On Thursday, June 22nd, the Love & Hope kids enjoyed a day off of school for “Teacher’s Day” here in El Salvador. Rather than stay home to lounge around, some of us decided to take on a challenge: hiking the Izalco Volcano in Parque Nacional los Volcanes (Volcanoes National Park) of El Salvador.
Parque Nacional los Volcanes boasts two active volcanoes, Izalco and Santa Ana, separated by Cerro Verde, or “Green Hill.” From the top of the Santa Ana Volcano, one can even see a third volcano in the form of a volcanic caldera: Coatepeque Lake.
Last year, some of us hiked up to the top of the Santa Ana Volcano where we were rewarded with views of the Salvadoran landscape and the sulfurous, bubbling “lake” inside the crater of Santa Ana.
The Izalco Volcano is smaller than Santa Ana but looks drastically different and poses completely different challenges. Izalco’s nickname is “Lighthouse of the Pacific” for erupting continuously for over 150 years. Izalco’s last eruption was in the 1960’s and the steep slopes of the volcano remain covered in hardened lava rocks.
Before hiking up Izalco, we had to hike down Cerro Verde about 1,700 steps! Once we got to the bottom of the hill, the landscape changed completely from forest to lava. Scattered throughout the lava were beautiful red flowers. We took a short break before making our way up the volcano.
Several of the kids charged ahead, seemingly unfazed by the steep climb and rocky terrain. It was a difficult climb, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. It was a cloudy day, so once at the top of Izalco there was not much of a view to enjoy. But we found something else that was quite exciting: hot steam coming out of cracks in the rock! At one point, it felt like we were standing in a sauna!
As we rested at the top of the volcano we could also hear thunder. That meant we had to descend a little sooner than we would have liked. On the way down it began to rain. By the time we had re-climbed the 1,700 steps through the forest of Cerro Verde, we were soaked and exhausted.
All-in-all it was a great outing and we are so proud of the four kids who made the climb to the top of Izalco. They didn’t even complain about being very sore the next couple days (the adults did)! We love being able to provide these kinds of opportunities for our children, to enjoy the beauty and awesomeness of God’s creation!