El Salvador or Colombia?
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jan 23, 2013 12:56 PM Last Post By: lencho4846
Oct 2, 2012 7:04 PM
The last country we visited together was Ethiopia which we loved. That is just to say that we are not shy regarding unusual travel destinations. We have both traveled extensively in Asia but Central and South America have really escaped us. I have been to Mexico several times and Ecuador once and found both delightful.
So, which, of the two, is your favourite country? We are looking for exciting cities in a cultural and architectual sense (more than regarding nightlife), beautiful landscapes, great music, some horse-back riding, and perhaps a beautiful beach or two (neither of us surf). I am a little worried about safety in both countries but it seems one just doesn't venture out after dark or hike up a mountain unescorted and that deals with some of the dangers. (Also, what is the deal with malaria: do we need to take drugs or not? I find the info confusing on this matter.)
... Or are we looking at the wrong countries? Initially, we had wanted to visit Burma, but with the traveling involved (coming from the West Coast of Canada and the East Coast of the US, it just takes too long), so we looked south.
Oct 3, 2012 5:57 AM
1It is always difficult to draw comparisons with countries. Your criteria would certainly be well met by either country and your concerns probably are about equal also and both El Salvador and Colombia have any number of attractive reasons to visit. The glaringly obvious difference is the size of the countries. You could spend your time in Colombia just in the North. Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, PN Tayrona and it would probably fulfill everything on your wishlist and it would be an area larger than compact little El Salvador. To properly explore a country the size of Colombia would involve months. You do offer a rather limited timeline so your time might be better spent in El Salvador and it is a fascinating place or pick one specific area of Colombia. Another area that would fill the bill is the Zona Cafetera and Medellin and for a beach go to the Pacific Choco. Maybe Bahia Solano or Nuqui.
I don't find either country particularly a security concern and malaria is only a concern if you are going to Amazonia.
There was an excellent trip report here recently about El Salvador that might fuel your interest.
Oct 3, 2012 6:10 AM
2Colombia hands down. Better architecture. Better beaches. More options. While i wouldn't use the word "safe" for either, Colombia might have a slight advantage it tat category too.
Oct 3, 2012 8:31 AM
3Thanks for the input. I think you have convinced me to go to Colombia. I was more attracted to Colombia from the beginning but started looking for something less traveled as we are going just after Christmas and over New Years and I thought perhaps El Salvador wouldn't be as busy. But, reading about the two countries, Colombia does sound more interesting so I guess we will just have to live with the crowds. Now to figure out where we are going in Colombia.
Oct 3, 2012 9:34 AM
4I did 7 nights in Colombia this past February, amazing trip, planning my first trip to El Salvador for this Jan. For Colombia, I did 3 nights in Cartagena, highly recommend this hotel http://www.hotel3banderas.com/. Two nights in Tayrona National Park, highly recommend the Eco Habs http://www.ecohabsantamarta.com/ecohabs-tayrona. Two nights in Bogota, Bogata Bike Tours is a blast and I highly recommend this hotel http://www.abadiacolonial.com/. Everything in Colombia was amazing, any questions, let me know...
Oct 4, 2012 7:27 AM
6My last 2 trips were to the 2 countries you mentioned, El Salvador (last fall), and Colombia for my 2nd time this Sept.
Here are the advantages of El Salvador; it's basically untraveled - my trip was 2 weeks of going to the 'highlights' and I only met 2 backpackers during that time, both in Suchitoto. The country is very compact, even more so than Ecuador, so you won't even lose travel days to the bus, as you can easily advance a few hours to the next spot - this is nice when you're working with less time.
However I love Colombia. It's just cooler. I'd easily go back for a 3rd trip, whereas I won't likely ever return to El Salvador. Lots more backpackers there for sure, and the bus distances are crazy - this is my least favourite part, basically any time you move locations you usually end up wiping out the whole day (8-10 hours on the bus to jump cities or towns). So if you want more time on the ground, it's better to do less locations, and spend more time in each one.
As mentioned I'd suggest against trying to do the whole country with your time frame. You'll likely need to pick an area, the coast, or the coffee region (Medellin, Manizales, Salento). Southern Colombia is also very cool and often skipped over; San Agustin, Tierradentro, Popayan area and you could loop back to Bogota with a stop in Salento.
My 1st Colombia trip was 3 months and I got to do tons with no schedule concerns. My recent trip was only 2 weeks and it was a bit frustrating figuring out a route that doesn't lose too many bus days or involve backtracking. So that'll be your challenge with Colombia.
Jan 23, 2013 11:59 AM
7I am in el salvador right now. There are lots of tourist as it is high season at this time of year. Find the people to be very friendly and it is small so it's easy to get around.
Also quite a few people here speak a bit of english so if you speak no spanish that will be a help. Most salvadorians I have met are very happy that you are here to visit there county.
On the other hand I love colombia and have gone for a couple months each the last three years and already have my ticket booked for april. It's one of my favorite places to visit. To me the people and the country have a great pull. I just love it, but be prepared to struggle a little bit if you know zero spanish
cheers and have fun
Jan 23, 2013 12:56 PM
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