"A NEW ERA IS DAWNING, WITH DOORS RE-OPENING TO TRAVELLERS AND HEARTFELT WELCOMES FROM THE LOCALS STANDING BEHIND THEM."
The littlest country in Central America will only be known by many outsiders for its systemic gang warfare, record-breaking murder rates and bloody 12-year long civil war. However, if you step foot inside and peek behind the headlines, your perception is sure to change.
We haven't met locals on our Latin American trip as friendly and welcoming as those in El Salvador. With a landscape and national identity battered and bruised from so much violence, the hospitality and helpfulness we encountered every step along the way was a real shock to the system.
So, don't avoid El Salvador as so many do. Take a chance and get off the well-worn surfer route and you may just be in for a wonderful experience.
so, you're thinking of going to el salvador?
Safety is understandably going to be one of your main concerns. We took the same pre-cautions as elsewhere in Central America but also more readily sought out the advice of locals, particularly those working in hostels, about no-go areas. Fronteras invisibles (invisible borders) is a key concept here and something that travellers should be fully aware of - you need to know the lay of the land in any city as there will be certain gang-controlled neighbourhoods which you just cannot enter. Know where they are in advance and how to avoid them as these are the pockets where the majority of the country's crimes occur.
El Salvador is a hugely popular surf destination and the south of the country is home to some great breaks. El Tunco beach is backpacker central and popular with weekending locals but we weren't huge fans of it at all; El Cuco further down the coast was much more our style. The sleepy towns, coffee fincas and waterfall hikes dotted along the Ruta de la Flores are a real treat whilst those interested in coming face-to-face with history should make a visit to El Mozote in the north-east.
But if you're looking for somewhere in particular, why don't you type it here and see if we've been!
"IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, ONE CAN STILL CATCH SIGHT OF THE STILLNESS OF TIME."