Mother nature can be unpredictable, but there are some places that have felt her wrath far too frequently to ignore. Lying in the danger zone on the Pacific Coast, El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. Pop a few active volcanoes into the mix, and you have a country primed for natural disaster.
A lot of El Salvador's appeal is the picturesque volcanic landscape and impressive beaches But, if you're planning to take advantage of its natural attractions, you've got to be careful.
The rainy season in El Salvador normally runs from June–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, and mountainous areas are vulnerable to landslides in the rainy season – so it's best to choose another time of year to travel.
Back in November 2009, constant, heavy rain over a four-day period led to extreme flooding and landslides. Around 200 people were killed, 76 went missing, and another 14,000 left homeless.
Instead, travel during the summer season, from December–April, when the weather is dry, hot, and hazy.
There are a number of active volcanoes in El Salvador. The last eruption was the country's highest volcano, the Santa Ana (Ilamatepec), which 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 travelers.
Having a trustworthy guide is essential – not only for physical safety – but tourists are often targeted on volcanoes and in remote areas by thieves. Always try to finish hiking 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.
A number of tourists have drowned at El Salvador's beaches. Even if you feel you may be indestructible with home-town beach culture knowledge, be careful.
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