El Salvador
Departamento de Sonsonate

Here you’ll find travel reports about Departamento de Sonsonate. Discover travel destinations in El Salvador of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

14 travelers at this place:

  • Day136

    Juayúa, El Salvador

    March 2, 2017 in El Salvador

    Ruta de las Flores, the flower route.

    Well we made it - in case you were wondering. It was a little over three hours in a packed, sticky, bumpy bus, with a midway change over in Sonsonate. If there was an opposite to the phrase 'no sweat', I would use it here, my spinal channel made the Waikato river look like a dried up creek.

    Juayúa (pronounced why-oo-ha) is a tiny agricultural town, not famous for anything other than it's location on the (now fading) flower route. Ruta de las Flores was once a beautiful highway lined with blossoming flowers and colourful murals, punctuated with delicious coffee, intrepid hiking, waterfalls and views to die for. Nowadays a lot of the magic is gone, at least it feels that way...

    As the internet at La Sombra was horrible, we didn't receive any confirmation on our accommodation booking. Therefore our first activity in Juayúa was finding a place to stay. On our second attempt we found Hotel Anáhuac. Conveniently they had received a booking in our name and we quickly got settled into two fantastic private rooms. Spacious, cool and trendy with modern art, tiled floors and white plaster walls (plus ensuite!). Probably our most luxurious accomodation since Chicago! To top it off, they had specialty coffee and an avocado tree. Great find Cat!

    For the inconvenience of finding food, and the lack of appealing options during our transport, we had not yet eaten and hangry humans were beginning to appear. La Cafeta sprung itself upon us with a Sydney-esque decor and menu. We seized the opportunity for a well overdue and delicious late breakfast and as a result, moods started to turn. Phew! The remainder of the morning disappeared around the hotel, reading, swinging in hammocks and catching up on the internet and lost sleep.

    Actually, there's not an awful lot to do in Juayúa, so once we had circumnavigated town we decided we better sign up for one of the two tours on offer. Coffee and waterfalls have both been reasonably well covered already so it was almost a flip of a coin as to which we chose. In the end, the scent of the local bean for sale at the front desk, combined with the prospect of unlimited coffee sampling won us over. Specialty coffee 'Lechuza Cafe' here we come.

    You're probably reading this and thinking 'more coffee?? Boring!'. Well I was bordering on that same thought when we piled into the tray of a truck to depart on a private tour. At $20US pp, my head was spinning at the opportunity cost. However I'm delighted to report it was worth every penny and if you want to find out more about your daily black magic, I'm aiming to post a seperate blog all about it.

    In hindsight, we shouldn't have done the tour so late. We ended up consuming a fairly hefty amount of coffee which didn't stop until around 5.30pm. It's fair to say we didn't sleep too well that night!

    MERC got out twice in Juayúa. Elevation-wise the running was brutal, but the heat was slightly more forgiving than El Tunco meaning for once in a long time I actually enjoyed a run! We're yet to engage in combat with a dog, but we're (I mean Mike) very wary of their presence. We had a couple of narrow misses up in the hills here...hopefully that's the worst we see!

    Ataco (cue: dad jokes) is another stop on Ruta de las Flores which we visited briefly by chicken bus. There's really not a lot to say about this place aside from some great murals and a ginormous cross. I almost felt sorry for the place, with it's dwindling volume of tourists and fading markets it felt a bit used and abused. The feeling was swiftly forgotten by the arrival of a darn good pork tortas, clearly demonsrating the extent of my emotional allegiances.

    On a hot afternoon in Juayúa we trudged down to the local waterfalls and thoroughly enjoyed a refreshing dip in the man made pool. The water was spurting out of the middle of the cliff from a natural spring, caught halfway down in a man made pool, then disappearing back into the cliff to power a hydro dam. All very confusing to one who just wanted relief from the heat.

