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Published: June 28th 2018
Santa Ana street
Santa Ana was our pick of places to stay in El Salvador, it’s a medium size town and the trip to volcano Santa Ana looks to be one of the best things to do in the country, if you’re not into surfing that is.
We take the local bus from the town to the volcano park, known as Cerro Verde. Our guide book didn’t detail this in detail, so it’s a good thing we check this out beforehand as there are only 3 buses a day. We need to take the early one which we are told leaves at 07:30am (turns out to be 7:40) and takes the best part of 2 hours to cover the 30 or so km to the park entrance. On the way we are entertained by a local guy giving us a bible talk in Spanish. Most of it seems to be bible quotes interspersed with regular exclamations of “Hallelujah!”
Hiking in the country here is a little different than in other countries. Nowhere in El Salvador do they let you hike on your own. At Santa Ana as it’s a popular hike there are organised guides that lead a hike to the volcano
Santa Ana main church
crater leaving at 11am every day. These all seems to have a police escort, even though the group when we did this (on a weekend) must have been close to 50 people. If you have your own group you can, with a day’s notice, arrange to do the hike and the police will accompany you. Despite the security issues the hike is excellent, not too tough but a decent climb and rewarded at the top with a dramatic view down into the volcano crater. Equally impressive is the neighbouring volcano of Izalco which occasionally pops out of the cloud.
The town of Santa Ana is a slightly odd place. Other travellers seem to love it and I read that it is considered one of the wealthier towns in El Salvador, but objectively it isn’t that great. We stay in the historic centre and though there are a few interesting buildings (the theatre and the cathedral are the main ones) and the people do seem very nice, my main impression of the town is that it is very run down. Only 2 blocks from the main plaza the pavements are broken, the streets are piled with rubbish and every 3rd
Theatre Santa Ana
building is either boarded-up or derelict. I know the country has a bad recent history but the civil war here formally ended in 1992 – over 20 years ago – and though I’m sure progress has been made, it is quite clear there are still huge obstacles still to be overcome if the country is to return to normality. Not surprisingly we don’t meet many other tourists in our time here.
Boosted by our recent success crossing into Honduras from Guatemala, our journey here from Copan Ruinas was possibly our most ambitious travel day yet. To avoid the significant delays caused by the major roadworks in Honduras we decide to travel via here Guatemala. The distance isn’t huge but the road is not direct, so we need to cross 2 borders and take 6 separate local buses. But it all goes very smoothly apart from an annoying walk up the hill from the El Salvador border (we did some research on this route so knew in advance where we needed to catch buses). We make it safely to Santa Ana by 4:30 in the afternoon, after leaving Honduras at 8am and the whole trip sets us back less than
Interior or Santa Ana church
We only have a week in El Salvador as we have sensibly decided to fly to Costa Rica and avoid travelling through Nicaragua due to the current political instability and rioting.
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