Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eco-tourism for El Salvador

Calling it "Central America’s most undiscovered ecotourism destination," an
article on the website of TerraCurve describes a new web portal for eco-tourism in El Salvador:

El Salvador is emerging, leaving its conflictual past behind and reinventing itself as an adventure and cultural destination. The Eco-Experiencias project is helping Salvadoran communities, workers cooperatives, NGOs, and private landowners to interpret themselves to create one of a kind, sustainable experiences that highlight unique cultural, natural and geographical qualities of the departments of Sonsonate and Ahuachapán.

EcoExperiencias El Salvador is the nation’s first international branding campaign to position El Salvador as an emerging, ecological destination.

The web portal is being developed in two phases. Phase 1, launched on November 13, 2008, presents an interpretive preview of western El Salvador’s four tourism destinations: the Route of the Flowers, the Western Pacific, Forests and Mangroves Region, and The Volcanoes. Each destination provides unique and largely untouched cultural and natural attractions to be explored.

Phase 2 will be launched during a special event in San Salvador on Wednesday, December 3, 2008, and will feature packages of activities called eco-experiences, all managed by local people, in each of the four regions.

Currently, the site is owned by an informal group of agencies and businesses. In August 2009, the program will be transferred to a Salvadoran host that will continue the program’s mission and expand the model nationwide to foster small business development and biodiversity conservation in all of the departments of the country.

The new EcoExperiences web site is at The site is in both English and Spanish and opens with this introduction:
EcoExperiencias El Salvador

Discover El Salvador and all of the ecotourism destinations that it has to offer! Let yourself go with EcoExperiencias El Salvador and explore the western regions of the country… A land of wildlife, colors and smiles.

Come along with us for a unique experience loaded with cultural treasures and natural wonders in the departments of Sonsonate and Ahuachapán: spectacular landscapes teeming with thousands of species of flora and fauna, an exceptional arts and crafts scene, archaeological sites, interactions with the indigenous communities, and exquisite local food bursting with flavors of the mountain and sea.

Let us share the country’s best-kept secrets with you, while we support local economies and biodiversity conservation in this beautiful country.

The website contains beautiful images of the countryside in the four featured regions with accompanying narrative text and downloadable maps.


Anonymous said...

Going to El Salvador for ecotourism is like going there to learn about indigenous peoples. The country provides a lesson in how to destroy almost the enire environoment while leaving just a tiny bit still standing, just as there are a few surviving Pipiles.

By the way, do the ecotourists have any idea what they are drinking in the bottled water???

kesha said...

The Eco experiencias project is helping Salvadoran communities, workers cooperatives, NGOs, and private landowners to interpret themselves to create one of a kind, sustainable experiences that highlight unique cultural, natural and geographical qualities of the departments of sonsonate and Ahuachapán.



Buzz marketing

expatwizard said...

Information on El Salvador for Visitors and Volunteers.

First of all I am not a "traveler", I am a different kind of animal "Long Term Resident Ex Pat" who has lived, worked and loved in the Central America "we all know and love" (mainly El Salvador and Guatemala, a bit in Honduras and Nicaragua, while in Costa Rica, excpet for one 4 month stint, and Panama, I was a tourist). So I am a bit cynical, not on any vacation or relocation "honeymoon" and prefer to keep most of my personal observations to myself, my Salvadorian friends are from all walks of life and of varied political persuaions or none at all, frankly. So I don't write about Fantasy and Myth I write about Reality as I see it, and sometimes it ain't too pretty.
I don't play "blame games" or "politics" nor associate with any foreigners visiting locally who do! Sound rule. Take your "Lonely Planet" and begone!!
Ancestors of mine on my Mother's side originally immigrated to El Salvador in 1889, founding El Salvador's first international commercial Bank, the bank failed after the Second World War, so the President, a Great Great Uncle of mine by marriage donated his entire fortune to the El Salvadorian Ministry of Health, and today in San Salvador, El Salvador stands the largest Children's Hospital in the region, administered by The Salvadorian Public Ministry of Health, which bears his name.
I first resided in Central America in 1970 and 1971, lot of changes.
I left pre-Guiliani "crackhead city" New York in 1985 and moved to Mexico City, where I had a relative and friends living, stepped into a ready made social network, transition was fairly easy for me. In 1986 I moved to Guatemala, same deal, different country and culture and in late 1993, about a year after the Peace Accords went into place I returned to live in El Salvador. Here I am. Feel free to message me if traveling to or volunteering in Central America. Punto.
*****About El Salvador and Central America..mostly facts.