    By the sounds of things we got out of Juayúa in the nick of time. Saturday brought markets and lots and lots of people. We snuck out on a very sweaty chicken bus to Sonsonate and upon arriving, met queues and queues of people waiting to board our bus in the opposite direction. SO thankful that wasn't us! We made good time to San Salvador, covering the distance in not much more than 2.5hrs at a per head cost of $2USD. Making money!
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  • Day339

    Bienvenidos A El Salvador!

    April 20, 2017 in El Salvador

    We made a bad call and rather than taking the scenic route we we ended up crawling through the clogged roads of Guatemala City. After a challenging 3 hours or so we finally reached the Guatemalan/El Salvador border. Then had negotiate a vehicle export and a vehicle import, which isn't easy even in your own language! On top of that it was stinkingly hot so we were pretty shattered by the end of it. We even couldn't be bothered to go to the animal section so Maya is technically an illegal alien in El Salvador!

    First impressions of El Salvador, reputedly the most dangerous country in the world after Syria, are good. Roads are decent and everything seems pretty clean and modern. We drove a further hour to the nice town of Juayua (why-You-a), and had a lovely meal of ribs and veggie laguna (you can guess who had what!).

    We needed to stall a day, as it can be a bit dangerous not doing some things not on the weekend when there aren't a lot of people about, so we spent the day enjoying the hotel garden, enjoying pupusas (the local delicacy), and exploring the nice little town.

    In the morning we did a short walk to Los Chorros (7 Waterfalls), and we were simultaneously worried and reassured that there were 4 heavily armed army and policemen. There were a bunch of lovely pools and I was gutted I didn't have my swimmies with me. Half an hour later we were back in town and weekend food market had kicked off. Jo had an amazing massive shrimp and steak kebab (for 5 bucks!) and I had decent ribs (I know, again!).
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  • Day40


    February 5, 2017 in El Salvador

    Juayúa was our first stop along the Rutas de las Flores.
    I never quite figured why it's called Rutas de las Flores. Other than expected there are not a lot of flowers. It's just a few brightly colored colonial towns along a winding road - but maybe these picturesque towns are supposed to be the flowers.
    Juayúa was the biggest of the 3 towns we visited with a population of 10,000. It is famous for it's weekend "feria gastronomica" with a lot of stands selling lots of good food. We spend the afternoon there trying different things. I had mashed yuca with some toppings and a whole pineapple filled with fresh juice and rum. ☺
    The next morning we took a little hike up to "Los Chorros de Calera" - a series of waterfalls. The fascinating thing here was that the water just seemed to be coming out of the fractured cliff wall and not from a river or something.
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  • Day43

    Los Cobanos

    February 8, 2017 in El Salvador

    After over 3 weeks I was finally back at the beach!
    Los Cobanos was a really quiet place with not a lot of tourists. It was one of these places that might fill up with locals heading from the city to the beaches on weekends but as we got there during the week we kind of had it to ourselves. We stayed at Casa Garrobo which seemed to be the only place that had guests at all. It was right at the beach and except for hanging out there and wander along the beach to watch the locals prepare freshly caught fish or check out one of the many empty restaurants there was not much more to do.Read more

