To begin with I wasn’t planning to hike at all. Having arrived into San Salvador just the previous night I had picked up a conversation with a Japanese traveller who happened to have been on the same bus as me, from Guatemala City. Over a beer at the hostel she mentioned about going to Santa Ana the next day and then to the volcano a day later. Ah considering I didn’t have any plan other than hitting the El Tunco beach I thought of tagging along and we were finding out the directions at the reception when this wonderful Scottish bloke from Ohio overheard us and offered to take use in his car as he was by himself. Thus from having no plan, I suddenly had the next day lined up to be on a volcano.
So the next morning we set off to Santa Ana in the morning. Normally to get there I’d have to take two buses n then a short walk to the entrance. Once we reached there however the rangers wouldn’t let us go up the volcano as 1. It was too windy and 2. There was no police escort, which is a mandatory requirement when going to the summit. Apparently there could be gang members enroute and it’s risky to go without an escort. Thankfully for us two groups of hikers with local guides came along and the guides convinced the rangers that they would take responsibility of everyone should anything go wrong.
And thus we set off to the summit. It wasn’t a difficult hike nor was it very steep or anything. The winds made it a little harder as we progressed to the top. There were parts of the hike where there was lose gravel but nothing life threatening as such. Along goth way there were 3 viewing points that looked out into the other volcano – #########.
The real fun kicked in when we were about 15mins away from the summit. Roughly about 300mts. The winds were so high that it was super hard for us to the wade through it. Every step I went forward came with a reward of 2 steps backward. Eventually after all that struggle when I made it to the top, the wind speeds were so high that I had to hold on to the pickets that were laid there for that very purpose. I reckon it was at least 100kmph if not more and for a moment it felt like I was in Wellington, the windiest city in the world 🙂
The summit came with its own reward though. The views of turquoise blue crater lake on one side, view of lake illepango on the other and finally the view of San Salvadoran jungles. All of them do totally worth it. After staying for about 20mins at the top, braving the winds just for fun and taking signatory selfies and videos, I made my way back. It took about 90mins to the top and about 45mins to the bottom. But those 20mins at the summit was what will this day be remembered for. Exhilaration at its very best 🙂