the main square has some of your essentials (the ingredients in El Salvador aren’t too varied honestly) and there’s a man selling fresh fruit and veg out the front. If you’re planning to cook, this is the place to go!

Location: Santa Ana

Day 2 - 7 Jan 2022

Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda

Santa Ana, Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda

Content: Today is an easy level day trip to Salto de Malacatiupan - a hot springs waterfall. First stage of the journey: Francisco Lara Pineda bus terminal (Santa Ana) -> Atiquizaya - 210 bus, $0.50

Location: Atiquizaya

Day 2 - 7 Jan 2022

5 de Noviembre Park

Atiquizaya, 5 de Noviembre Park

Content: Stop here for some food and coffee. Most local dishes contain meat but if you’re vegetarian/vegan, ask for the yuca dish without meat. Lacking in protein but still tasty!

Location: Ahuachapan

Day 2 - 7 Jan 2022

Salto de Malacatiupan (Hot Spring Waterfall)

Ahuachapan, Salto de Malacatiupan (Hot Spring Waterfall)
Ahuachapan, Salto de Malacatiupan (Hot Spring Waterfall)
Ahuachapan, Salto de Malacatiupan (Hot Spring Waterfall)

Content: Take the yellow bus from on 4a Calle to Salto de Malacatiupan $0.50. Entry to the waterfall is only $1 and you can then spend as long as you’d like there! I’d recommend bringing lots of water and some snacks. It’s really beautiful to walk down the river a little and enjoy the nature. Be warned: the water is very warm so it’s not a particularly refreshing escape from the heat outside!

Location: Santa Ana

Day 2 - 7 Jan 2022

Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Santa Ana

Content: Do the return journey with the same buses in the opposite direction!

Location: Unknown

Day 3 - 8 Jan 2022

Lago de Coatepeque

Unknown, Lago de Coatepeque

Content: I believe there are water sports you can do at the lake and you can also swim there. We didn’t do this but if you’d like to spend more time, you could do!

Location: Santa Ana

Day 3 - 8 Jan 2022

Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Santa Ana

Content: Transport instructions for day trip to Santa Ana Volcano: La Vencedora bus terminal (Santa Ana) -> Tibet bus stop - 248 bus which only leaves ONCE A DAY AT 7:30am - $0.70

Santa Ana Volcano

Santa Ana, Santa Ana Volcano
Santa Ana, Santa Ana Volcano
Santa Ana, Santa Ana Volcano

Content: An easy hike with beautiful views to reach a sulphuric crater lake at the top of Santa Ana Volcano. Absolutely worth a day trip here. Be sure to check the weather beforehand - if it’s cloudy/rainy, you might not be able to see the crater lake. Entry to national park costs $6 and the guide costs $2-3 per person depending on group size. The guide didn’t do much but it’s obligatory to have one. Don’t worry about arriving with a group - once enough people are at the bottom, a guide will adopt the group and start the hike. This happens at regular intervals! Hike should take about 1 hour up and 30 minutes down depending on group speed.

Location: Unknown

Day 3 - 8 Jan 2022

Lago de Coatepeque

Unknown, Lago de Coatepeque

Content: Once down the volcano, you can go to Lake Coatepeque for food. It was a bit fiddly to get down there - we caught a bus to El Congo then took a taxi from there for $3. We took a taxi back to El Congo bus terminal afterwards to take the bus back to Santa Ana. There are multiple bus numbers that head that way - just ask a driver for assistance, they’re all very helpful.

Location: Santa Ana

Day 4 - 9 Jan 2022

Metrocentro Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Metrocentro Santa Ana

Content: Take an Uber from the hostel to the Metrocentro to Cinépolis for a cinema night. You can check the website beforehand to see which films are dubbed and which have subtitles! Cinema tickets and popcorn are very cheap here - if you’ve got a student card, take that for a ticket discount too.

Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda

Santa Ana, Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda
Santa Ana, Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda
Santa Ana, Bus Terminal Francisco Lara Pineda

Content: Transport instructions for day trip to the Tazumal Ruins: Francisco Lara Pineda bus terminal (Santa Ana) -> Chalchuapa - bus 218, $0.30 Walk to the Tazumal Ruins which are 5 minutes away from where the bus drops you.