  • Day43

    Sonsonate vs. San Miguel

    February 8, 2017 in El Salvador

    The whole idea started with Andrew who wanted to watch a soccer match in Sonsonate. The game was at night but as there wouldn't be any bus to go back to Los Cobanos from Sonsonate he tried to find someone to take him there. That's how he met Charly the owner of a Tienda/Comedor close to our hostel. Charly offered to take him there and when we all suddenly got really excited and wanted to join he got his friend driving all of us in his mini van.
    The game was Sonsonate vs. San Miguel and apparently it was a really big game for the country.
    The stadium was pretty small but everybody there got really excited about us. Some guy showed up and kept on buying us drinks and all kind of food they were selling in the stadium. He made sure we didn't feel bad about him spending money on us by showing us a huge stack of dollars from his pocket.
    He asked us lots of questions about germany and if we could help him go there. When he asked Sebastian to take something for him to Germany we figured it's best to not speak spanish anymore.
    The first half of the game we watched from our "seats" on the steps close to Charly and our other new friend. But when the second half started we decided we want some more action and joined the crowed singing and dancing right behind the goalpost.
    We had a lot of fun there and I guess we made our way in a lot of selfies by the local soccer fans.
    Unfortunately Sonsonate lost and this made people leave even before the game was over. But we stayed till the very end.
    After the game our new friend asked us to join everybody for one beer in a bar close by. We decided one beer couldn't hurt and followed these guys out of the stadium. This is when it got a little weird. To enter the bar you had to knock on the door. Before they would open they always checked the street. People in the bar were really friendly (when I almost used the wrong bathroom the whole bar started pointing me to the female bathroom - which was in the kitchen). But when our new friend invited us to his home and we declined everybody became really pushy about us going with him. Only Freddy said that it was probably better to go home. So we decided not to push our luck and just get out of there. Now they all got really pushy. People followed us out of the bar and even tried to convince our driver to take us to the house of our new friend. So we were pretty happy when we were all sitting in the van heading back to Los Cobanos. We asked Charly about the guy but the only thing he said was that he is a friend but it's not a good idea to go with this people when everybody is really drunk.
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  • Day46

    Juayúa, El Salvador

    March 2, 2017 in El Salvador

    Before you ask, it's pronounced "why-ooh-ah". But none of us have managed to grasp nor remember this in the last couple of days we've been here.

    Juayúa is one of a few villages that make up the Ruta de las Flores or the Route of Flowers, that extends 34km through the mountains of eastern El Salvador. To be honest though the area didn't particularly offer what was promised - beautiful villages filled with culture, scenery for hiking and mountain biking...and we didn't see an awful lot of flowers either. You can see that maybe it was a lovely area once upon a time, but currently it isn't really one for the memory bank.

    Turning up we had no accommodation booked due to shoddy internet in El Tunco making even just loading a a news article painful so we had to make the rounds at the hostels we knew of. The first one turned us away because they were at capacity. The second one almost did too until Mike realised that Cat's name was on the booking sheet as we'd emailed them a day or so prior but had no reply (or thought we hadn't) due to the internet. So it turned out we had a booking after all. Win.

    One thing this area is well known for is coffee, given the prime conditions for coffee plantations. The mountains here are covered with them. The owners of the hostel happened to also own an organic speciality coffee farm/business and considering so far we'd only seen the farms and none of the processing afterwards, we thought we'd check it out and find out more.

    We piled into the back of a pickup truck headed for the hills. First stop was the the mill, where the coffee berries arrive freshly picked from the plantation. Here they go through a mixture of different
    processes, depending on the quality and the ultimate destination of the coffee beans, whether it be for commercial or specialty coffee.

    The commercial coffee is immediately washed and rid of the pulp of the berry, leaving just the beans - whereas the specialty coffee skips this process and goes straight to the next step which is drying. By leaving the skin of the berry on and therefore keeping the honey inside too, this means the speciality coffee beans then absorb these flavours in the drying process.

    Drying also has options too. For the commercial coffee in El Salvador it's usually dried just laid out on the ground on tiles, picked up again at the end of each day and then relaid out again the next morning - repeated for about a week. Specialty coffee is usually dried using African beds. These are made of a rectangular wooden frame with mesh for the coffee to be laid out on and rotated every hour for about 6-7 hours each day before being taken in for the evening too. Given the attention and employees required to be present for this method, it's much more expensive which is why the commercial coffee is not dried this way. When the coffee has reached about 10% humidity (vaguely known by the workers but also tested by a machine) it's sufficiently dried. Once dried, the coffee is sorted again by density, the heavier the better. Defects (such a bug nibbles) are counted and/or taken out and again this decides the quality of the coffee. After all that, it's ready for roasting.

