This weekend the Los Angeles Times has a story and photo gallery about El Pital, the highest point in El Salvador:
The area's undisputed high point, in every sense, is Cerro El Pital (Pital Hill), the pinnacle of this compact Central American nation of nearly 7 million. It rises 8,957 feet toward a massive rock dome, which some scientists speculate was formed in prehistoric times by an impacted meteorite.
With an average temperature of 60 degrees from November to March (prime tourist season), El Pital offers an escape from the tropical mugginess that blankets much of the country. Although El Salvador has been badly scarred by illegal logging and war-related environmental destruction, El Pital is a haven of lush first-growth forest. This was a rebel stronghold in the war's early years, but it was spared later destruction after initial peace talks in 1984 in the nearby village of La Palma, and the main battle zones shifted elsewhere.
El Pital reminded me, in some ways, of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the pine-perfumed uplands of New England. But its soul is unmistakably Mesoamerican.
Hummingbirds range through its foliage. Short-tailed hawks soar across its rugged precipices. From the upper reaches, you can gaze miles north into neighboring Honduras and Guatemala and south toward the sprawling Embalse Cerrón Grande reservoir and the massive San Salvador volcano that broods over the capital.
Although paragliding, canoeing and other activities abound, hiking, horseback riding and quiet nature contemplation are the main draws. It's a good place to undergo spiritual repairs in a country still suffering from combat fatigue of the soul.(more)