The town of Chalchuapa will linger long in my mind. I hadn’t heard of it the day before my visit and I won’t forget it after my day out there. It was a truly magical little town well off the tourist trail and I was completely inspired. El Salvador gave me more stories than I felt were ever possible – Bolas de Fuego, Surfing in the Pacific, El Sopon Tipico, Santa Ana, Mangrove Forest and many more.
I’ve already written a few posts on things I did in Chalchuapa, so I thought I’d combine them all into one easy post. Put simply – if you are ever backpacking in Chalchuapa, these are the six things I recommend checking out. There are more of course, but these are the six main sights I did.
1. Ruinas de Tazumal
These Mayan ruins at Tazumal are completely worth a trip. The site at Tazumal is not frequently visited by foreigners but the locals love it. It’s a set of Mayan ruins including a massive pyramid and is one of the top sights in the whole country. There’s also a museum as you may have read on that link. The entry cost is $3 US.
2. Casa Blanca
Casa Blanca is a much less visited Mayan site and these ruins contains ash from the volcanic eruption so they are completely worth the visit. The cost to get in is $3 US as well but as you’ll discover, this includes a full demonstration in the Indigo Workshop!
3. Indigo Workshop
Quite simply – this was a really cool thing to do. The ruins at Casa Blanca contain an Indigo Worshop within them, one that I wrote about here – indigo workshop demonstration in Chalchuapa.
4. Laguna Chalchuapa
A huge surprise is that in the town of Chalchuapa there is a massive lake/lagoon. This is where local fishermen go by day to fish. Locals are also obsessed by a myth that claims there is a beautiful fictional “lady” hiding in the waters of the lake. The creature known as the Siguanaba, pretends to be a very attractive lady to help lure local males in. This is El Salvador’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster or Finn McCool. It’s a murky lake and I didn’t see said lady, just popped by the lake and got on my merry way.
5. Local Restaurant for Horchata, Chilate and Camote
Yes! The local food here astounds. Tasty unique, local, well prepared and unusual. I tried the drink Horchata which tasted like a mix of cinnamon and peanut butter mixed with milk. Chilate is a corn soup which has a load of other things in it and was eaten out of a coconut shell. Camote was sweet potato in an even sweeter sauce. I devoured the lot and the total cost was just $2 USD. Buy it on the street near the entrance to Tazumal in a restaurant called Tipicos del Pueblo. Well worth it.
6. Miraflores Gifts
You can get some cool gifts here in the shop called Miraflores Gifts. I met the owner and bought my usual postcards, fridge magnets etc. in here. El Salvador is still not very touristic so genuinely cool gifts are hard to source (especially in Sonsonate, San Salvador and Barra de Santiago).
Once you have seen those six, there are still a few other cool things to check out – a nice church, wall murals, arty hedging and even a waterfall nearby proving that Chalchuapa is a neglected town off the tourist trail which you need to check out if you are ever backpacking in El Salvador! It’s a very easy day trip from Santa Ana by the way, and if you check my previous posts on Tazumal and Casa Blanca (which I’ve linked to), I explain the easy way to get there on local chicken buses.
Here are a few of my videos from Chalchuapa: