Santa Tecla to Santa Ana

Joya de Cerén

This is a major archaeological site and on the World Heritage List of UNESCO (the only one in El Salvador), not for spectacular temples, but because this is the only known site where ordinary Maya houses have been preserved having been buried by the ash from the nearby Laguna Caldera volcano in about AD 600. Buildings and construction methods can be clearly seen; a painted book and household objects have been found. All the structures are covered with protective roofing. The site has a small but good museum, café, toilets and car park. Official tours are in Spanish but English language tours available upon request.

San Andrés

The excavated archaeological site of San Andrés is halfway between Santa Tecla and Coatepeque on the estate of the same name (its full name is
La Campana de San Andrés
). A new museum at the site displays some of the ceramics found and others can be seen at the
Museo Antrpológico David J Guzmán (MUNA)
in San Salvador. The museum also features a special indigo section with information about this natural dye. El Salvador was the number one producer of indigo in the world during the colonial era. A large indigo
(processing basin) - probably the largest found in Latin America - was found at San Andrés during an archaeological excavation and has been preserved. There are good views of the nearby hills.

Lago de Coatepeque

The beautiful Lago de Coatepeque is a favourite weekend resort, with good sailing, watersports and fishing, near the foot of Santa Ana Volcano. Many weekend homes line the north and east shores, making access to the water difficult, but there are public
. The lakeside hotels are a good option for having a meal and use their infrastructure for the day. You can also get boat rides on the lake through the hotels or by independent fishermen. There are
aguas termales
(hot springs) on the opposite side of the lake. There are two islands in the lake -
which is close to the hotels, and
on the far side. The local Fiesta del Santo Niño de Atocha runs from 25-29 June.

Cerro Verde, Volcán Izalco and Santa Ana Volcano

From El Congo another road runs south, around the east shore of Lago Coatepeque. This road is locally known as Carretera Panorámica, due to the fantastic view of Coatepeque on one side and the mountains and valleys beyond the ridge. After reaching the summit, the paved road branches right, climbing above the south end of the lake to
Parque Nacional Cerro Verde
(2030 m) with its fine and surprising views of the Izalco volcano (1910 m), and Santa Ana volcano (2381 m), the highest volcano in the country. The road up to Cerro Verde is lined with beautiful flowers and half way up there is a mirador with a great view of Lago Coatepeque. Cerro Verde is probably one of the most beautiful places in El Salvador due to the special flora and fauna, breathtaking views and fine volcano trekking.

A 30-minute walk along a nature trail leads you around the crater ridge, to a series of miradors with views of Lago Coatepeque and Santa Ana volcano. For the best view of Izalco, go in the morning, although the afternoon clouds around the cone can be enchanting.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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