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Sometimes it's the country which receives poor press that is best able to keep its beauty hidden from globe-trotters. I found El Salvador to be such a country. Sounding the fog-horn about it's political troubles and the export/import of gang violence, it is not surprising that as a tourist destination it was not on many people's agenda.True, there are security personnel in the malls, who carry arms, but they are just that. Security personnel. There if the need arises for them to be active. There are too few of them to make one feel that a national threat is imminent or that there are likely to be assailants around the next corner. They simply underline the need for security.From the inland border area of high volcanoes to the coastlines of black volcanic sand, the goodwill and sunny disposition of the people strikes a warm note of welcome for paddlesport enthusiasts. Most rain falls from October to February, so one can expect streams and lakes to be at their best from December on into the middle of the next year.There are many lakes to choose from on which to go paddlesporting. The high crater lake of Coatepeque, with hot springs near the lake's edge is a truly beautiful spot. There is a climb up to the top of the caldera from where one looks down onto the lake below. Deep, dark and mysterious, yet the water on the surface is quiet and still, affording easy and comfortable boating in a wide variety of ways.The Rio Lempa is the longest river in El Salvador and journeys in the upper regions parallel to the coast for quite a way before turning south, from the border with Honduras. Along its length, the Carron Grande Dam, built for hydroelectricity, provides a playground for watersports. Lake Illopango, another crater lake, offers recreational boating as does Lake Olomega. The latter is a little more difficult to reach. Water hyacinth (Salvinia Molesta) is beginning to be invasive on both these lakes.The Rio Lempa is quite a limpid river, flowing quietly for most of its length. As with all El Salvador Rivers, heavy rains and the hurricane season can cause flooding, It is good to be aware of these issues, and the weather report can give advance warning. Normally it is an easy ride, as its surface sees little disturbance.The Rio Grande de San Miguel is a short river flowing from North to South, draining directly from the Central highlands, offering some exciting kayak and canoe rides along its length. The Paz River is a popular rafting river, with waterfalls pounding into it as paddlers go along, giving a great ride.Another popular rafting and kayaking spot is the River Guajojo. This one has the added advantage of water being let out into it from a barrage higher up, making it an all-year-round venue.Companies can be found on the internet which offer a spot of river experience while visiting El Salvador, but it is worth keeping in mind the comparative cost of paying for a guided tour to owning your own folding or inflatable small boat and going on your own. At the end of the experience you will still have the equipment to paddlesport anywhere.
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