While more and more international tour operators run trips to  El Salvador, they are almost always contracted out through local operators, such as those mentioned here. Booking directly will save you a bundle. A bundle! Most are based in the capitals or the main tourist towns, such as Granada and León. Many hotels and lodges will also help you organize a tour in their particular areas.

Akwaterra (Zona Rosa, San Salvador; tel. 503/2245-2614; www.akwaterra.com) arranges surfing, kayaking, and fishing trips, as well as a stay at their Lodge La Escondida in the coffee plantation El Portezuelo on the Ruta de las Flores.

Eco Mayan Tours (Paseo General Escalón 3658, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador; tel. 503/2298-2844; www.ecomayantours.com) organizes tours all around the country, including a city tour of the capital and an excursion to Parque Nacional de Las Volcanes.

Eva Tours (3a Calle Poniente 3737, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador; tel. 503/2209-8888; www.evatours.com.sv) is a large, catch-all agency that runs tours in every region, including the coast and Morazán. It also has a branch in the Sheraton Hotel.

Imposible Tours (Av. Cuscatlán near Calle 10, Tacuba; tel. 503/2417-4268; www.imposibletours.com) arranges 6- to 8-hour day and night tours of El Imposible, as well as an 8-hour waterfall hike.

Sophia Tours (Plaza Via del Mar, Local 3, Puerta de La Libertad; tel. 503/2242-7841; www.sophiatours.com.sv) is another conventional agency that runs tours under themes such as archaeological, artisanal, colonial, and ecological.

Tropic El Salvador (Av. Olimpica 3597, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador; tel. 503-2279-3236; www.tropicelsalvador.com) has some imaginative tours such as surfing on the Río Lempa and a Maya route that crosses into Guatemala and Honduras.

Eco Tourism La Mora (Suchitoto; tel. 503/2323-6874; www.ecoturismolamora.es.tl) offers Spanish-only hiking and horseback tours around Suchitoto and nearby Volcán Guazapa.

Gringo Tours (Calle Francisco Morazan #27, Suchitoto; tel. 503/7327-2351) is run by the wise and knowledgeable American expat Robert Broz and offers fascinating tours that specialize in the archaeological heritage and civil war history of the area surrounding Suchitoto.

U.S. & International Adventure Tour Operators

These agencies and operators specialize in well-organized and coordinated tours that cover your entire stay. Many travelers prefer to have everything arranged and confirmed before arriving in  El Salvador, and this is a good idea for first-timers and during the high season. Most of these operators, however, are not cheap, with 10-day tours generally costing in the neighborhood of $1,800 to $3,000 per person, not including airfare.

G.A.P. Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761; www.gapadventures.com) has adventure and leisure tours in more than 100 countries, including Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Journeys Latin America (tel. 020/8747-8315; www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk) is a specialty travel agency focusing on all Latin American destinations.

Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance/MEA (tel. 800/682-0584; www.travelwithmea.org) offers a handful of very specific, all-inclusive, multiday tours in Nicaragua and El Salvador that explore many of the top and most remote national parks in the country.

Mountain Travel Sobek (tel. 888/831-7526; www.mtsobek.com), an off-the-beaten-track adventure travel operator that is no stranger to luxury, has 7- to 9-day trips in Nicaragua that take in volcanoes, lakes, and rainforests.

Overseas Adventure Travel (tel. 800/493-6824; www.oattravel.com) offers good-value natural history and "soft adventure" itineraries with optional add-on excursions. Tours are limited to 16 people and are guided by naturalists. All accommodations are in small hotels, lodges, or tent camps. Their Nicaragua and El Salvador itineraries are usually part of larger Central America tours that take in several countries over several weeks.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.