Lying in the danger zone on the Pacific Coast, El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. Add a few active volcanoes to the mix, and you have a country poised for natural disaster.
Mother nature can be unpredictable, but there are some places that have felt her wrath way too frequently to ignore. Lying in the danger zone on the Pacific Coast, El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. Add a few active volcanoes to the mix, and you have a country poised for natural disaster.
A lot of El Salvador's appeal is the picturesque volcanic landscape and impressive beaches. But you need to be careful when you choose to travel there, if you are planning to take advantage of its natural attractions.
The rainy season in El Salvador normally runs from June to November, coinciding with the hurricane season in the Caribbean. During this time when it rains, it pours. Afternoon thunderstorms and massive downpours don't make for pleasant travel weather. Also, mountain areas are vulnerable to landslides in the rainy season.
In November 2009, heavy constant rain over a four-day period led to extreme flooding and landslides in the country. Around 200 people were killed, 76 missing and another 14,000 left homeless.
Then in 2010 Tropical Storm Agatha in May, and Tropical Storm Alex in June caused more extensive damage, which is still having repercussions.
The summer season from around December to April when the weather is dry, hot and hazy is definitely the best option.
There are also a number of active volcanoes in El Salvador. The last eruption was the country's highest volcano, the Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) that erupted on October 2, 2005. Two people were killed and seven injured. It was several months before locals could return to the area.
Check for government alerts to keep up to date with volcanic activity.
Climbing volcanoes is big on the tourist to-do list. Doing this alone isn't recommended. You can hire a guide or find a reputable company that offers group climbs.
For the Izalco volcano, for example, if you meet at the entrance of the park in the morning before 10:30, there will be guides and policemen there to help out tourists.
Having a trustworthy guide is essential not only for physical safety, but tourists are often targeted on volcanoes and in remote areas by thieves. Also try to finish before nightfall. Climbing at night is extremely dangerous.
Surfing in El Salvador has been dubbed by many as the best in the world. But even for the most experienced swimmers and surfers, undertows and currents at the Coastal Pacific beaches, and the country's lakes can be very risky.
Since 2008, seven Americans have drowned swimming in Salvadorian waters. Even if you feel you may be indestructible with Australian beach culture knowledge, be careful.