We had always thought we might head to El Salvador after Guatemala but we did literally no research until the day before we left Guatemala, and so our next week was decided on a whim.
It was a great week but we didn’t see a huge amount of the country.
Unusually, we travelled somewhere purely for a specific hostel. Originally our plan was to head to the less than pleasant capital of San Salvador but Katy read about a great hostel in a place called Santa Ana.
Santa Ana is not a tourist town by any stretch, in fact apart from the few other people at our hostel we saw absolutely zero tourists. The centre has a pleasant colonial Parque Central square surrounded by street food vendors and with lots of locals hanging out.
Back towards our hostel was the sprawling market (as it turned out, not even the main market but still huge) which exclusively sold local goods and was an interesting look into a market purely for locals, not tourists.
So the town was nice but what about the hostel? Well Katy had found paradise – it was the best hostel we’ve stayed in during our entire trip…so far. The owner was an awesome guy, great to talk to, the room was spotless, it had a pool (with basketball!), it had the best kitchen we’ve ever seen in a hostel, the WiFi worked well and it sold cheap beer and had a wine cellar.
After my whine about the hostels of Guatemala in the last post, Casa Verde pretty much epitomised my dream hostel. There were no gimmicks, no money making schemes, it just gave travellers what they wanted at a good price.
So because of this, we spent 4 nights relaxing at Casa Verde, cooking lunch and dinner in the fabulous kitchen, and swimming.
We did go out for one type of food though – pupusas. They are El Salvador’s national dish and I fell in love with these small discs filled with cheese and beans – if Katy hadn’t been there to stop me I would have eaten them 3 times a day.
There was a volcano nearby (called Santa Ana Volcano) which we would have loved to have climbed, but on no occasion did both of us feel completely well the whole time, so we didn’t make it. It’s probably one of the best value volcano treks you can do though, as you can get there on a public bus and then only have to pay a few dollars for security and a little more to cross someone’s land.
Our second stop was El Cuco, and a welcome sight of the beach again. This time our destination was La Tortuga Verde, an eco beach resort.
El Cuco itself was a dusty town with not a lot in the way of tourist accommodation, but a short taxi ride down the beach road took us past numerous surf resorts, and eventually yo La Tortuga Verde.
It was a strange mix, an eco beach resort for budget travellers. We couldn’t complain – we spent a day and a half swimming, sunbathing and messing about in the impressive waves.
It even had it’s own resident pelican. Which you didn’t dare look at too long as it came running towards you and tried to peck you.
The downside was that it was in the middle of nowhere, with expensive food and drinks, and some indifferent staff.
From our limited time in El Salvador we found the country to be friendly and easy enough to get around, as well as very good value for money. El Salvador uses USD which is useful, however we had problems withdrawing money – our Mastercard refused to work in any ATMs and our Visa cards only let us withdraw $100 at a time.
Both Casa Verde and La Tortuga Verde cost us $25 per night for a double room.
To get to Santa Ana we booked a package from Antigua which included a shuttle to Guatemala City and then a pullman bus (we don’t remember the company) to Santa Ana. For this we paid an exorbitant 300Q each, when the pullman bus was only 120Q per person (we were given an envelope of cash to buy our own tickets!) and there’s no way it would have cost 160Q per person to get to Guatemala City.
The cost to Santa Ana is the same as San Salvador, you just need to ask the driver to let you off. Then a $5 taxi took us to Casa Verde. The Guatemala/El Salvador border crossing was super easy and cost us nothing.
From Santa Ana to El Cuco it was complicated. The bus to San Salvador cost $1.35 each and took around an hour. We then had to take a bus to a different bus station which cost $1 for both. Then we took a bus to San Miguel for $3 each, then another bus to El Cuco for 50c each. Finally, a taxi to Tortuga Verde was $5. The entire trip took 8 hours, and unfortunately it is just a case of asking around at each stop, as many companies or private buses run various routes – it is difficult to give exact information.
Most importantly, 3 pupusas cost $1 🙂
All costs for 2 people over 7 nights
Accommodation – £103.76
Transport – £71.05
Eating Out – £42.23
Groceries – £33.00
Coffee/Drinks/Snacks – £17.81
Alcohol – £12.08
Misc – £4.05
Laundry – £3.89
Total – £287.87
Per Day – £41.12