Tucked at the bottom of Central America on the way to nowhere, El Salvador often gets overlooked even by overlanding backpackers. Which is a shame – with Mayan ruins, avenues of smoking volcanoes, sleepy Spanish-colonial villages set in flower-filled valleys and long, broad stretches of surf-friendly Pacific coast, it’s as enchanting as its more celebrated neighbors. And at around the same size of New Jersey, you can see the most beautiful spots at your leisure in a few days.
This national park is nature with the volume turned up to 11 – from the highest peak (El Trifino, at 7,933ft/2,418m) to the lowest valleys. It looks like a long-lost world, with dense canopy of oaks and laurel trees soaring up to 100ft (30m) above, and mushrooms, lichens and mosses running rampant across the forest floor. And yet you can visit easily as part of a tour. You might glimpse the rare likes of pumas and anteaters, spider monkeys and and coyotes. Even if you don’t, sightings of squirrels and porcupines, black shrew-mice and white-tailed deer are common. All that and 300 bird species, including quetzals, green toucans and white-faced quails. Keep your eyes peeled.
Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting to this article.