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Published: March 7th 2008
Ofanan´s original trip to MonteCristo, El Salvador - March '08
Isolated and pristine (...) thick cloud forest canopy, exotic orchids and abudant wildlife (...) views and photo opportunities are outstanding
Get advance permission from the National Parks and Wildlife Service in San Salvador (...) There is no place to stay here (...) bring all your own equipment, food and water (...)
none of the trails is well marked (...) hiking trails begin from Los Planes (1900m), a grassy clearing (...) Unforunately, getting to Los Planes is a challenge, and not the cheap one. If you have a 4WD (...)
(Description of National Park Monte Cristo, El Salvador at Lonely Planet).
The easiest part was getting to Los Planes. 2h of unpaved uphill, from which only the last half hour was really steep.
Obtaining an entry permission was also rather easy: I downloaded the entry permission request
, mailed it, and later called the National Parks and Wildlife Service in San Salvador, and got theirs permission. Everything in Spanish, of course, which may be proof #777 to "why it is so important to speak the language of the country where you are travelling".
I brought with me some food, 1.5 litters of water, and purification tablets. No need for more: there are enough streams in the area to fill the bottles from. El Salvador is not the Sahara desert.
Left with the accommodation issue. I usually don´t carry with me camping gear, as I´m too lazy for that. I´m not a natural sportman, and cycling itself is hard enough for me, even without carrying with me heavy camping equipment.
Therefore, upon arriving to Los Planes, I started asking the people in this tiny village about sleeping at theirs homes and guiding me in the park for some dollars. Quite soon I found a family who agreed. As usual, is wasn´t exactly a five stars hotel: the blanket stinked, the toilets were field toilets, and the "shower" was merely a cement tank of cold water and a little plate for putting water on yourself. But the family was very nice, and also gave me hot supper and a few cups of surprisingly good coffee.
Early morning on the day after, when I meant to go out for the hike, it turned out that the villagers cannot really guide me, as they surprisingly claimed that none of them actually knows the trail. They suggested to join me, but I found it rather stupid that actually I
would be the guide, and the local - the ¨GOLEM¨ accompanying me. I don´t need to pay for accompaniers. Anyway, if I get lost, I prefer to get lost alone, so that I can say KUS OCHTACK
in Hebrew: Sorry, but no matter how much I practice my Spanish, still, at hard times, my intuitive reaction is saying KUS OCHTACK
, and not HIJO DE PUTA
NO CANOPY, NOR BATICH
Very uncommon to a disoriented as I´m, I didn't lose my way.
And the views? well, they were nice, but nothing to tell home about. NO CANOPY, NOR BATICH
. And it took me a very long time. The guidebook claimed it´s a 7 kms trail? it took me 5 hours, and I hike quiet fast.
Only after 5 hours of walking, I found the solution to the anigma. I met a ranger, who explained me what was going on there: there are two
places call Los Planes in the very same area. I arrived to Los Planes the village
, and not to the camping site
. Thus, I hiked a very long way, only for getting to the park´s entrance.
YIPCKY CANOPY BEIKI
Theoretically, I could, ride to the "real" Los Planes, sleep there, and really hike in the park, on the day after. But I had no mental power to start the whole process again. "Pristine"? "canopy"? YIPCKY CANOPY BEIKI
. Mission was completed already after I slept in the village and visited actually two Los Planes
´s, rather than one. After seeing the mighty Torres del Paine
in Chile when I was 22, I'm not really after running for more good views. It´s nice, but it´s not the main issue. Be a traveller, not a tourist
Be a traveller, not a tourist
By a hired car or a guided tour you can see much more places in shorter time .... otherwise you waste so much time for passing through boring places on the way from one place to another
(a common opinion)
Travelling is not
about seeing one more volcano or waterfall (though it's indeed great to visit such beautiful places). Travelling is the little child who ran home for bringing me his bike pipe, after I was stuck in the road as I had a puncture AND my
pipe was broken; and the Albanian family at whose door I knocked asking for some water, and was given a whole lunch and suggestion to sleep there by free; and the little girl in the market today, who was so happy to see me with my funny colorful bike clotes, that she gave me an orange as a little gift. The punctures, the obstacles, and the mistakes on the way are not "wasted time" during the travel. They are the travel itself.
Be a traveller, not a cyclist
Upon reading that, one may get the (wrong) impression, that I mean that for being a real traveller you must be a screwed cyclist and at excellent phsyical shape.
Not at all. The museoms, galleries, coffees and markets make a substantial part of the travel. Below are some hints:
1. Learn the local language (say, Spanish). Read and try to understand everything you see - signs, newspapers, commercials. Talk to locals. Upon meeting an English-speaking local, ask him to speak with you only Spanish
, and use English only when you don´t understand. That´s the best way to learn.
Speak Spanish also with travels´partners and with other tourists.
2. Use public transportation, not a hired car. Well, unless you wanna spend most of your vacation closed in a closed cube of 4 square meters, isolated from the people and the landscape. And this is before we started even to talk about the ecology damage which private vehicle causes.
3. Wanna do something really fancy, off the beaten track? well, If you wanna real extreme activity you may try Banjie jumps, rafting or diving. But there´re also much cheaper and less demading off-the-beaten-track activities: Go to a local football match. Or to a theater show in Spanish. Go to the barber. Read local newspaper.
Tot: 2.62s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 19; qc: 80; dbt: 0.0281s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb