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“Just okay”

Cuscatlan Tours - Day Tours
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Sonsonate
Attraction details
Reviewed June 26, 2013

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.

3  Thank Candace8789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 13, 2013

Myself and a friend recently traveled to El Salvador for vacation, fearing we'd be trapped at the resort all week, I promptly took to the internet to find day tours to take, and we are so glad we found Claudia at Cuscatlan Tours. The first tour was to a Coffee Plantation and shopping in the small towns. Our guide Jorge was very knowledgeable and entertaining. We had a great day and saw some beautiful views along the way. If you do this tour bring a jacket it gets cold in the mountains. The second tour we did was to Volcanoes National Park and the Santa Teresa Hot Springs, both were just incredible. Our guide on this tour was Julio and he also was knowledgeable and friendly. Both guides spoke excellant English, thankfully because our Spanish is poor. We had lunch on both tours and the choices were great. I would highly recommend Cuscatlan to anyone traveling to El Salvador. Get out of the resort and see the country. We must not forget our driver Manuel, he didn't speak any English, but his driving was good and he's not bad to look at.

3  Thank Christie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2013

My family travelled to El Salvador in January. Prior to going I had contacted Claudia and she helped us to pre-arrange 3 completely customized tours. She was always so friendly, quick to respond and accomodating! Once we arrived in El Salvador to finalize a few details and Mondau morning at 8 am sharp Julio(Tour Guide) & Guillermo(Driver) were at the gates waiting for us. I can only tell you that the first day was just the begining of what turned out to be 3 of the most amzing days in our lives! Full of adventure, experiences and great food! (Seafood in Acajutla to die for!) Julio is so edjucated on every aspect of his country and it's people, you could ask him about anything and he knew the answer! Guillermo always curteous, and smiling. Julio is completley fluent in English so it makes things so much easier.
Cuscatlan Tours totally customized each and everyone of our tours so that we got to see and experience just the way we wanted, with a few special extras along the way! Julio and Guillermo on there own accord even surprised my wife at lunch on the day of her 40th birthday! How thoughtful is that! We got to swim in a jungle waterfal, bath in natural hot springs, zipline high above a coffee plantation, dune buggie in the mountains and visit a number of amazing small towns and villages!! I can't say enough about how truly great at their jobs each and everyone one of them are. We incountered the large groups from the tours organized at the resort a number of times and I can assure you, they were not having anywhere near the experience or fun we were! (Don't listen to them at the resort telling you it's not safe to go off the resort with anyone else but them. It's complete nonsense, they just want the monopoly, we never felt unsafe ever!!!)
If you are going to El Salvador and are fortunate enough to hear about Cuscatlan Tours, Do yourself and see this amazing country with some of the most incredible people I have ever met!!! Truly you will be so impressed and they will help to make your holiday even more special then it's already going to be! In fact I now consider Julio, Guillermo and Claudia friends, and me and my family cannot wait to see them alll just as soon as we possibly can.!
Graham, Nicole & Ethan Muskoka Ontario

3  Thank Graham T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 2, 2013

If you are going to El Salvador make sure you contact Claudia at Cuscatlan Tours before you go, they will make your trip special.

I had read some reviews on Cuscalan tours before we went to El Salvador and contacted Claudia, I let her know what we wanted to see and do and she created 3 day trips for us. Trip #1 – volcano National Park, Coatepeque Lake and Santa Teresa hot Springs. Trip #2 – Dune Buggie Adventure, Juayua Cascades. Trip #3 – Culture & crafts and shopping mall. She made recommendations on what days to go that would not be busy with the bus tours, and it was greatly appreciated, we had the cascades and dune buggies to ourselves and very few people at the hot springs. We had a driver and guide, so the guide was not distracted with having to drive, we got all his attention. Our driver was Manuel and our guide Julio, they were both great. Julio our guide spoke perfect English as he is an English teacher in El Salvador and teaches grammer. I sure hope he is not analyzing my grammer as he reads this review, lol . There was not one question he could not answer for us. He definatley made our trip to El Salvador a memorable one.

Trip #1 – Los Volcano National Park, Coatepeque Lake and Santa Teresa hot Springs. We first went to the Los Volcanoes National Park, along the way, we stopped so Julio could show us Sugar Cane and we could taste it, we could also take pictures of the Volcanoes from here, nice touch. The National Park was a nice walk through the woods with quite the views of the Izalco and Santa Ana Volcanoes as well as Coatepeque Lake, quite the view, don’t miss it. We left there and drove along a very scenic road along the lake to the Hot Springs. As you drive into the property, we stopped so we could see the earth bubbling as there are hot springs all through the property. Once we got to the hot springs, there was different pools to swim in with different temperatures. The owner has done a nice job at making this property beautiful. We stopped for lunch at Lover’s Steak house, highly recommend it. If you go, and you like shrimp, order the grilled Shrimp, you won’t regret it.

Trip #2 – Dune Buggie Adventure & Juayua Cascades – We took the dune buggies through some villages in Apaneca and along some breath taking scenery, always time to take pictures. We came across some people picking coffee, and Julio took pictures for us and explained what they were doing. Great trip but expect to get dirty, it is very dusty. Juayua Cascades is a beautiful waterfall you can swim in. We had the place to ourselves, it was wonderful.

Trip #3 Culture & Crafts and shopping – We visited 3 different towns, Nahuizalco, Juayua and Ataco and got to walk through the markets and crafts shops. The market was quite interesting as they have fruits and vegetables I never seen before. The craft shops made for great shopping. We visited the churches in the towns, got to see them weave material and had the opportunity to buy some. In the afternoon we went to a small mall shopping, found shoes for a good deal but electronics were more expensive than home.

If you want a more personalize Excursion, book with these guys, you won’t regret it.

If you are staying at the Decameron, you will need to sign out at the front gate and meet them there. No money up front, cash the day of your excursion. I was worried about safety before we went but Julio made us feel safe and comfortable.

Highly recommend Cuscatlan Tours. http://cuscatlantours.wix.com/cuscatlan-tours#!__en-home

7  Thank CatG555
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2013

We did two combo excursions with Cuscatlan Tours and they were Fabulous. Our guide was Julio and was very informative and passionate of his tour. We had the Volcanos Tour along with Coatepeque Lake. We visited the cloud forest on Cerro Verde Volcano. Coatepeque Lake is just beautiful, one of the nicest lakes in the world. We left Coatepeque Lake to have lunch at Steak Lovers Restaurant in Santa Ana. Great Lunch it was, everything we had was awesome. Then we left the restaurant for a visit of Santa Ana's square. We finished our excursion with the thermal baths.
We had another awesome excursion, The Coffee Route. Again with Julio, and started out by having popusa, the Salvadorian traditional dish. We visited three colonial towns and had lunch in Acata at a nice restaurant Piccolo Giardino, that had great cuisine by a Swiss Italian Chef. We went on to Finca El Carmen for our Coffee tour. Wow even participate in turning the coffee grains. Santiago was very explicative and everything was traduced by Julio or guide. We had coffee tasting after. All were very happy with the tour of El Carmen Estate. We finished our visit at a souvenir shop. We were impressed with the tour. Julio will take wonderful pictures if you ask him.
We were impressed with the excursions we did, and would recommend very highly Cuscatlan Tours for your Excursion in El Salvador.

2  Thank RichardQ_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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