Ruta de las Flores
The Ruta de Las Flores, a quiet, paved road dotted with wildflowers (Nov-Feb) that passes by the quaint towns of Juayua, Apeneca, Ataco, and Ahuachapan, offers many opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, swimming and camping. For those looking for a little more adrenaline, there are quad-bike tours, ziplines and cycling. It’s the scenic waterfalls, volcanic lakes and several weekend food festivals (notably in Ataco and Juayua) that attract tourists from around El Salvador and beyond to this beautiful mountain road.
Juayua- Probably the best-known town on the Ruta de Las Flores, Juayua has an attractive central square in front of a whitewashed church, which, every weekend, is crowded with tourists for the Feria Gastronomica (Food Festival). Tourists from home and abroad swarm the plaza to sample regional dishes, listen to live music and buy handicrafts and art. Located a short walk from the town is “Los Chorros,” a large natural waterfall that spills into a man-made pool perfect for swimming. Juayua is also the starting point of the “7 Waterfalls” tour, a hike leading through a series of breathtaking waterfalls.
Apaneca-This sleepy little town is the jumping-off point for a variety of outdoor activities. You can visit the two scenic volcanic lakes, Laguna Verde and Laguna de las Ninfas, which make for great hikes or walk the cobble-stoned streets pass sidewalk cafes and a beautiful church which can make for a perfect lazy afternoon.
Ataco- Ataco is rapidly following in Juayua’s footsteps and hosts its own food festival every weekend. A mellower, more intimate version of Juayua’s festival, Ataco offers a variety of authentic arts and crafts from the surrounding areas, local and foreign food, and much less noise and chaos. A defining feature of the town is the brightly painted murals on many of the houses, restaurants and shops lining the cobblestone streets. A short walk takes you to the viewpoint from the cross on the hill that overlooks the town and the coffee fincas (plantations) that cover the surrounding mountains. Ataco is also home to some recently discovered ruins, yet to be excavated, but which make for an interesting day of exploring!
Ahuachapan- The main plaza in the busier market town of Ahauchapan is filled with palm trees and flowers and is a great place to sit with a book and watch people go by. The main square also has a beautiful church and some nearby buildings capture the eye with brightly colored murals. Just outside of Ahuachapan, you’ll find the “Ausoles” (steam vents) that cover an area of almost 20 km2. They are considered the largest geothermal source in Central America and El Salvador is actively using this geothermal energy to generate power.
Tacuba – Tacuba is one of two entrance points to Parque Nacional El Impossible (El Impossible National Park). If you have gone as far as Ahuachapan, then heading out to El Impossible is a must. Parque Nacional El Imposible is home to many endangered species of plants and animals and is an excellent location for bird watching. There are endless trails through cloud forests, gorges, coffee farms, and waterfalls to keep you entertained for days!