Why not El Salvador and Guatemala??

Guatemala - The Director of INGUAT, Institute of Tourism of Guatemala,
estimates that is possible for the country to reach an increase of 3
to 4 percent in the tourism industry for 2009.

The current financial crisis in developed countries could make
Guatemala, neighboring El Salvador and the rest of Central America a
very attractive travel destination suiting all budgets.

World renowned publications like
Forbes Magazine and others have described how much
'bang you get for
your travel buck' in Guatemala.

Guatemala's advantage is that we are
considerably cheaper than Costa Rica and we have much more to offer.
Actually factual.

Pacific Ocean destinations like Monterrico are a favored tourist hot
spot. The new surfing madness brings young visitors to the beaches.
There is sports fishing, a newly developed industry that is taking of
with great success, so are the newly discovered opportunities for
whale watching.

For water and adventure lovers there is river rafting in river Cahabon
and many others.
Guatemala will have the usual culture travelers. The Mayan culture is
a magnet that brings hundreds of people from all over the world to
explore Tikal, Chichicastenango and many archeological sites all over
the country. One of the favorites is Tak alik ab Aj, down on the
pacific coast near Rethaluleu. There are so many sites that the time
is usually not enough to visit them all.

*El Salvador

El Salvador boasts 'The Pompei of the Americas' Joya de Ceren, the
Pyramids of San Andres and Tzumal and the recently excavated Ruins of
Ciuhatan, City of Women.

Back in Guatemala, for nature lovers, Bird watching tours are also a trend that is
developing, so is the visit to the natural reserves like Laguna del Tigre
and la Lechua.

In El Salvador don't miss the nature preserve of Parque
El Imposible and the Cloud Forest of Montecristi in Parque El
Trifunio, summit is located where the borders of El Salvador,
Guatemala and Honduras meet. On a clear day one can view the Heart of
Central America from the Carribbean to the Pacific! Awesome! No
'tourist hordes'

Lake Atitlan in the Highlands of Guatemala is more majestic than ever, it is recommended as a
phenomenal natural wonder and some funky tourist towns like Panajachel
and San Marcos, a pristine Lake village, where continental travelers have a lot of fun and rub shoulders with our "Living Maya". And
Antigua is as beautiful and charming as ever.

In El Salvador 330 km. (220 miles) of unbroken pristine Pacific
beaches, bays, islands and mangroves await, along with World class
surfing, and yes El Salvador boasts charming colonial towns such as
Suchitoto, indingenous villages of Panchimalco and Santo Domingo de
Guzman , volcanoes, cloud forests and much much more. Uncrowded.

The world is in crisis, so is Guatemala, so is El Salvador, so is the
rest of Central America, so what!
Tourism, travel must go on. Tourism is a
motor for development.

The recommendations or precautions to not visit Guatemala and even more so El Salvador are unfair
and geopolitically motivated.

The following lists of countries are
promoted to the wazoo by "the powers to be" and they share every
single problem that both Guatemala & El Salvador possess; some of them additionally have
terrorism. Really. Sad but true.

China, India, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam,
Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, are all on the list of
the 50 most visited countries in the world. Last time we checked they
had crime, drugs, human rights violations, organized crime, poverty,
inequality; etc.

So what makes Guatemala and El Salvador different from these other countries? One
thing: the patronage they have, the promotion they get. "PR" Rumors
and bad press are nothing more than cheap online gossip, written
mainly by those who never even have traveled to Guatemala, El Salvador
or the rest of Central America!

There are of course security issues, as everywhere one will travel way from home, however out of thousands of visitors evey month only a handful experience problems and even some of those are preventable by using common sense and being aware!

Entonces, le esperamos……

*The week that Mumbai in India was taken hostage by terrorist, 'CNN'
ran advertisements to promote "The exotic adventure of India".
Colombia, who still exports the same amount of drugs as 10 years ago,
is also being promoted in the US, sponsored by the US. The same
applies for Mexico, never mind the atrocities of the internal drug war
that is now spilling over its borders.

*So, if anyone can give me a specific reason to not visit Guatemala or
neighboring El Salvador, or Honduras or Nicaragua if you prefer, using
comparative objective criteria, I will listen. ¡Digame!


The Myth: "El Salvador is the most dangerous country for travelers in Central America...."