Location: Chalchuapa

Day 4 - 9 Jan 2022

Tazumal

Chalchuapa, Tazumal
Chalchuapa, Tazumal
Chalchuapa, Tazumal

Content: The Tazumal Ruins felt like a really off the beaten path place (even by El Salvador standards!). They’re small but we had the place to ourselves to admire the structures and have a look around the little museum (this is all in Spanish though). Entry is $5

Cementerio de Chalchuapa

Chalchuapa, Cementerio de Chalchuapa

Content: Have a wander around the market stalls on the road next to the Tazumal ruins and get a smoothie/snack. We then had a wander around the Chalchuapa cemetery - is it just me that finds this an interesting activity?! It’s lovely to see how life is celebrated through death here with lots of colour on the graves and monuments.

Casa Blanca Archaeological Site

Chalchuapa, Casa Blanca Archaeological Site

Content: Next I would recommend heading to Casa Blanca Archaeological Site in Chalchuapa. We didn’t do this as unfortunately didn’t realise it was there until afterwards but you can do an indigo dying workshop in here apparently (a traditional craft in El Salvador).

Location: Salcoatitán

Day 5 - 10 Jan 2022

Ruta de las Flores

Salcoatitán, Ruta de las Flores

Content: This is a big day trip so pack plenty of water and snacks! If you’ve got more time in El Salvador, I’d recommend spending longer in Ruta de las Flores but you can still pack a few things into a day there. Francisco Lara Pineda bus terminal (Santa Ana) -> Juayua (Ruta de las Flores) - bus 238.

Location: Juayua

Day 5 - 10 Jan 2022

Juayua

Juayua, Juayua

Content: Things to do in Juayua, the first town on the Ruta de las Flores: Las Siete Cascadas hike - this is a really fun hike in a loop around 7 waterfalls and includes getting quite wet climbing up one! It takes about 3 hours in total and you need to go with a guide. I’m not sure of the latest time the tour runs but if you can squeeze this into your day, I’d recommend for nature lovers/adventurous types. Juayua is also a lovely place to walk around, look at the market stalls and grab a bite to eat.

Location: Concepción de Ataco

Day 5 - 10 Jan 2022

Concepción de Ataco

Concepción de Ataco, Concepción de Ataco

Content: The #249 bus runs between all the towns on Ruta de las Flores every 15 minutes or so! I’d recommend visiting Ataco if you’ve only got a day here. It’s the most vibrant and bustling for market stands and buying indigo dyed souvenirs.

El Carmen Estate

Concepción de Ataco, El Carmen Estate
Concepción de Ataco, El Carmen Estate
Concepción de Ataco, El Carmen Estate

Content: The top thing to do on Ruta de las Flores is a coffee tour! We went to El Carmen Estate (book in advance) which I’d highly recommend. The tour cost $7, took about 2 hours and we saw the full process of beans arriving at the plant and being processed to end up as a cup of coffee. And of course got to try the delicious coffee at the end!

Típicos Mamá Nila

Concepción de Ataco, Típicos Mamá Nila

Content: Would recommend paninis here!

Location: Santa Ana

Day 5 - 10 Jan 2022

Pool House: Santa Ana Hostel

Santa Ana, Pool House: Santa Ana Hostel

Content: Head back to Pool House hostel for a well deserved nights sleep!

Location: Joya de Ceren

Day 6 - 11 Jan 2022

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren, Joya de Ceren

Content: If you like history, this day trip is worth it but it is a pretty long one to get to and the most expensive entry out of all these recommendations. Joya de Ceren is the only UNESCO site in El Salvador and is ruins preserved in volcanic ash. The museum is really informative and signs are in Spanish and English. Transport info: Head to Metrocentro in Santa Ana (this is possible by bus - if you’re staying at Pool House hostel, take the #8 from the nearby gas station) Take the GREEN 201 bus $0.95 to Desvio San Juan Optico (this is a gas station by the side of a main road) Get a jeep from the gas station which will drop you to the entrance of Joya de Ceren Warning: there aren’t any food places/much around this area at all so take snacks and water as it’s a long journey there and back.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren, Joya de Ceren
Joya de Ceren, Joya de Ceren
Joya de Ceren, Joya de Ceren

Content: Entrance is $10.

Location: Santa Ana

Day 6 - 11 Jan 2022

Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Santa Ana

Content: Head back the way you came and this concludes your trip to Santa Ana! As you can see, it’s a great base for lots of day trips and you really get the chance to see a variety of what this beautiful country has to offer.