El Salvador

During the ruthless civil war of the 1980s, El Salvador was seldom out of the world’s headlines as a maelstrom of atrocities ravaged the country. The Peace Accords were finally signed in 1992 and the world’s attention turned to other matters while the Salvadorenos set about rebuilding their lives. Perhaps because of these lingering memories of violence, tourism has been slow to pick up in the decade since. Yet those who are trickling into El Salvador find a country just as blessed with stunning vistas as its neighbours. From imposing mountain chains and perfectly formed volcanoes to fertile coffee plantations and wild Pacific beaches, El Salvador is awash with natural beauty.

Travel in El Salvador is not as easy as the rest of Central America; it lacks tourist infrastructure and thus appeals to the more adventurous. It can also be a painful eye-opener for many westerners unused to the level of poverty suffered by much of the population. Its society is still racked by searing divisions of wealth with many people living in squalor and scraping out an existence selling anything they can lay their hands on from fruit to used batteries. Yet this is the reason why it can also be the region’s most rewarding destination. There are western sponsored projects all over El Salvador helping to develop education, health care, protect human rights and environmental consideration. Voluntary work with one of these organisations and gaining an insight into the real life struggles of a country on the mend is an experience that you will savour forever.

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