The Reality: NOT SO, even in the congested capital city of San Salvador are many small and affordable Guest Houses, Bed & Breakfast and small Hotels catering to budget travelers on pleasant tree lined streets, in fact, next to San José in Costa Rica, San Salvador, El Salvador turns out to be the safest and most pleasant capital city to base in, in all of Central America, the Beaches of La Libertad are a 45 minute drive or less and Suchitoto is about an hour. Slightly more time on public transportation. The entire country can be seen in a few days, no 'all day' bus rides or drives, where you arrive exhausted.

People are friendly here in El Salvador, willing to help out travelers in a pinch. There exist now in El Salvador dozens of Couch Surfing members, so if traveling here try to contact a few Couch Surfing hosts, mostly locals, view well in advance of your arrival, especially if arriving holiday seasons such as December & New Years. Neighboring Guatemala and nearby Costa Rica boast many CS members while the number of members in Nicaragua has almost tripled in recent months.

I, a long term El Salvador resident, am suprised myself, despite the ongoing 'bad press' and 'bad rep' of El Salvador, how many travelers are now making El Salvador their first or second Central American destination. Few go away dissapointed.
Of course there exist serious security issues in many parts of Latin America so be aware, especially when traveling alone, and use common sense.
The more Spanish you know, the easier it gets

About Suchitoto in El Salvador
Sobre Suchitoto en El Salvador (English)

From Tim's El Salvador Bloq (English)

Courtesy of: (webpages in English)

Asociación de Reconstrucción y Desarrollo Municipal
Barrio El Centro, frente al Parque,
Cinquera, Departamento de Cabañas, El Salvador, C. A.
Organización sin fines de lucro.


The 'Really Real' El Salvador we know and love!

Don't miss this super and funny travelouge!!!!! A Bloq on Driving through Central America

An article of mine on Cinquera, a village in Central America (one of our pilot projects on Rural Ecotourism/Cultural & Historic sites here in El Salvador) enjoy.


Practical Travel Information

**Common Sense Travel Advice for El Salvador and the rest
of Central America for Sensible People!
**Remember, advice is cheap, it usually takes me a few
minutes of my time to answer some sensible travel
questions and to point you in the right direction, as
well don't just take my word for it, check with
others who have traveled to the areas you wish to
visit, usually you will find these persons, eager and
willing to aid you, on the travelers forums such as:
Join free: Thorntree Travel Forum

Check out the non profit hospitality portals to make local contacts
in each and every country you wish to visit:

Couch Surfing

Be Welcome

Hospitality Club

region and country to view tips, i.e.……
(Student Travel, has Student Airfare Booking on line) central-america/
Good Airfares, Bootsnall can
help you 'plan' your trip RTW or just to one city and return! Consolidator, Airfares, Hotels,
Tours , Latin America only. US Based consolidator website with toll free number.

BUSES Central American Bus Links Tica Bus International serving all
Central America King Quality International buses
Guatemala to El Salvador , Honduras and Costa Rica
Website in Spanish only. Excellent Service. Hedman Alas 1st Class Buses, Services all around
excellent services to major cities and destinations in Honduras and

Central America Information and Maps:

Lots of links on this site:

Surf this lengthy and informative website for Central
America only information:
in English, Spanish, Svenska

*Surfing these websites, then if you wish, posting and asking questions on
the various travellers forums and asking questions
should be a good start. Most of the websites feature an array of links to other local and regional travel sites in both English and Spanish.

I, the the writer, am a long term resident in El
Salvador and Guatemala . So I know the local customs,
culture, language and many subtle things travelers may have
not have the time to learn.
presently I am a volunteer co
ordinator/translator working with small projects based in El Salvador
assisting these small
non profit organizations to implement their receptive
eco and rural tourism projects as well as native crafts
projects. More information contact me by private
in English, Spanish, German, Italiano or Portuguese. I or another
volunteer will try to answer your inquiry within two (2) working days
when possible. IT and web design advice and assistance always

Hotels and Lodgings…depends on your budget, upscale
2-5 Star accommodations in Central America may be
easily booked on line,
For those travelers on Medium Budget, Low/Moderate Budget
to Upscale I would recommend the 'Alpha Travel Guide
to Central America ', a no nonsense, practical portal
about and for all the Central American countries in
English, Spanish and Swedish (see list above also)

No "bells and whistles"

If traveling on a low/backpacker budget you'll find
many small hotels and other unique lodging places in
El Salvador and the region that are quite economical
compared to European/North American prices, for
comfort and safety I would check out the B and B's
and Guest Houses in the cities and large towns and
even cheaper 'hostel/backpacker' style
accommodations are plentiful in travel destinations
such as Antigua and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala , Granada
in Nicaragua and many of the popular beach and mountain
destinations in Costa Rica .

