San Salvador, El Salvador
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clock-o9 hours (Approx.)
TransportHotel pickup offered
ticket-oMobile ticket
commentOffered in: English and 1 more

Overview

Relive the glory of the mighty Mayan empire with this half- or full-day tour of the most notable Mayan ruins in El Salvador. Explore the fascinating pre-Columbian villages of San Andrés and UNESCO-listed Joya de Cerén. After a typical Salvadoran lunch (own expense), admire the colonial landmarks of Santa Ana and stand in awe before El Salvador’s largest pyramid at the Tazumal archeological site in Chalchuapa.
  • Visit Joya de Cerén, the ‘Pompeii of the Americas,’ buried in the 7th century
  • Observe a preserved indigo processing plant at San Andrés archaeological site
  • Tour notable landmarks in Santa Ana, El Salvador’s second largest city (if full-day option selected)
  • Learn about pre-Columbian Maya civilizations at Tazumal and Casa Blanca (if full-day option selected)
Choose between 4- or 9-hour options for your tour; either option includes hotel pickup in San Salvador.
Meet your guide and set off in a comfortable p vehicle. This archaeological tour includes the undivided attention of your archaeologist guide.
Please see the Itinerary section for full details of both the half- and full-day tour options.

Itinerary

Half-day option (morning or afternoon): After an approximate 30-minute drive, start with a tour of Joya de Cerén, an archaeological site known as the ‘Pompeii of the Americas.’ Learn fascinating facts from your guide about the Maya farming community that was buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano around 600 AD. Recognized for its valuable contribution to understanding the pre-Columbian daily life of Mesoamerican populations, the excavation was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.
The next stop on your tour is the San Andrés archaeological site, another important vestige of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization from 600 to 900 AD. Visit the on-site museum, and view the pyramid and other structures used by the governors at this important ceremonial, political and commercial center. After the Spanish conquest, the site became a farm for indigo processing, and you can still see the preserved remains of an indigo mill that was buried by the eruption of El Playon in 1658.
Your half-day tour concludes with a drive back to San Salvador before you’re dropped off at your hotel.

Full-day option:In the morning, visit the archaeological sites of Joya de Cerén and San Andrés with your guide (see description above). After lunch at a local restaurant (own expense), you’re taken to the city of Santa Ana followed by the ruins of Tazumal and Casa Blanca.
In the afternoon, begin with a sightseeing tour of Santa Ana, the second largest city in El Salvador. Central to the country’s coffee industry, Santa Ana contains a grand plaza and plenty of cultural landmarks. Explore the colonial streets with your guide and visit highlights such as the neo-Gothic Cathedral of Santa Ana (Catedral de la Señora Santa Ana), the beautiful Santa Ana Theater (Teatro Santa Ana) and the national palace.
Next, drive to the town of Chalchuapa and visit the Maya ruins of Tazumal. This sophisticated and important settlement was at its peak from 100 to 1200 AD. Get a look at the largest pyramid in El Salvador before continuing to the nearby Casa Blanca archaeological park, which possesses a few partially restored pyramids.
Before you’re driven back to your San Salvador hotel, watch an indigo demonstration at the onsite workshop, which produces shirts, bags, shawls and other items of rich, blue hues made from the natural dye — all available for purchase.

Reviews

Viator Traveler's Reviews

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R
, Feb 2018

Tour was enjoyable and educational. Glad we went!

k
, Jan 2018

I had a great vacation in El Salvador. Thanks to my guide--Eduardo. He was punctual, professional, and very knowledgeable. He could make me feel better and much safer after I had been mugged in Guatemala.

b
, Dec 2017

We did the morning half day tour. Our guide was wonderful and was easy to talk to. He was prompt at picking us up and did not seem to rush us through our morning tour. He took us to two Mayan ruins and was also able to share cultural and historical information while we were driving between locations. Unfortunately the Joya de Ceren museum was closed for renovation but our guide was able to share a great deal of information with us as we walked through the site. I would recommend this tour to anyone interested in learning more about the Mayan history in El Salvador. I wish we would have had time to do the full day tour.

N
, Jan 2017

I had a full packed tour with the excellent guide Eduardo who proved a very knowledgeable companion. We saw the Mayan sites of Joya de Ceren, San Andres and Tazumal, the pre Mayan site of Casa Blanca and the colonial town of Santa Ana. While they are not on the same scale and most are only partially excavated Joya de Ceren is the only example I know of ordinary people's houses from the Mayan era, rather than religious buildings. We were also very lucky to witness a couple of celebrations of the Winter solstice by the indigenous community. I was also delighted to see the national bird of El Salvador, the Torogoz, perched on a tree!
Casa Blanca was interesting, although there remains a lot to excavate. Santa Ana was a good contrast to the other sights, being a colonial town, although it being a few days before Christmas meant that there was a lot of traffic near the center.

p
, Mar 2015

Senor Cesar was outstanding. He took very good care of all of us. He was very patient and knowledgeable and took great care to answer all in details. Thanks a lot for showing your beautiful country to us.


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