Suchitoto – a day in the 15th Century colonial town

Suchitoto is a fun day trip in El Salvador

Suchitoto, one of El Salvador’s best preserved colonial cities. Not only that, but it also has the lowest homicide right. With stats like that, we couldn’t afford not to visit!

Strangely, Suchitoto is the only town in El Salvador some travel companies visit. At one and a half hours from our base of San Salvador, it seemed like a good idea for a day trip.

Getting to Suchitoto was complete drama. The number 52 bus route terminates at Oriente Terminal. Where the 52 bus stopped was not Oriente Terminal. Cue much walking around. Being given directions to “over there” and walking around aimlessly.

Eventually the number 52 bus driver spotted us on his return journey and gave us a free lift 50 yards. This still didn’t look like a bus terminal. By this time however, we’d established that it was the route 140 bus which would take us to Suchitoto.

There are many 140 buses though. 140-4, 140-XO, 140-2 and on it went. The Salvadorians are super friendly, so an old lady helped us get the correct 140-3 bus.

San Salvador Oriente Bus Terminal
San Salvador Oriente Bus Terminal can be identified by this monument

The instructions at our hostel said the journey is an hour. Their information again proving useless, it took closer to two hours. We made it in the end though.

Dropped off in the centre, the first sight was the Iglesia (church). Although it closed for entry, it was a nice place to chill out and watch the world go by.

Suchitoto Church
Iglesia Santa Lucía in the centre of Suchitoto

We decided to take a walk to Rio Lempa and the San Juan docks. Heading left as you look at the church, we walked all the way down. It’s a bendy road of around 1km, with a steady descent. The houses are pretty and it’s a comfortable walk. A bit of litter covers the path, but some of the views are good.

At the bottom of the hill, we first turned left as Google Maps looked like we could visit a small island. It was interesting. A small settlement of houses and a couple of Commedores (small, cheap restaurants). Then a field full of cows and litter!

Island on Rio Lempa
The small Island on Rio Lempa

It was a bit surreal. We could hundreds of birds on the opposite shore and then what seemed like a pretty wasteland. Back we went, this time turning right at the fork and down to San Juan docks. It’s $1 to enter, but there wasn’t really a need. Back we went, walking part way up the hill and sweating profusely in the heat. Buses pass every so often, so we ended up catching a $0.30 rise back to the centre.

From here we explored the town. There aren’t many ‘sites’, so we just strolled. A sign outside one Commedore said they did chocolate purpusas. “Take my money” I thought. The Commedore duly did. Their freshly made chocolate purpusa tasted divine. Hand made, beautiful chocolate, the perfect consistency between lunch and dessert. I was a happy man.

Comedore Los Angeles Chocolate Purpusa
Get your chocolate purpusas here at Comedore Los Angeles

Check them out when you’re in town. They also do ‘make your own purpusas and only pay for what you eat’ classes. Sounds like fun.

Approaching 2:00pm, we decided to head to Cascada Los Tericos. The 10 metre high waterfalls with a crazy rock formation. We didn’t fancy the 2km uphill walk, so jumped in a tuk tuk for $2.

The ‘entrance’ to Cascada Los Tericos is unassuming. Our driver waved us on and off we set. Please remember, El Salvador is not set up for tourists. Thus there’s no signs.

This meant we went to the beautiful viewpoint and then turned left down a hill. This was incorrect. A little further down the hill, we then turned right at a fork. Wrong again. Some litter and the lamest waterfall I’d ever seen, we trekked back up hill in the blazing heat.

Small waterfall
The world’s worst waterfall!

Not to be fooled a second time, turned left at the fork. Wrong again. Not even a lame waterfall to be seen.

Heat stroke felt like it was kicking in and we retired to the viewpoint. Rose now wondering if she might pass out. Did I say how how it was?

Returning near to the road we saw a family loitering and looking down quizzically. I asked if “Cascada abajo” and got a “Si”. Off down I went (Rose now too hot and bothered to even venture on).

It’s steep and the rocks are at crazy angles, so unless you’re in hiking boots, it will be hard. I do enjoy a good clamber over rocks and was wearing hiking boots, so off I went.

Cascada Los Tercios
Cascada Los Tercios Suchitoto

Cascada Los Tricos did look pretty damn cool. There’s no water as we visited in dry season (February). It’s certainly worth your time if you come to Suchitoto.

Now to find a way back. So many cars and trucks passed us on the way there. Not so on the way back.

We started walking. Rose, having sweated out half her body weight even tried to flag down a pick up trucks of eight men. (Is that wise in El Salvador?). The didn’t stop. Nor did the pick up with three men, one lady and two cows.

We were now getting desperate. In this heat, the 2km walk back to town felt like a lifetime of torment.

Third time lucky we tried to flag down a citrus energy health drink van. No joy!

But wait. What’s this…we turned a corner and they started reversing. We were saved! They opened the back, moved their display stand, opened a cardboard box to sit on and made a seat for us on the floor. We did say the Salvadorians are obscenely friendly and helpful!

Saved from vultures picking our remains by the side of the road, we had a lift back to Suchitoto.

Suchitoto street view
The colonial streets of Suchitoto

We hadn’t got stranded in the Australian outback. Nor was this the Kokoda Trek in Papa New Guinea. But you get the idea. It was so freaking hot!

Emerging out a dark van cabin into the bright sun of Suchitoto, we jumped in a garage to replenish our long since consumed water. (I also bought an extra large Pilsner for good measure).

A bus suddenly came near (route 129 this time) and we jumped on for a $1 ride back to San Salvador.

So, would we recommend Suchitoto. Yes. It’s quaint, peaceful and a very different El Salvador to that of the nation’s capital and party beaches like El Tunco.

If you’re travelling a lot in Central America, it may not offer enough diversification for the seasoned traveller, but we had a blast and are happy we went.


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