There are many lodging
bargains in El Salvador , but make sure you do not stay
in the crowded, dangerous and polluted 'Centro' or
Downtown, when in San Salvador , stay in the western
part of town near Metrocentro Mall and the National
University, the lodgings located on pleasant tree
lined streets in nice areas, near San Salvador 's
'Bohemian District' for overview of nightlife check out:

La Luna Casa y Arte (español)

and the ads on the El Salvador section of Revue Magazine in English:
in pdf format.

View excellent bi lingual website for El
Salvador with dozens of links. English & Spanish

Nice virtual tour of El Salvador on...


A great site for Budget-Moderate travel has many other
El Salvador city pages such as: Suchitoto, the
Colonial City where this website is based….

San Salvador city guide….An amazing city with lots of cultural and night life!

Upload in pdf the 'Guatemala Revue Magazine' online….
You shall view many, many Adverts and a few very excellent
Articles on this on line edition, same as print edition, which will
give one a good overview of
Guatemalan and El Salvadorian travel, all the articles
Are archived.
pdf format only


The Guatemala Revue Magazine boasts large Guatemala
section, El Salvador section and smaller Belize and
Honduras sections. Monthly, in English.

**When Central Americans do travel within the region,
usually on weekends or holiday periods, they travel
with family members in large groups. This is called
'turismo interno' - internal tourism. There are
many fine local guides, tour operators and
driver-owners in El Salvador that advertise locally
and will take visitors on tour with advance notice at
reasonable prices. If you speak Spanish you are able
to save a lot of money rather than go with the more
expensive inbound tourism outfits, as well as meeting
and travelling with locals, at times the locals may
invite you to their home after the tour, especially in
El Salvador or Nicaragua ! The local tour operators
advertise in the classified sections of the daily
newspapers and on Spanish language local Internet
portals.During holiday periods El Salvadorian
operators conduct excursions in Mexico , Guatemala ,
Honduras, Nicaragua , Costa Rica and some go as far as
Panama, prices and quality vary so check around,
always ask to inspect the vehicle first and inquire
with local friends as to which companies are
reliable or contact writer of this bloq.
Many locals in El Salvador often travel weekends to
make pilgrimages to Catholic Shrines in Antigua and
Escuintla, Guatemala, etc. Religion is practiced here
in El Salvador by a large majority of people, Roman
Catholic or Evangelical, be polite and respectful of
other's beliefs and opinions at all times.

***Speaking Spanish. .If you don't at all start
learning at home before your departure, tapes, a
tutor, conversation club, classes, whatever, if on a
basic conversation level or above find someone to
practice with, it is my opinion that if you are
traveling, say 3-4 weeks in the region, it is really
useless to spend the first week or two in a "Spanish
School". If worse comes to worse bring a very good
phrasebook and do a lot of pointing. A tip: I've
lived down this way, way down south, 21 years and used
to escort a lot of visitors to the highlands/carib
coast/honduras/el salvador out of Antigua, Guatemala,
some couples had studied for several weeks at
Antigua's best Spanish Academies, in school proper
Castillan Spanish is taught, no "street lingo" nor
slang of any kind, as soon as we were in the
countryside, my clients froze up, when I ordered for
them and used the word 'vos' (slang familiar for
'you' in El Salvador and Guatemala ), these poor
gringoes asked what 'vos' meant! They were taught
to use Usted and Ustedes (formal) at all times and in
the Indian Markets in Chichicastenango and Panajachel
these people 'flipped out' literally when I began
speaking the local native Kak'chiquel and Quiche

I am listing a few good resources for Spanish
Schools: El Salvador List of Spanish Schools throughout Latin America &
Spain excellent resource!!

