Road tripping to Lake Coatepeque and Cerro Verde

From San Salvador, there are a whole host of options when it comes to deciding what to explore next, but one stood out above all others: Lake Coatepeque, a huge lake perched between a number of El Salvador‘s biggest volcanoes.

Jumping in to the amazing Lake Coatepeque
The owner of our hostel gave us the phone number of a local student who organised day trips out of the city. We called him, and he arranged for a friend to be our tour guide the following day.
Early the next morning, we hopped in Moises’ car and started our ascent from San Salvador. First stop: Lake Coatepeque. As we approached the lake you started to get the feeling that this was a special place. We took a sharp turn off the main road and down a dirt road that put the 4×4 through it’s paces. After a bumpy 5 minute ride down, we pulled up in front of the lake.
Quick stop at a roadside viewpoint. Look at the colour of that water!
Bright green trees covered the hills surrounding the lake, with the deep blue water reflecting the deep blue sky above. This was the perfect place for a lazy few hours just enjoying nature. As I hopped in the water, I’m almost certain that I was the only person in the whole lake. The cool, clear water was amazing. I could have stayed there all day (or at least until my hand shrivelled to the point of no return). Whilst floating there I realised how much I loved the feeling of being in the water, the silence of being under water. Not everybody is, but I am definitely a “water person”.
After lunch, we slowly drove up and around the hills surrounding the lake, stopping off at a few view points a long the way before arriving at the perfect place to take in the Izalco Volcano. Hotel de Montaña Cerro Verde still sits in opposite the imposing volcano, despite being abandoned in 1997 following a huge earthquake damaged it in 1986. Since then, another large earthquake further damaged the hotel in 2001 but the site remains open to explorers to take in the view. It’s quite surreal to walk through an abandoned mountain top hotel, which appears to have been quite hastily exited with fridges and other signs of life still in place.
Taking in the view at Hotel de Montaña Cerro Verde
As we arrived at the hotel, the clouds parted and the view got better and better and better. The volcano was huge, its slopes were steep and now, the sky above it was perfectly clear. I couldn’t have asked for a better view as we sat on the concrete ledge without saying a word. Sometimes, there are no need for words and this was one of those moments. When the silence lifted, our new friend Moises told us that he had once mountain biked down the side of the volcano – looking at how steep the slopes were, and thinking back to when we boarded down the side of a volcano in Nicaragua, I thought he might have been slightly insane. What a legend!
Selfie in front of the Izalco Volcano!
To finish an amazing day, we took a 30 minute hike through the forest for an incredible view of the lake and other volcanoes before hopping back in the car and making our way to Santa Ana…
I loved El Salvador, especially it’s natural beauty. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited?

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  5 comments for “Road tripping to Lake Coatepeque and Cerro Verde

  1. October 18, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Great article, Rich! We spent almost a month in El Salvador, but never made it to Lake Coatepeque. After looking at your pictures, we’re pretty bummed we missed it. Just another good reason to go back though, right?
    Jazza – NOMADasaurus recently posted…Ganh Da Dia – Vietnam’s Own ‘Giant’s Causeway’My Profile

    • October 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks Jazza! Nice to see you here, I really enjoy your blog. Exactly, it’s always nice to have an excuse to go back to somewhere cool!! Vietnam looks incredible 🙂

  2. October 18, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Lake Coatepeque. Cool.
    More than a handful of times I’ve stopped at the El Salvador Airport on my way to Lima (from LAX) but never thought about going outside, take a couple of days and see what’s around. Next time I will. Thanks for the post!
    1/2d recently posted…7 things to remember when visiting Angkor WatMy Profile

    • October 18, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      I would definitely make a stopover next time, it really is worth exploring. I will definitely be back!

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