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  • Writer's pictureKristin

3 Days in Rutas de Las Flores, El Salvador

‘The route of the flowers’ is a beautiful 22-mile stretch in northeastern El Salvador that is home to lush greenery, roads lined with flowers between November-February and some of El Salvador’s best coffee. If you prefer to stay right in the action, then making Juayua your base is a good location. However, we had a hard time finding something in our budget for the region (we were also booking last minute & for about $60 USD or less/night), so we stayed in Santa Ana and just drove out the days we explored the area. We easily spent 3 full days in the area, but if you are staying in the region you might be able to pack more into your day. These are some of the highlights of our 3 days in Rutas de Las Flores in El Salvador.


Juayua

This town means “River of Purple Orchids” and we even saw some orchid farms just outside of the town. If you are in the area on a Sunday, we highly recommend checking out Juayua. This is because each Sunday they have a food festival in the town center. The streets are shut down to vehicle traffic and food vendors fill the streets where you can get a really nice meal for $5-7 USD per plate. We got a shrimp & steak for $6 USD per plate. However, our favorite part was just the atmosphere, as everyone comes to hang out on Sundays.

Colonial church with the Juayua city park in front.
Center Square in Juayua on a Sunday afternoon for the Sunday Food Festival.

They also had a little train that takes people around the town. The highlight for the kids was the park in the center of full of people & ice cream vendors for only $.25 per cone, and there are even entertainment for kids with trampolines, ride-on toys & more! The kids had a blast playing while we just enjoyed and people watched. Right across from the park is the beautiful colonial church, which was lively on a Sunday.


Los Churros de La Calera

Located on the outskirts of Juayua is Los Churros de La Calera. The waterfall has become privatized so you have to pay an entrance fee and a guide is required to go with you. This is mainly due to the fact that access to the waterfall is locked, so they have to unlock it for you. They told us it would cost $5 USD per person, but we were able to negotiate $15 USD by saying we had 2 small children. We parked in the lot at the outskirts & then started to walk down to the waterfall with the guide, which probably took approximately 25-30 minutes.

The flow from the waterfall runs to a hydro plant, but there were two different places where we could swim. The first one was pretty deep, so we went to the second so the kids could swim. After the kids were finished swimming – they got a little chilly – Alex went back to the first one to check it out. We were there on a Sunday around 2 p.m. and had the place completely to ourselves! But as we were getting ready to walk back a big group showed up, so we were super lucky with our timing.


Also accessible from Juayua is Seven Waterfalls – for this hike you have to hire a guide, but it supposedly takes about 5-6 hours to hike, plus you repel down some waterfalls with no harness. We weren't sure this would work with the kids, plus we did a long hike at Santa Ana Volcano so didn't want to push our limits too much.


Salcoatitan

This town also has a Sunday Festival and felt lively with the locals gathering in the town center. In addition to its colonial church and being known for its coffee production, they have a craft market located above the food vendors in the center of the town. We had some delicious coffee here & the kids enjoyed some potato snacks!

Beautiful flowers hanging off the homes in Rutas de Las Flores, El Salvador.
The beautiful flowers on the homes in Salcoatitan on Rutas de Las Flores.

Between here and Nahuizalco is a beautiful viewpoint (mirador) of the 7 Volcanoes.

7 Volcano Viewpoint in Rutas de Las Flores.
Mirador (viewpoint) of 7 Volcanoes in Rutas de Las Flores, El Salvador.

Apaneca

This town offers some of the highest quality coffee in the region. We were pretty high up, so it wasn’t too surprising that it would have good quality coffee. It is also known for its beauty & crafts. They had several murals painted on the walls and there were several artisan shops. They also have a canopy zipline on the edge of town; however, the price we found online was about $35 per person, which was a bit more than we wanted to spend.


Don Juan Waterfall

On the road just south between Apaneca & Concepcion de Ataco is Don Juan Waterfall. We had to park near the restaurant & pay $3 USD per person to access the falls, but we had the falls completely to ourselves! In fact, there was no one around at all, so we let the kids skinny dip, which they thought was funny! The man at the parking area asked if we wanted a guide, but we said we would just go by ourselves. The waterfall is literally only a 8-10 minute walk away from the parking lot.

Man sitting at the base of Don Juan Waterfall in Rutas de Las Flores, El Salvador.
Don Juan Waterfall between Apaneca & Concepcion de Ataco.

Concepcion de Ataco

After checking out Don Juan Waterfall, we headed to Concepcion de Ataco. Like many of the other towns in the region, there is also a colonial church in the center of the town next to a central park. However, Concepcion de Ataco is most well known for its beautiful murals painted on the buildings around the town. They were bright and vibrant and we really enjoyed just taking in this town with an afternoon coffee.


Ahuachapan

This is also a coffee producing town & is known for its handloom textiles.


Santa Teresa Hot Springs

Just outside of the town if Santa Teresa Hot Springs where we spent the afternoon relaxing in their various pools. We paid $10 USD per adult and $5 for children over 5 years old. They advertise having about 40 pools, but I don’t think we saw that many! However, they have various pools with different temperatures of thermal waters – some really hot and others cool. As we came in we saw some people doing a mud bath, which really interested Clara. However, when we went to investigate it was $10 for adults & $5 for children, so we opted not to do it and headed back to the pools.

Family sitting in the pools of Santa Teresa Hot Springs in El Salvador.
Santa Teresa Hot Springs in Rutas de Las Flores Region of El Salvador.

Salto de Malacatiupan - Natural Hot Springs

Salto de Malacatiupan is a natural hot springs also outside of Ahuachapan, in the opposite direction as Santa Teresa Hot Springs. It is $1 USD per person for entry and $2 for vehicle parking. This is a beautiful spot with waterfalls that flow through a canyon and have hot spring pools on the side of the falls that you can slip in and enjoy the warm pools of water. This was one of our favorite natural hot spring spots.

Little girl sitting at the edge of the natural hot springs of Salto de Malacatiupan on Rutas de Las Flores.
Salto de Malacatiupan Natural Hot Springs just outside of Ahuachapan.

Nahuizalco

Driving here from Juayua was the area we saw with the most flowers, as were at the tail end of the season (beginning of March). This town is also on the opposite side of Santa Ana Volcano from where we accessed it for the hike. Here they are known for their craftsmanship and market. We checked it out during the day time, but at night the vendors light it with candles, which would have been amazing to check out, but difficult with the kids & the drive back to the city.


The Rutas de Las Flores was a beautiful part of El Salvador and we really enjoyed our time in the area. It just seemed so laid back and you got a good sense for everyday life. There are so many areas to explore within this region, that it would be hard to run out of things to do. If you do come to Rutas de Las Flores, don’t forget to check out Santa Ana and Santa Ana Volcano – for more details about these, check out our upcoming blog entry on them.

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