Recommend not to travel to rural or remote areas with expensive
cameras, videocam or other electronic
toys… a small digital camera will often do…
unless you are a Business or Upscale Traveler, staying
in a Hotel or resort with a room Safe and filming while traveling on
organized tour with security. Tour groups of four or more persons in
El Salvador, through any licenced tour operator or the ISTU
(Salvadorian Institute of Tourism) may make arragments in advance for
National Tourism Police officers in uniform to accompany your group,
no charge, however tipping per diem expected and polite. Same with
native eco and cultural guides who charge low fees compared to guides
in developed countries..

common sense, be aware while on the road and in cities and start learning
Spanish TODAY..HOY MISMO if you don't speak any!
Check out and for free on line
tutorials. !Hoy Mismo.......!

"This is the number one question. Way over hyped.
I've been living in El Salvador and Guatemala since the 70's. Even
with the current economic and political issues it is
still a lot better than back a couple decades. You do
all the common sense stuff listed in the Lonely Planet
guide (or any other Guidebook)…it increasingly reads
like it is written by someone's
grandmother…lawyers must do the editing. Some
paranoia in some situations is worth while….
Always be aware

If planning to camp in Central America, and not driving nor renting a
vehicle best to have a travel companion or two or three and carry
durable tents..if on a low budget and taking 'chicken buses' in and
out of remote areas this may be often a difficult some cases
best to pool funds and rent a 4WD for a few days or a week..
Best site to contact locals who know camping spots in or near their
local area
Two websites with informating on camping and 'boondocking' (may
include parking lots of Shopping Malls or Luxury Resorts!) in Central
America, including El Salvador are: Has list of campsites Mexico & Central America
and Good information and links.


New camping group online:

Remember you are not at home, where you know where and when to go or
NOT to go..locals on the street in many places in Latin America will
often give contrary advice and directions if you are lost, usually
just to be polite…

The writer's own Words…..
For El Salvador and the rest of Central America the
warnings about the same, same old, same old:
**don't walk alone or in pairs after dark and take a
taxi home (if you don't have a ride)even if your
lodging place is only three or four blocks away,
sometimes it only takes 50 meters outside the bar or
night spot if thieves are following you and they hit
hard and fast.

**Be especially aware, never paranoid, in second/third
class bus terminals, crowded outdoor markets and city
bus stops, never carry a digital camera or laptop on public
transport unless concealed. Between countries take the
international Tica Bus or other first class bus lines,
remember all of the thieves now have cell phones, most
travelers do not carry cell phones away from home so try and
keep a low profile, blend in if possible, got it?

"The Police don't really care much if you are not
injured in a crime, just as at home, the police
usually have more pressing things to deal with, and
the Consuls at the Embassies have seen hundreds of
Police Reports and issued many new Passports for a
hefty fee! Never carry your passport unless leaving
the country, carry a photocopy."

* At your own risk accept drinks, favors, gifts, lodgings or rides home from
total strangers, say those met in a 'bar', café or nightclub,
especially young women traveling alone or in pairs,
never tell strangers your itinerary and travel plans,
nor where you are staying. Guys, never take a 'bar
girl' you do not know back to your lodging place.
View the city entertainment guides above.

*Taxi Drivers and Hotel Employees are usually the
worst people you can ask about where to go out,
you'll usually always be directed to the most
expensive places, especially if you don't speak
Spanish. Start learning!



Many many humanitarian aid organizations exist in Central America and
require long or short term volunteers, with or without special skills,
all year around..view these non profit portals for no cost or low cost
opportunities, contacting yourself any and all organizations you are
interested in working with well in advance of your departure..from
another bloq of mine…"volunteering abroad, especially in the
developing countries, as a volunteer, long or short term, you'll make
valuable and lifelong friendships as well as trusted local contacts
which may lead into full time employment in your chosen field locally.
Ordinarily you'll have to pay your airfare and room and board to
volunteer with many small projects as most have barely enough money to
stay above water. Fundraising, a year round effort, often takes up
much of paid staff's time and energy! The 'pro' is you'll be there in
your target country or region and not online behind a computer screen
at home! The smiles of a child or family in need we have assisted
beats any computer screen or laptop for me by a wide mile!
More information view these web portals: in several languages. español (Has large El Salvador section) English English, Spanish.

If traveling to El Salvador , meetup with us and we'll point you in the right

Information Courtesy of "Welcome to Cinquera" in El Salvador
Pilot project development of sustainable rural cultural, crafts and
ecotourism 'off the beaten path' in El Salvador.
Feel free to contact us via the website at any time.

"All the information you require to travel to El Salvador & Central
America" Just ask.

bharatbook said...

So informative post sharing by you.

Tourism in El Salvador