There has been plenty of opportunities to hike volcanos earlier on my trip and a couple of times i nearly done it, something has held me back though. First its been my knee problems but lately i guess it has been down to something called laziness.
Santa Ana volcano sounded like a perfect day trip from the town of Santa Ana where i'm currently staying. The volcano rises 2381 meters above sea level and its only a three hour hike up to the top and back. Only down fall is the limited amount of buses going there and back, had to get up early to catch the 730 am chicken bus. Ok, normally I'm awake at this time anyway but it's never a nice feeling when you have to set an alarm, makes it so much harder to get out of bed! After getting of the bus that took about 1.5 hours i had to wait around for the tour to start at 11 am. Yes there is only one tour a day and you can not do the hike yourself.
A few minutes before 11 am we were asked to gather and listen to the guide give instructions, all in Spanish of course and also in the speediest way he could. What i picked up from the 5 minute speech was:
After the security information we paid the guide USD 1 and then he took the lead in to the forest that would lead us to the top. We had walked for about 15 minutes and there was still no armed guard with us but then we stopped and picked up a police officer after paying USD 6 of course. With the guide in the front and the police man in the back we continued up the volcano. The start of the trail was very easy or at least i thought so when i was just behind the guide that kept a very good tempo. After checking behind me i did realise that not everyone appreciated the pace. Half the group did not keep up so there was a bit of waiting around sometimes. Kind of expected this since some in the group showed up in jeans and black loafers, not the ideal outfit but guess black loafers are better then flip flops!!!!
Around half way the nice trail turned in to a trail covered in rocks, best part of the whole hike in my opinions except for reaching the top that is. The rocks made it a bit more challenging and instead of thinking about how tired my butt was, I had to plan ahead on where to step. Oh I really need to start exercise again, getting way to unfit... Not as unfit as some in the group though. Us gringos and a couple of the El Salvadorians kept up with the guide but at one stage i was sure one guy would have a heart attack. He was several meters behind me but i could still hear his heavy breathing like he was hanging off my back. I was still keeping my first place in the line though, yes its always a competition:)
An hour and a half after setting off at the beginning of the Cerro Verde nature reserve we reached the top. The crater was just amazing with a turquoise pool of water. All sizzling and smokey it didn't look to inviting so no, it wouldn't be the place to go for a swim. It was a bit daunting to walk around and i didn't go to close to the edge, just got this image in my head how the ground would disappear and take me with it. I wonder what would go through the head if that happened and you fell and fell and fell. I was surprised when the guide told me that only one person has died there and that was 20 years ago.
Unfortunately it got really cloudy so we didn't get much more views other then that of the crater. It was very cool to see some clouds rolling in to the crater and cover it completely for a couple of minutes. After some snacks and rehydration at the top we set off down hill. Or at least most people had snacks, I had left mine behind at the hotel:( As you could imagine this was much easier to go down but it was a bit slippery and challenging in some places. Me and the guide who wanted to practice his english had a nice chat on the way down. Not sure why i asked the questions if there was snakes in the area but i was certainly not to happy when he said that there are three different species and two are poisonous. Of course he managed to spot a jumping viper shortly after we had that conversation, or at least that's what i think it was, in Spanish they call them El Timbo. So please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Around 230 pm we were back where we started and it was time to head back home. I was dead happy when i was offered a lift by a French Canadian couple that stayed at the same place as me. I just love people with a car sometimes! So a slightly bumpy but comfortable hour later i was back at the hostel and got my bikini on and just jumped in to the coldish pool:)
To Cerro Verde nature reserve from Santa Ana: Bus leaves at 730 am.
From Cerro Verde nature reserve to Santa Ana: Bus to El Congo leaves at 4 pm, here change to bus to Santa Ana (there is no direct bus)
Bus: USD 0.90 one way
Entrance to nature reserve: USD 3
Guide: USD 1
Guard: USD 6
What to bring:
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
WHERE AM I?