Where will we be staying?
For most of your trip you will be visiting small rural communities. You will stay in basic but comfortable, locally-owned hotels or guesthouses that have been vetted in advance by EcoViva staff and our in-country partners. Accommodations are shared and based on double occupancy. If you require a room to yourself, it is sometimes possible to request this in advance for an additional cost.
In Ciudad Romero, El Salvador, a village founded by former refugees towards the end of the civil war in 1991 and named for Archbishop Oscar Romero, you will stay in the community dormitory. There are six rooms with four bunk beds in each room. There is no A/C, but fans and mosquito nets are provided. There is a security guard at the dormitory 24 hours a day, and a vehicle is always available for emergencies.
What will we eat?
On your EcoViva Tour you will enjoy traditional meals either in local hotels or small restaurants (vegetarians and vegans will be happily accommodated!). When you are in Ciudad Romero, El Salvador, you will have breakfast and lunch each day with a local family who will cook you hearty, traditional Salvadoran food. Dinners will be at the cooperative cafeteria run by women from the community. The community members who cook for our trips have all undergone extensive training on health and sanitation best practices and we go to restaurants we know use safe food preparation techniques.
Will we do a community service or volunteer project during our trip?
Volunteer projects are not a standard component of the tours program, though we can often build one into a group itinerary upon request. While it can make you 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 fundraising for sustainable programs that support the communities you visited. You can help out by engaging your friends, family and community in supporting the inspiring projects you saw while on your trip!
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.
Does my tour fee include a donation for local projects?
Yes, your fee does include additional support for the community projects you visit and will depend on your specific itinerary. One of the goals of our tour program is to encourage ecotourism as part of local sustainable livelihoods. For example, if you are on a tour that includes a visit to a local sea turtle hatchery, we will donate a specific amount per person to participate in a hatchling release to support this community conservation initiative. If you can, we encourage you to give additional donations to support projects you encounter on the trip that you find particularly meaningful.
I have extra luggage space. Is there anything needed I can bring?
We generally do not accept 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 most of the places you visit. 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. 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?
The best time to arrive and depart El Salvador is in the middle of the day. We discourage arrivals after 5 pm: 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 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 7 am 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!