    From the mill we went to the coffee plantation for one of the types of coffee beans produced by Lechuza. It's basically the end of coffee picking season here so not a lot of berries were left on the trees but we got the gist of the set-up, with wind-breaking trees either side and larger trees down the middle off the coffee trees to offer shade from the sun.

    Lastly we headed to a nearby house which had a shed to the side which was almost as if it was out of some trendy home or interior design magazine and somewhat out of place in the depths of a country like El Salvador. Inside was a state of the art coffee machine, a roasting machine and some grinders. Oh and lots of coffee. The boys were somewhat losing it at this point but first we had to learn how to roast some coffee. Controlled temperatures, timers and graphs are all involved in ensuring each different type of coffee bean is roasted to perfection. It took about 12 minutes to roast 9 pounds of coffee beans, taking them from white/pale yellow to chocolatey brown and losing a pound of weight in the process.

    Finally it was time to sample the coffee. First we tried the freshly roasted coffee using chemex but it was quite strong and bitter. Usually the coffee is rested for three or four days after roasting before being used or sold. Subsequent coffees were made with rested coffee and before we knew it we'd been made about 4 or 5 different coffees each. Espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos - you name it, he'd make it. It's fair to say the boys were loving it. Cat and I aren't such massive fans of coffee so we were leaving this one to the boys for the most part!

    It was an interesting excursion, realising how many different processes go into making the coffee beans reach the point to where they can be used to make a drink. I think it's made us all appreciate why coffee can cost as much as it does at home sometimes too, given the amount of people that have worked on it before it even hits the cafe or the shelves.

    All coffeed out, the following day we caught a bus to one of the other towns on the Ruta de las Flores called Ataco. Unfortunately not just made of tacos as the name may suggest, it was another little village town which is essentially a bigger version of Juayúa, with many colourful murals lining the streets. It wasn't an overly memorable place otherwise but it gave us somewhere different to wander around for a couple of hours.

    That afternoon we trudged to a waterfall looking for an escape from the heat. After wandering for over the expected 30minutes we were starting to wonder if we'd taken the wrong path when we stumbled across the waterfall we were after. Not wonderfully spectacular but the water was coming straight from the mountains so it offered a very fresh dip!

    Our last morning in Juayúa required a revisit to a wicked cafe we'd found on our first day for brekkie, a random stop at a reptile museum which had some seriously large snakes and a quick feast at the weekend markets that were starting up. We're told Juayúa gets rather busy on the weekends due to said markets so we were happy to avoid the crowds. Time for some more chicken bus trips - this time heading for the capital, San Salvador.
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  • Day117

