We travelled with Cuscatlan for a 4 day and 4 night period in March. We stayed in a different location each night (Suchitoto, Coatepeque Lake, Ataco and the San Salvador). Our guide was Julio and the driver was Manuel.
Prior to our trip email correspondence with Claudia was generally okay, although there was some miscommunications (for example, I was told I would need to pay a deposit for hotels they had booked, but when I followed up (a couple of times) was finally told that I pay the guide but that I had already been told this – which I hadn’t). I also asked several times whether or not Cuscatlan takes cash or credit card. Claudia simply did not respond to this question in any of my emails. The costs was US$575 for each of us, so we really didn’t want to have to carry around an extra $1200 the whole time (since we were in Roatan for 10 days prior as well). When we got to El Salvador, Julio was also indirect when we asked about payment, and only once made some vague comment about it being a holiday and not being able to use the credit card machine. I assume they just prefer cash, and wish they would have been direct and up front about this. We paid cash in the end and had to eat a number of ATM charges for it. We were not impressed.
The tour itself was just okay. It might be because we really didn’t love El Salvador. We also felt baby-sat as other than the time in our hotel and an evening to ourselves in Suchitoto (which we spend in the lovely hotel: Los Aldendros de San Lorenzo – which was the highlight of our trip) we were with Julio, including most of our meals. We would have preferred to have more time and meals alone.
As for the actual places and activities, here are my thoughts:
Suchitoto: a cute town and safe enough to walk around in. As mentioned above, the hotel here was great: Los Aldendros de San Lorenzo. Beautiful, romantic and great service. Just loved it.
Los Volcanes National Park and Coatepeque Lake: The next day we went to do the volcano hike and the see lake. The winds were very high so we couldn’t do the longer hike and just did a small one. This was fine with me, as when I originally booked I requested the shorter hike and hadn’t brought proper footwear for the longer one. At Coatepeque Lake we stayed at Los Trozos Boutique hotel. The hotel grounds were lovely, but it was quite isolated and we couldn’t leave the hotel. There is no specific restaurant, and no menu. When I asked the owner about ordering food she just asked me what time we wanted to eat and if we were okay with fish. When we came down for dinner dishes just came out. The food was lovely, but honestly it was confusing and we didn’t know what we were getting or how much it cost (I don’t remember the exact amount for dinner; it wasn’t super cheap, especially for El Salvador, but we didn’t feel like we had been overcharged either).
Santa Ana and Santa Teresa Hot Springs: We were taken to lunch at Steak Lovers in Santa Ana and I want to comment on it as I’ve seen it mentioned in other reviews. Frankly, it’s nothing special. I could find a restaurant like this at home – why would I want to eat here in El Salvador? It reminded me of an Earls or a Moxies. Julio suggested one of us order the shrimp (which I did, assuming it would be delicious). It wasn’t – it just came out on sticks jabbed into half a pineapple. I guess the presentation was supposed to impress, but it didn’t. Santa Theresa Hot Springs on the other hand were fantastic. Beautiful, filled with locals (we didn’t feel like we were at a tourist trap), and overall just a fun relaxing time. Don’t miss them!!!
On the last day we went to the towns on the flowers route and did the buggy tour in Apaneaca. It was okay but not great. We had done a dirt bike tour in Cambodia previously that was similar in style to this tour and it was amazing so we probably had too high of expectations. The sights weren’t great and the roads exceptionally bumpy.
We spend the last night at a boutique hotel I had chosen – Casa ILB. It was lovely and I would recommend staying here in San Salvador.
I think Cuscatlan tours are good for a day trip and for people who have a long layover in San Salvador, but I would not do a multi-day trip with them again.
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