Santa Ana, El Salvador: Day 3

Early wake up call to catch the 248 bus from Santa Ana centro station (if you can call it a station as it’s really  just a street) at 7:30 a.m. to the Santa Ana Volcano with my new friend Eric who I met at my hostel yesterday. The bus ride was $.90 cents and approximately a 2 hour transport. There are these 3 volcanoes right next to each other (Izalco, Cerro Verde and Santa Ana) so we started at the top of Cerro Verde and hiked down to El Tibet in the valley between Cerro Verde and Santa Ana and then hiked up the bit more treacherous side of the valley to the top of Santa Ana. It took 4 hours round trip and probably a 13 km hike to summit at approximately 2380 meters or 7800 feet but that stunning panoramic view was really worth the work and the nasty bee sting I received. (Not allergic I learned which is good given I was on top of a volcano when it happened! The real question is do bees hang out on top of volcanoes…I guess so.)

The broad summit of Santa Ana has these concentric craters with crescent shaped rims which we actually got to hike on. The mouth of the volcano is massive and filled with a Robin Egg Blue colored water (according to Crayola) akin to that which I saw at Mirador Del Torres in Chile but here you can see actual steam venting off the water caused by the volcano’s heat. I wondered whether there was more steam today as a result of the earthquakes from yesterday and will have to check up on that.  The last real eruption occurred a little over a decade ago on October 1, 2005 when Santa Ana spit out car-sized lava rocks and a flood of boiling mud killing several people and causing the evacuation of thousands.

After a few Kodak moments, we finished the trek back at the top of Cerro Verde where for the first hour during our tamale snack (so good) we had the most incredible view of Izalco including its concentric crater but while sitting there I witnessed this magical and eery fog drift in and the volcano and the valley below disappeared right in front of my eyes and for that matter my camera lens as did we – at least to the rest of the world. From the peak I was sitting on, the clouds appeared to be dancing around  to the beat playing in my ear phones. It was increíble and my favorite part of the day…dancing in the clouds.  Now that’s saying a lot because the view into Santa Ana’s belly and the view of the picturesque Lago de Coatepeque were magnificent. The cost for this adventure today was $3.00 for entry into National Park, $1.00 for wristband and $4.00 for tour guide and the policia turismo. Plus $1.50 for breakfast (pupasas and fresh mango and bottled water). I spent another $1.50 for the tamales and a Coca Cola was an additional $.50 cents. This whole budget travel thing is amazing! I’m actually enjoying a little contest with myself to see how cheap I can make this trip and pass the data on to you.  FYI – you can just get off bus 248 at El Tibet, join a group going up at approximately 11:00 a.m. and avoid the $3.00 entry fee and a portion of the hike if you have a car or private transfer and want to sleep in a little.

Now back on the $.90 chicken bus back to my hostel for work and then SLEEP. Last couple days have been exhausting but oh what a view! Very different than the Masaya volcano with the flowing lava and very different from the volcano boarding at Cerro Negro – both in Nicaragua. This one you must see. It’s astonishing! And unless you are really disabled, grab a walking stick tailored made by the nearby trees and go. You can make it!

That’s all for now with a wow or two from Santa Ana, Cerro Verde and Izalco.

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