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El Salvador, in all it’s beauty, is often overlooked by travellers. Some unflattering history combined with a relative lack of positive publicity, leaves many backpackers simply avoiding it altogether. Though nearly every country in Central America has its share of problems, the stigma enveloping El Salvador seems to be the worst.

And it’s time for that to change.

The day we crossed the border from Guatemala was the day Donald Trump called El Salvador a shithole. That same afternoon, we sat on a beautiful beach in El Tunco, full of friendly, smiling locals and visitors alike, watching one of the most incredible sunsets of our lives.

The majority of overland travellers that do visit El Salvador stay in El Tunco. Typically they’re here for the outstanding surf or the surprisingly lively nightlife. Others use it as a base for exploring the surrounding towns, perhaps cliff jumping in the valley nearby.

El Tunco is also the spot for those catching the shuttle to Leon, in Nicaragua or Antigua, Guatemala.

 

While Santa Ana might be home to some of the best pupusas in the El Salvador, there is much more to Salvadorian cuisine than that. Take for example the weekly food festival in Juayua. Each weekend, this small village erupts with dozens of food stalls showcasing food from across the country.

San Salvador, for all it’s negative notoriety, is coming about fast. The city centre, once avoided by many, has undergone a huge facelift in the last couple of years and has all but shed its former image. As for the outlying neighbourhoods, it’s often best to avoid. Don’t make the same mistake we did.

For a more detailed breakdown of the phenomenal underdog that is El Salvador, check out our extensive backpacking guide!