El Salvador's helpful national tourism organization, CORSATUR, has a useful English-language website (www.elsalvador.travel), a central office in San Salvador, and offices in Suchitoto in the north, Nahuizalco on the Ruta de las Flores, and Puerto de La Libertad along the Balsamo Coast; see the box "CORSATUR Offices," below, for specific info. Alternatively, you can always head to the local city hall, called the alcaldía, where you'll find the occasional English-speaking employee who can help you out. It's best to do as much research as possible before arriving in El Salvador because most towns don't have tourism offices or English-speaking tourism officials.
If you speak Spanish, some of the country's best sources for local information are the Casas de la Cultura, or Houses of Culture. Nearly every town in El Salvador has a Casa de la Cultura, which serves as a small community center, in addition to dishing out tourist-friendly information. They're not designated tourism offices, so the quality of the information is hit-and-miss, but they're by far your best shot at getting local information in the country's smaller villages.
Other valuable tourism organizations include the following:
SalvaNatura (33 Av. Sur 640, Colonia Flor Blanca, San Salvador; tel. 503/2279-1515; www.salvanatura.org) administers and provides information for Parque Imposible and Parque Nacional Los Volcanes. It's open Monday to Friday from 8am to noon and 2 to 5pm. Staffer Ben Rivera speaks English.
Institute Salvadoreño de Turismo (ISTU; 719 Calle Rubén Darío btw. 9a and 11a Av. Sur, San Salvador; tel. 503/2222-8000; www.istu.gob.sv) provides information about El Salvador's parks and has a great website. It's open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 3:30pm.
Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Km 5.5 Carretera a Santa Tecla, Calle and Colonia Las Mercedes, Building MARN No. 2, San Salvador; tel. 503/2267-6276; www.marn.gob.sv) is the organization you have to call to enter Parque Montecristo.
Passing by the Turicentro
Don't let the name "Turicentro" or "Tourist Center" fool you. You'll see signs for these outdated parks near towns, lakes, and mountains around El Salvador, but they're nothing special. Though some have pools, and small restaurants or comedores, they're usually decades-old parks with cement picnic tables and chairs painted in 1970s colors with a few cinder-block cabins. Turicentros are open daily 8am to 4pm and cost $1 to enter. They are run by the Instituto Salvadoreño de Turismo (ISTU; 719 Calle Rubén Darío btw. 9a and 11a Av. Sur; tel. 503/2222-8000; www.istu.gob.sv).
San Salvador: Edificio Carbonel 1, Colonia Roma, Alameda Dr. Manuel Enrique Araujo and Pasaje Carbonel, San Salvador (tel. 503/2243-7835; www.elsalvador.travel; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm). The office offers local and national maps and brochures, and tourism official Claudia Argumedo speaks English.
Puerto La Libertad: Malecon, Puerta de La Libertad, La Libertad, El Salvador (tel. 503/2346-1634; firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat and Sun 9am-1pm).
Nahuizalco: Km 71 Carretera CA-8, Nauizalco, Departmento de Sonsonate (tel. 503/2453-1082; email@example.com; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat 8am-4pm). No one in this office speaks English, but they do offer some English-speaking hotel and attraction brochures.
Suchitoto: Calle San Martín, Barrio El Centro, Suchitoto, Departmento Custcatlán, El Salvador (tel. 503/2335-1835; firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat and Sun 8am-4pm). Ask for Manuel Selada.
La Palma: 1a Calle Pte, La Palma, Departmento La Palma, El Salvador (tel. 503/2335-9076; email@example.com; Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat and Sun 9am-1pm). This small office close to the town square has a friendly staff and lots of literature on the area.
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.