Travel to El Salvador – Episode 491

categories: central america travel

Travel to El Salvador - Amateur Traveler Episode 491

Hear about travel to El Salvador as the Amateur Traveler talks to Joe Baur of about his recent visit to this Central American country.


El Salvador is a country the size of Massachusetts with about the same population (6 million) which makes it the most densely populated country in Central America. Long in the news for its civil war, and still the home of gang violence, Joe found an El Salvador that defies this bad news as he journeyed there for a week.

Joe started in urban Santa Tecla which was the capital of the country in the mid 1800s, a smaller city just outside the current capital of San Salvador. Joe calls it an “artsy bohemian city”.

From there he traveled to the colonial city of Suchitoto with its cobblestoned streets. Joe wanted to visit Suchitoto after reading the book “El Salvador Could Be Like That” by Joseph B. Frazier who was a reporter in El Salvador during the Civil War. Suchitoto was the home of FMLN during that conflict.

In the El Salvadoran National Park, Cerro Verde or Parque Nacional Los Volcanes Joe hiked up to view the young volcano Izalco (formed in 1770).

Joe ended his trip at El Tunco on the Pacific coast which is a haven for surfers.

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Show Notes
El Salvador
San Salvador
State Department El Salvador Travel Warning
Santa Tecla, El Salvador
Santa Tecla, El Salvador
Saludemos El Salvador: Walking the Streets of Urban Santa Tecla
Saludemos El Salvador: Into Colonial Suchitoto
El Salvador Could Be Like That by by Joseph B. Frazier
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN)
Saludemos El Salvador: Trekking Along Cerro Verde
Saludemos El Salvador: Beach Bumming and Waterfall Jumping in El Tunco
Boca Olas
Remembering the war in El Salvador and what it cost journalism


Travel to Moscow – Episode 490

Hi Chris,

As always another great podcast from the Amateur Traveler, my favorite travel podcast.

I had the opportunity to visit Moscow in the summer of 2005. Our small group visited Moscow for several days before & after traveling to southern Siberia for a whitewater rafting trip on the Katun River. Moscow was our gateway and staging city for traveling to Barnaul Siberia. There are definitely lots of interesting things to see and do in Moscow. Good food and restaurants too.

– the Kremlin museums are nice
– the changing of the guard at Kremlin is impressive
– St Basils and Red Square are amazing
– visiting the Lenin mausoleum and saying hello to Vladimir is one of the most bizarre and surrealistic experiences I have ever had. I do recommend it.

Probably the most memorable overall experience was simply standing in Red Square a taking in the entire surrounding view with beautiful St Basil at one end, the Kremlin and Lenin tomb on one side, and old soviet “department store” (mall) opposite. As a child of the Cold War it was a pinch-me experience.

There are lots of police and security scattered about Red Square. We had been warned to avoid them. As I walked the square, I would zig zag my way to avoid encountering police. Supposedly, a common scam was for them to ask to see your documents (passport), claim there was a problem or discrepancy, and then offer to ignore it if you paid them a bribe. This was in 2005. Not sure if it’s still an issue but I probably wouldn’t give them an opportunity to test their integrity if you can avoid it. I had no problems myself.

I also recommend visiting Lenin’s mausoleum. It was the most bizarre surrealistic experience I have ever had in my travels around the world. You must wait in a long line but it moves rather quickly as the minders don’t really allow you to linger too long. You descend a darkened staircase with a military guard lighted in spotlight at bottom of stairs. You are directed into room where Vladimir himself is displayed in repose in a glass case in all his glory. You actually can get relatively close and the controlled orderly procession has you walk 3/4 around the leader. It is darkly lit with military honor guard in corners of room. No cameras allowed. After exiting, you ascend staircase and your back out in the hubbub of Red Square. It’s an odd experience and perhaps not one for everybody but I found it fascinating and would recommend it.

Unfortunately I missed seeing Chairman Mao in Beijing as we were there on wrong day for viewing. Perhaps someday I can chalk up the communist trifecta by seeing Lenin, Mao, and Kim Jong-il.

The logistics of visiting Russia was probably the most difficult that I have encountered in all my travels. I have traveled to all 7 continents and visited some rather obscure places and countries. And yet I found the logistics of visa, travel reservations, permits, and bookings for Russia to be most difficult of any place I have traveled. (It rivals if not surpasses traveling to Tibet.) And this was with my rafting company taking care of most things. I couldn’t imagine taking care of everything completely on my own. I must condition this comment with the fact that my trip to Moscow and Russia was in 2005. So I’m not sure if the logistics of traveling there is still as difficult. It probably is easier now.

Moscow is one of the great historic cities of the world. I highly recommend it. You can easily spend 3-4 days there. It would probably be best to combine it with visiting other cities or destinations and not just a as a single destination.

Thanks for your continued podcasting work. I always look forward to the next episode.

Randy, Annapolis MD

Amateur Traveler Trip – Cambodia April 2016 – 9 days

Travel to El Salvador - Amateur Traveler Episode 491

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

4 Responses to “Travel to El Salvador – Episode 491”



This podcast made me happy! I love El Salvador so much, it’s one of my favorite places in the world for many of the same reasons that Joe brought up. Gorgeous beaches, fantastic national parks, Suchitoto (and Los Almendros! Love that hotel!) and the fact that Salvadorans aren’t annoyed with too many tourists, and don’t mind showing off their amazing country to travelers willing to make the trip. I’d like to add that Juayúa and the Ruta Las Flores is a great destination for less adventurous tourists, with solid tourist infrastructure, trails, waterfalls, handicrafts, and easy transport connections to Guatemala City. If you speak a little Spanish, other spots to see include massive Coatepeque crater lake, with some lovely little hotels and restaurants right on the water; Perquín, the old revolutionary capital that’s now a semi-developed base for ecotourism; Bahia de Jiquilisco, if you want to support El Salvador’s nascent sea turtle protection programs; and La Palma, the handicrafts center founded by Fernando Llort, plus a side trip into the cool cloud forests of El Mirador del Mundo. Joe was right, everyone who spends time there want to become an informal ambassador of El Salvador!

Please note that the State Department warning that says 34 US citizens have been killed in El Salvador since 2014 ignores the fact that their infamous organized crime organizations (gangs, maras, whatever you want to call them) are transnational, and most (if not all) of those deaths involve US citizens who are involved with gangs. The average USAmerican tourist is not going to have any problems with crime, much less violent crime. Obviously you want to travel smart, but I’ve spent months, much of it alone (as a middle-aged woman) working and traveling in El Salvador, using public transport, and have never even had problems with pickpockets or bribe-happy police officers. 11/11 would go there again and again.

Joe Baur


Glad you enjoyed the podcast, Paige, and that you’ve had a chance to travel El Salvador yourself!

Morning Dubai Desert Safari


Good to hear that you really enjoyed and happy with podcast. EI Salvador is a amazing place to spend some memorable time. Wish to visit that place in future.



Great Episode! I too really enjoyed my trip to El Salvador. Even though I was there on a mission trip with our church we did have a “tourist” day. I would like to add a recommendation for the waterfall hike in El Impossible National Park. this is easily one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. We used Impossible tours ( to provide our guides and they were great.

I also must echo what the guest said, the people are great and we never felt like we were in any danger what so ever.

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