Imagine fiery volcanoes, pristine beaches, misty & foggy jungles and sparkling lagoons, El Salvador is one of the exotic destinations that immediately comes to mind. The tiniest nation in Central America is laden with breathtaking natural wonders and stunning historical sites that is sure to leave you gasping in awe. El Salvador caters to all - be it party animals seeking a lively night-life as well as those who are keen on soaking up the culture and heritage of a country.
Kick-start the trip by heading over its capital - San Salvador. Try not to be intimidated by the chaotic crowd and the mind-numbing traffic jam. The city is delightfully laden with a treasure trove of numerous historic gems. Some of the notable highlights include the National Palace, seat of the government in the early 1900's and is now a museum and the restored National Theatre of El Salvador - most ancient theatre in Central America. Spend some time marvelling at the exquisite and stunning wooden ceiling at the beautiful church - La Ceiba de Guadalupe. Be sure to visit the modern National Anthropology museum - exhibiting the nation's history as well hosts cultural events.
If you're a hiker, you will absolutely love hiking through the mesmerizing cloud forest of Cerreo Verde. Sprawling 505 hectares (1,250 acre) of national park in central El Salvador, be sure to catch a glimpse of the three volcanoes. Adventurous at heart? Be sure to indulge in the many activities offered on the volcanic crater lakes at Coatepeque and Ilopandgo, either side of San Salvador, such as water-skiing, kayaking, fishing, sailing and so forth. Enjoy diving? Dive in to explore the rocky depths of Ilopango, whose waters project tepid temperatures all year.
One of the must-see and most significant ecological reserve in El Salvador is the majestic El Imposible. One can hope to spot as much as 500 different varieties of birds fly between the looming trees. Try to view the rare black hawk eagle while walking through the jungle, or cayonning down the steep river gorges. Barra de Santiago is not just one of the country's stunning and pristine beach, but is also renowned to be a nature reserve for butterfly and bird species.
One can stroll around the mangroves of the Zapote estuary by boat or canoe. Go white-river rafting on the rivers of Lempa,Guajoyo and Paz during the rainy season (May to October). The Paz river is also good for white river-rafting during the dry season (November to April). El Salvador's Pacific coastline is a haven for surfers. Take a trip to the South of San Miguel where one will find Las Flores. From there, the boats will head to Punta Mango and one will catch a glimpse of the biggest waves in the nation, catering to amateurs as well as experts. Some of the world-class Pacific breakers are at Sonsonate, El Zonte and La Union, a short drive from the capital.
Craving a strong adrenalin rush? Take the Apaneca Canopy Tour, an incredible zip-line circuit strung 150m (492ft) above the tropical forests of western El Salvador. Watch the Apaneca's coffee plantations from above as you marvel at the beautiful mountain scenery below. Were you aware aware that coffee used to be the nation's most important export in the mid-19th century? Be sure to admire the plantations spruced around the countryside with some of them offering tours to visitors.
When it comes to shopping, be sure to pick out a few souvenirs such as ceramics, hand-painted wood and wicker furniture. As for cuisine, some of the delicacies worth gorging into are Pupusa - a fried tortilla, filled with pork, cheese, refried beans or vegetables or Tamal de elote - cornflour batter with meat filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
The stay options in El Salvador is abundant with the best luxury hotels, swanky apartments and cheap accommodations being available for tourists who can choose which kind they prefer based on their requirements and budget.
El Salvador experiences two distinct seasons - dry (November - April) and rainy (May to October). For most travellers, visiting during the dry season would be ideal however those who are keen on surfing ought to try for the rainy season.