About El Salvador

city WHEN TO TRAVEL
The dry season is from November to April and the best time of year because the skies are always sunny. The rainy season is late May to October and it usually rains in the evening. December to January (Christmas-New Years) is very busy and unless you have family to stay with, get prior hotel reservations.

AIRLINES
Direct flights are available from Toronto and gateway cities in the US – NY, Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Denver, LAX and San Francisco on TACA Airlines. Also use Continental, Delta, American, or United Airlines. Your ticket on TACA may include stopovers in Central & South America, at no extra charge.

El Salvador has the most modern Airport in all of Central America and is the hub of TACA Airlines. The airport-Comalapa International is located 46 Km (28 miles) south of San Salvador, the capital city, which is serviced by a divided Highway. It is also located only 30 Km (18 Miles) from beach resorts of Costa del Sol.

The country is small and most areas in the country can be visited by car within 1 day. El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America. When you are driving a rental vehicle here, use caution because it is easy to get a minor fender bender, especially in crowded parking areas and most motorists drive uninsured. It is often better to form a group and take a Tour in an insured vehicle with driver, to lessen your liability. When driving, City bus drivers do not stop for you, so let them pass you.

ATTRACTIONS
Montecristo Cloud Forest in Trifinio International Park, has views from the summit of El Salvador to Guatemala and Honduras. A Permit is required for 4WD vehicles.

Cerro Verde National Park has a view of the smoking cone of Izalco Volacano. Guides and Tourist Police Escort services are available with advance notice. Nearby Volcanic Lake Coatepeque have motor launch excursions and rustic dwellings.

El Salvador has many beaches 300 Km. (200 miles) which include bays, secluded coves and mangroves. World Class Surfing is located at La Libertad’s Punta Roca, Sunzal and El Zonte Beaches, Deep Sea Fishing (Sailfish, Tuna, Dorado, and Marlin) and Deep Sea Diving at Los Cobanos Beach in Western El Salvador. You can enjoy water sports in Eastern El Salvador as well as Costa del Sol or El Cuco. Always use a strong sun screen.

You can visit either of the Nature Preserves of Cerro Verde in Western El Salvador near the volcanic lake of Coatepeque or Walter T. Denninger Tropical Forest at the slopes of the Pacific Ocean. A very popular sea side resort is the Decameron Resort located at Salinitas near Sonsonate. Your room price includes drinks and food, inclusive.

TRAVEL SAFETY NEWS
If you are concerned about visiting El Salvador for the first time because of news reports, you can hire a bi-lingual Guide or contact the Ministry of Tourism to see if it is possible to hire a Tourist Police Escort (no charge for the police escort, reservations are required). If you arrange a Tourist Police Escort and you are over-nighting, you are expected to pay the officers food and lodging.

ACCOMMODATIONS
Business travelers can stay in San Salvador at the Princess-Hilton, Intercontinental, or Presidente Hotel-Sheraton, which are centrally located. Our Canada-El Salvador Chamber of Commerce team can assist you with information and reservations at any time.

EATING
The Salvadoran “Pupusa” is a must and Pupuserias are everywhere. The better Pupusas come from “Olocuilta” south of San Salvador, near the airport. There is familiar fast food chains located in shopping centers in San Salvador. In La Gran Via shopping center there are new pubs and restaurants comparable to North American standards. Late night pubs can still be found at Colonia San Benito, San Salvador’s “Zona Rosa” and is patrolled by the PNC Tourist Police day and night.

SHOPPING
There are two good arts and crafts markets in San Salvador, The “Ex-Cuartel” is a huge crafts bazaar located in downtown San Salvador and a smaller one “Mercado de Artesanias” near the San Salvador Fairgrounds and dozens of towns with specialty crafts located around the country, such as Ataco, Ilobasco, La Palma, Nahuizalco and San Sebastian.

There are several large modern Shopping Malls, which are always security patrolled, located at MetroCentro, MetroSur, Gallerias, Las Cascadas, MultiPlaza and La Gran Via. These are centrally located in San Salvador. There are also Metro Centro Malls in the cities of Santa Ana and San Miguel.

CURRENCY
The US Dollar, including coins, is now legal tender in El Salvador. All Credit Card transactions are in USD. Canadian dollars are not changeable in El Salvador, at all, you must bring USD or a credit card. ATM Machines give US Dollars on Cash Advances.

HISTORY
Before the Spanish conquest, the area that is now El Salvador was called Cuscatlan and made up of two large indigenous states with several principalities. The western inhabitants were the Pipils, tribes of nomadic people (Nahuatl) and remains of their culture are found at Tazumal (near Chalchuapa), San Andres (northeast of Armenia), and Joya de Ceren (north of Colón). They were also well established in Central Mexico, so their culture was similar to the Aztec & Mayan societies. The eastern inhabitants were called Lencas and were related to the Chibchas culture in Colombia in South America. The Limpa River was the boundary between these two cultures.

The Spanish attempt to subjugate this area failed in 1524, when Pedro de Alvarado was forced to retreat from Pipil warriors. In 1525, he returned and succeeded in bringing the district under the control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala which continued until 1821. It was Alvarado who named the district “El Salvador (”The Saviour”).

El Salvador today, is a republic with a democratically elected constitutional government and its economy is that of a modern developing country open for investment and services.