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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.
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.
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.
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!
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?