Where will we be staying?
For most of the trip you will stay in Ciudad Romero, a small rural community founded by former refugees towards the end of the civil war in 1991 and named for Archbishop Oscar Romero. At night you will stay in the community dormitory, which is similar to a youth hostel. There are six rooms with four bunk beds in each room. Depending on the size of your group, you will probably get both the top and bottom bunk to yourself. There is no A/C, but fans and mosquito nets are provided.
The dormitory is in a community center which also houses the Xinachtli Nursery and Seed Bank, and is short walk from the community church, which contains a moving mural depicting Archbishop Romero and the history of the community. There is a security guard at the dormitory 24 hours a day, and a vehicle is always available for emergencies.
If your group is going to San Salvador or the beach, you will stay in a comfortable, locally-owned hotel or guesthouse. Accommodations are shared. If you require a room to yourself, it is sometimes possible to request this in advance.
What will we eat?
While in Ciudad Romero, you will have breakfast and lunch each day with a local family who will cook you hearty, traditional Salvadoran food (vegetarians and vegans will be happily accommodated!). Dinners will be at the community dining hall, which contains another beautiful mural depicting the journey of local residents who lived for 10 years in exile in the jungles of Panama.
Will we do a community service or volunteer project while we are in El Salvador?
Volunteer projects are no longer a standard component of the tours program, though we can often build one into the itinerary upon request. While it can make the visitors feel good to break a sweat and contribute something physical to the local community, it is important for visitors to understand that this is mostly a symbolic contribution. In the amount of time and energy it takes for local community members to organize and supervise a short term project for our visitors (such as painting a school or building a latrine), the community members can usually complete that project and start a few others.
We invite you instead to plan to do your service work when you return home, by joining our Manos Campaign and lending a hand to the communities you visited. You can help out by engage your friends, family and community in supporting the inspiring projects you saw while in El Salvador.
Do I need to speak Spanish?
You will be quite comfortable even if you do not speak Spanish. Interpreters are available during all of the group activities. The families you will eat your meals with all have experience communicating with non-Spanish speakers and preparing meals according to North American health standards.
Does my tour fee include a donation for local projects?
The fee does not include additional support for community projects beyond the EcoTourism program itself. Our tours costs up to 70% less than many other similar experiences offered by other organizations. We keep our prices low in order to offer this experience to students and community members who might not otherwise afford this experience. If you can, we encourage you to give an additional donation to support the other aspects of our work.
I have extra luggage space. Is there anything needed I can bring?
We currently are not accepting any material donations for local communities. For years, many of our participants brought down school supplies or medicine, but our local partners often found it difficult to distribute these donations in an equitable way. If there is a specific need to bring something at the time of your trip, we will let you know.
Will the tour be strenuous?
You will not be expected to go for long hikes or engage in physical labor. However, it is hot and humid in the Lower Lempa. You should be in moderately good physical condition to come on this trip, and be able to withstand tropical weather.
Can I bring my children?
We welcome children aged 10 and older to come with us to El Salvador. If you would like to bring your child or a group of children, please contact us to inquire about family and youth tours. This is a wonderful way to broaden a child’s horizons. We have had many children join us over the years, and some of them are now organizing groups at their colleges to return! We will try to match you with other families that are interested in coming, and organize a tour oriented towards the interests of children.
On what days should I arrive and depart?
Consult the itinerary. If the tour is scheduled, for example, July 24th to 31st, then we expect your flight to arrive on July 24th and to depart on July 31st. If you’d like to arrive or depart on different days we may be able accommodate you, but please contact us before purchasing your ticket so we can work out the logistical details in advance.
What are the best flight times for arrival and departure?
For many tours we will try to coordinate it for the group to arrive on the same flight. If you are making an independent reservation, the best time to arrive and depart El Salvador is in the middle of the day. We discourage arrivals after 5pm: although we will certainly pick you up, the roads are less safe after sundown. For your departure time, keep in mind that you should get to the San Salvador airport at least 2 hours before departure, and that you will likely be waking up somewhere an hour away from the airport. So, a 6 or 7am departure time will require you to wake up in the middle of the night to get ready. We will certainly take you to the airport to meet your early morning flight, but for your own comfort we encourage a departure time that will ensure a good night’s sleep.
Any more questions? Contact us!