El Imposible National Park in Ahuachapán, Montecristo National Park in Santa Ana, and Jaltepeque’s Estuary in La Paz.
We’ll pick you up at your hotel in San Salvador and head to our first destination: El Imposible National Park, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world; the tropical mountain forest of the Mesoamerican Pacific slope. This area is the last refuge for many endangered animal and plant species in El Salvador. Established in March 1989, the 3,800 hectares park is known as a gem of biodiversity and culture. Our accommodations are just a short kilometer to the park entrance. This is a true "eco-lodge", electricity is all solar powered, waste water treatment is done with a variety of plant materials and used again on site as fertilizer. After unloading our gear, we will have lunch on the hostel’s restaurant, take a short break and then head to the park to hopefully start enjoying some wildlife.
Day 1 (afternoon)
This afternoon we’ll take a short hike from Mixtepe Visitor’s Center to El Mulo overlook, where we’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the forest beneath. More than 282 bird species have been documented at El Imposible National Park (including 23 species which are not found - or are extremely rare - outside the park. Some of the main attractions include: The Great Curassow (Crax rubra), the Black Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus tirannus), the White Hawk (Leucopternis albicolis), the King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), and the Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis). The forest will most likely start revealing its inhabitants if we are patient and move quietly through the jungle.
We will then descend towards another overlook, “The Madre Cacao”, were we will be able to appreciate a great view of the southeastern corner of the park. King Vultures can occasionally be seen soaring here, or if we are lucky, we might even see one perched on a nearby tree. We’ll start heading back to camp before it gets too dark, taking a different trail. Great Curassows can sometimes be spotted here, so don’t be surprised if you run into one of these elusive, but beautiful creatures. Their presence is a good indication of the healthy environment. In the evening we will enjoy dinner at the hostel’s restaurant.
After breakfast we’ll head back to the park in order to start our second adventure. This day we will go from Mixtepe Visitor’s Center to the Rio Ixcanal and Cerro León (8 km circuit). This should take us at least a morning or a whole afternoon to complete if we are bird watching, like to stop frequently, or just want to take it easy. This is considered the best route for birding in the park, as all of the park’s main species can be seen here. The trail descends steeply to the Rio Ixcanal, and then climbs the opposite ridge to Cerro León, a 1,113 meter (3,650 feet) peak in the center of the park (with spectacular 360-degree views.) We will return via the trail that heads southeast across a ridge separating the Ixcanal and Guayapa valleys, offering even more impressive views along with chance wildlife encounters. We will spend the afternoon relaxing by our cabins, or just birding around the beautiful surrounding camp grounds. At night we will enjoy a well deserved dinner.
Day 3 (Morning)
We will wake up early in the morning to coffee and breakfast, and then continue with our expedition. Today we will descend to the bottom of the jungle, were we’ll reach Los Enganches. This is the junction of two rivers: the Guayapa and the Venado. This is actually an excellent place to swim, rest, enjoy a snack, and of course, watch birds. Look out for Ivory-Billed (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster) and Northern Barred (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) Woodcreepers, Greenish Elaenia (Myiopagis viridicata), Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulphurescens), as well as for Rufous-and-white Wren (Thryophilus rufalbus). Down in the rivers, watch for Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), White-collared Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris), Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), and the Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus). After the hike we will return to the hostel in order to pack our stuff, take a hot shower before heading north towards our next destination: Montecristo National Park.
Day 3 (Afternoon)
The mountain peak where the borders of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala come together is called “El Trifinio”, which happens to be the second highest peak in the country (2,418 mts). Years ago the three countries joined efforts and formed a national park to protect this unique natural habitat which is now known as Montecristo National Park. Due to its different altitude levels (800 - 2,418 mts) the park has a variety of ecosystems, each providing the opportunity to experience some of the reported 233 bird species; of which 15 are endemic to the northern region of Central America. Fortunately for us, the best access and facilities to enter and enjoy the park’s many wonders are on the Salvadorian side. Upon arrival we will settle down in our basic, but comfortable cabins, where we will spend the night, relax, and enjoy the environment. The cabins and camping areas are located in the middle of a huge pine-oak forest. After dinner we will explore the surroundings with our flashlights, hoping to catch a glimpse of an owl or any other of the forest’s nocturnal creatures.
On this morning we will wake up to the many sounds of the forest. We will enjoy an early breakfast before heading out to the woods. We will hike to the highest areas of the park, where many of the prominent bird species can be found in the cloud forest. These species include the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra), the Amethyst-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis amethystinus), the Slate-colored Solitaire (Myadestes unicolor), and the Spotted Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus dryas). The main path to the top leads straight up the hill from the designated camping areas. We will hike our way through the pine forest and into the cloud forest at the summit. This is one of El Salvador’s premier birding areas. We will return to our campsite for lunch and some rest so we can be ready for another session of nocturnal birding.
Day 5 (Morning)
Wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk, so we must wake up as early as possible in order to enjoy what the park has to offer. We will not need to walk too far as many bird species will most likely be everywhere around us. This will be our last opportunity to watch the birds from our highlands. We will then have breakfast at our campsite before we have to pack our gear and start heading to our last destination, the white sand beaches of Costa del Sol and the mangrove forests of Jaltepeque’s Estuary.
Day 5 (Afternoon)
Our country has over 300 kilometers of some of the most beautiful coastline anywhere in the world. We have long, sandy beaches, small rocky shores with different types and colors of sand, rocky cliffs and extensive estuaries. With approximately 4,300 hectares, Jaltepeque’s Estuary holds one of the largest bodies of brackish water and also one of the main extensions of mangrove forest in the country. This is an excellent place for birding, and our cozy little beach house is located right in front of the main channel. No major plans for this evening, except taking it easy; perhaps rest on a hammock with a good book, taking a dip in our swimming pool, or just relaxing at the beach watching the sandpipers running around before getting splashed by a wave. At night we will enjoy dinner at one of the area’s local seafood restaurants.
Day 6 (Morning)
After breakfast we will board our boat (which is the only way to do any serious birding at this location), and head towards the mangrove forest. The vast majority of all the Salvadorian coastal and marine species can be found in this fragile ecosystem. Some like the Great Egret (Ardea alba), the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), the Mangrove Black Hawk (Buteogallus subtilis), are quite common and are even reported to nest here. Other main species such as the Plumbeous Kite (Ictinia plumbea), the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius), the Mangrove Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia bryanti), and the Mangrove Vireo (Vireo pallens) can occasionally be seen. After our morning run we will return to camp to have lunch and maybe take a nap.
Day 6 (Afternoon)
We will spend our last afternoon enjoying the beach right in front of our private property. This is what the country has always been famous for: beautiful weather, warm water, and amazing sunsets. In the evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
Day 7 (Morning)
Our Cadejo birding trip ends here. There may be time to stop by a shop before we drive you to the airport.
Please note: this itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect during our trip but it is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored to weather conditions and the interests of the group.
PRICE PER PERSON:
Wire transfer to Cadejo Adventures’ bank account.
50 % upon reservation
Remaining balance due 7 days prior to tour start date.
Standard Price includes
• All transportation including airport transfers.
• 6 night accommodation (single and double room occupancy).
• Use of all the accommodations’ facilities where applicable (including restaurant, pool, showers, etc.
• 6 full-days with professional bilingual adventure guides.
• We provide one guide and one vehicle per every group of up to 5 guests.
• Outdoor equipment rentals (field guides and binoculars for bird watching).
Standard price does not include
• Customs entry & exit fees.
• Lunch and evening meals.