    Juayúa, El Salvador

    June 15, 2016 in El Salvador

    How long: 4 Nights
    Stayed: Casa Mazeta
    Travelling with: Solo and Tom

    Beautiful trip along the coast to Sonsonate. So many stunning beaches. Easy change in Sonsonate and on to Juayua on the hottest chicken bus in the world. Mashed in beside a poor little old man who I was sweating all over. Great chats and he offered to take me out driving following day and show me the countryside. Asked if I had friends in Juayua and when I said no that I was alone, I corrected me and said I had him as he was now my friend. So nice :)
    Arrived at Casa Mazeta early evening and met the only two other guests...Erin who I had shared a dorm with in El Tunco, and Kane...both Aussies. Lovely homely hostel....just like a cosy house share. Cooked for the first time in weeks (months) and spent the evening watching movies with my housemates. Kane was planning to do the waterfall tour next day so decided to jump in with him ....despite the lingering cold.
    Set off at 8am with Kane and our guide Elmer and Billie the dog from the hostel. Picked up out second guide Jose and 2 more dogs at his house and off we went. What a wonderful day! Hiking through coffee finca first and then through stunning rain forest to the first of the 7 waterfalls I the day. Elemer was very informative about the landscape and particularly the coffee finca. He's been guiding for 12 years....despite looking like he was still 12. For the next 5 hours we walked through stunning hills and waterfalls and even got to grapple down one which was great fun. At the last one the boys made us a delicious lunch and then we headed for home. Probably one of the most enjoyable hikes of my trip so far!!
    Flaked on the couch after a little walk around town to check out Juayua. My cold definitely catching up with me. Was still on the couch when Tom arrived a few hours later. Had a little wander with him and then back to the hostel to cook and slob some more.
    Next day headed off on the chicken bus with Tom to check out more of the towns on the Ruta. Beautiful drive through the countryside, unfortunately the flowers that give this route it's name are not in bloom at the moment. It's still very beautiful but i'd say when they are in bloom it is something else. First stop was Ataco. Beautiful little town about 30 mins from Juayua. Much more touristy but like so much of El Sal there were no gringos in sight...apart from us of course. We spent the next few hours wandering around and checking out all the beautiful murals. Small cobbled streets and colourful houses abound. Had lunch in a little garden place that I think was Italian and was bizarrely playing Christmas songs in Italian...Andrea Bottelli Christmas compilation is my guess. Very funny. Bit more wandering and souvenir buying and then jumped back on the chicken bus and made our way to Apanece.
    Much smaller and less cute than Ataco but still nice. Not much to attract the tourists so it was quiet. Had a quick lap of the town and then back on the bus for home. Juayua was bustling and people set up for the weekend food festival. Back to the hostel and the evening bus deposited 3 Irish (Eoin, Majella & Eilis) to Casa Mazeta. Yay...people to watch the match with :)
    Up at 7 next morning to watch poor Ireland getting hammered by Belgium. 4 very subdued Irish on the couch by the end. Then onto the rugby...more disappointment . Had planned to move to suchitoto but really couldn't manage to drag myself away from the home comforts of Casa Mazeta so decided to stay another night. Went to check out the food festival with the Irish and Tom in the afternoon and later that night roused ourselves from our laziness and headed out with Susanna (who jointly owns the hostel) and some of her friends. Live music and good company led to a fun night and of course bitter end Roche stayed on with the two local boys when the others very sensibly went home(the Irish were hiking next day so they called it a night at a very sensible hour). Had great Spanglish chats with Cesar and his brother Diego and then they walked me back to the hostel after we had exhausted all options to find some Bachata....me of course.
    Needless to say my plan to be up and out by 8am for the long trip to Suchitoto went out the window next morning. Finally got on the road by 10....long day and 5 chicken busses ahead.
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  • Day247

    Ruta de Las Flores

    April 5, 2016 in El Salvador

    As is often the case, our intended route to Santa Ana changed in the colourful town of Ahuachapan where we were convinced that the longer hillier Routa de las Flores was worth the effort. We passed some heavily loaded firewood carts as we climbed the first hill, had a lunch/juggling break in Apaneca's nice central park, and rolled on towards more beautiful volcanos adorned with patchwork forests of coffee and shelter trees. As we started into the last big hill of the day we came to a coffee processing facility where the smell of coffee drew us in for a sample, but the giant map of coffee farms and little roads around the volcanoes really caught our interest as it looked like there was a way to circumnavigate Volcan Santa Ana on dirt roads through coffee plantations. We reluctantly got back on our bikes and started up again, enjoying beautiful views over the valley as we climbed. We camped at a church outside of Los Naranjos and had to stake our tents well for the first windy night in a long while - at least it made for a comfortable sleeping temperature!Read more

  • Day366


    July 7, 2016 in El Salvador

    Den sonntäglichen Markt mit 80 versch. Speisen verpassen wir leider (inkl. Meerschweinchen und gegrilltem Leguan). Stattdessen nehmen wir ein kühles Bad in einer halb natürlichen Badeanlage, welche sich der lokale Stromkonzernbesitzer in den jungle bauen liess.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Departamento de Sonsonate, Sonsonate

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