Chasing Waterfalls in El Salvador
My absolute favorite travel activities often involve waterfalls. I love hiking to hidden waterfalls, repelling or jumping from them and even just looking at them. In El Salvador that hunger was more than satisfied and I made it my mission to fly my drone over as many as possible. I hiked deep into the jungle of the National Park El Impossible and I fell in love with the little town of Juayua for their countless waterfalls.
If there is one thing that will motivate me to take on a long difficult hike, it’s the promise of seeing beautiful waterfalls. I’ve literally been obsessed with seeing waterfalls, swimming in them, jumping from them, and most of all flying my drone over them.
For the most adrenaline seeking, there are actually two different hikes called the “Seven waterfalls hike” in El Salvador. One of them is located in Juayua and the other one is in the National Park El Impossible.
If you’re traveling to El Tunco or even to the capital, you have to make the day-trip to the Tamanique waterfalls. Tamanique is a mountainous city in the department of La Libertad, but it’s also the name of the waterfalls. After a 30 minute hike from the town, you will reach an amazing canyon with waterfalls that you can swim in. Even if it was a short hike, the heat was intense enough for me to enjoy the cold water of the canyon.
Some tours may take you all the way down the big waterfall, but since it had rained and it was muddy when I did the hike, we did not make it all the way down. I flew my drone down from the top of the waterfall and tried to get as low as possible.
Juayua is home to one of the two amazing “Seven Waterfalls hike” of El Salvador. This tour takes you in the jungle hiking and repelling down waterfalls. I do have to say though that I would use the term “repelling” very loosely because it was more like “we’ll tie a rope to a tree so you have something to hold while going down”… If it wasn’t raining, I probably would have been able to go down without a rope.
Still, I thought that the experience was amazing! Compared to many other tours, this tour does not have a well-maintained path. I loved that sometimes our only way forward was to cut through the jungle with a machete.
Without a guide, this hike is not possible and the waterfalls are absolutely worth the 20$.
The tour ends in Chorros de la Calera, which is the last waterfall. This waterfall is accessible from town and is filled with people on weekends. When you get here, make sure to ask your guide to take you through the tunnels that connect the waterfalls.
The small town of Juayua is located in the Ruta de las Flores and is very easy to access. Aside from having some of El Salvador’s best waterfalls and being a charming town, Juayua also has a delicious food festival every weekend. Every week on Saturday and Sunday, the main square is packed with different food stands. Here you’ll find the best food of El Salvador combined with an amazing feeling of festivities all around town.
If don’t want to hike but you love waterfalls, travel to Juayua on a weekend, eat tasty food and then head on to Chorros de la Calera on a 2$ tuk-tuk ride. It is the perfect place to go relax and swim after eating too much food. You can also get to the waterfall by walking 30 min from the town square.
Cascada de Don Juan
Located in Jujutla, very close to Ataco, this beautiful waterfall is a nice stop for an afternoon swim.
It is located in a park that has beautiful vegetation and flowers.
In fact, this is the only place where I’ve really seen flowers along the Flower Route.
In the little town of Atiquizaya, between Ahuachapan and Chalchuapa you will find these amazing thermal waterfalls. The Salto de Malacatiupan is located about a 15 minute car ride from the town square.
The morning is one of the best times to visit this waterfall because we get to see all the thermal vapor coming from the ground. The water is apparently burning, so there was no swimming there. Unless you have a car, it may not be worth it to visit this one as it won’t be easy to access.
Getting ready for a morning flight!
National Park El Impossible
From Ahuachapan, you can take a one hour bus to Tacuba in order to visit the Northern side of the National Park El Impossible. From there, I took a day tour inside the park called the “Seven Waterfalls hike”. There are two hikes called Seven waterfalls hike in El Salvador; one in Juayua and one in the National Park El Impossible.
This one is much harder and offers more adrenaline. As you hike deep into the jungle, almost every time you get to a waterfall, there is only one way forward. You need to jump. This was my best day in El Salvador! I was hiking through amazing vegetation and getting my adrenaline pumping as I was jumping from these waterfalls. Beware that the last one is a 12 meters jump and is not for the faint of heart.
During this hike I had two guides with me, one who was jumping and swimming with me and another one who was hiking and repelling around the waterfalls in order to carry my drone. So if you get scared you should be able to repel down most of them, but I think that it must be easier physically to just jump.
The day started with a long car ride to the beginning of the hike. After a bumpy ride in the mountains, our driver entered a path so narrow that we had tree branches hitting the car on both sides. A little further he stopped the car and said “here we are”. The car was literally in the jungle. The hiking path was very poorly defined, but my guides lead the way.
This activity is similar to canyoning in the sense that we swam through a canyon and jumped from many different waterfalls, but it also involves a lot of hiking. You have to keep your hiking boots all the time, even while swimming. All I could carry was my GoPro and one guide had to find a way hiking around. Some places require some very limited climbing.
Let’s just say that you have to be sufficiently fit for this hike, because after all the fun and excitement, hiking back up is quite strenuous.
The Seven waterfalls are absolutely beautiful because they are so deep into the jungle.
I got to fly my drone in two different locations along the hike and I was so proud to be the first person in the world to fly a drone there.
Cascada Los Tercios
This beautiful waterfall is located in the town of Suchitoto, North of the capital. From the center of town it is less than 2 km distance to get there.
Once you make it, you can hike to the bottom. There is not enough water to swim, but you can stay and hang out for a while sitting on the rocks. There are also tours that allow you to repel down the waterfall which are easy to book in San Salvador.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the country, but I’ve unfortunately visited only the Orient part of the country. If you’re venturing into the Occident and visiting El Cuco which is very renowned for its beaches and animal sanctuaries, then you should head on to Perkins, which is also one of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls.
El Salvador is a lot safer for tourists than most people think. Don’t let anyone scaring you out of discovering all the natural beauty that this country has to offer. But beware that El Salvador may make you develop a waterfall obsession.
During my trip in El Salvador I was lucky enough to discover absolutely stunning nature, rain forests and a ton of waterfalls. I took of the challenge to visit as many as possible and tried to fly my drone over most of them. After three months in the country, I saw about 20 waterfalls and decided to put them all together in a video called Chasing Waterfalls.