I’m so excited to tell you about the 7 Waterfalls hike we did during our time in Juayua! This might be the thing I enjoy the most during my 10 days in El Salvador. If we’d had better weather for the Santa Ana volcano hike, that probably would have been my favorite activity, but alas, it was not to be.
Emma and I arrange through our hostel to do the hike on our last day in Juayua to allow more people to sign up. For every two people that join, our price drops $4/person. And we’re in luck! It turns out seven people sign up for the tour.
Our guide meets us bright and early at Casa Mazeta and we set off on a brisk walk through town. I love these trees painted like Salvadorian flags.
Can we stop for a second and admire this view? It’s the first day since we’ve arrived in El Salvador that we’ve had any real sun at all. The mountains are beautiful! I’m so glad the weather has held for us today, though I’m sure the rain and thunderstorms will close in again tonight.
After about 20 minutes of walking, we come to what appears to be someone’s home. I think we’re picking up the ropes and helmets we’ll use later, as well as an extra guide and a few dogs.
OMG PUPPIES! I seriously can’t even handle their cuteness.
We stop for about 10 minutes before we’re on our way again. It’s only 8:30am, but the heat and humidity is already starting to creep up. I guess that’s the down side of the nice weather. But boy, I’m not mad about these views.
It’s a baby pineapple! So cute.
The trail takes us through several coffee plantations, though the rugged terrain and overgrown hillsides make it hard to recognize that that’s what we’re seeing. Only the presence of several coffee plants gives it away.
We pause for a minute to rest and everyone takes the opportunity to find some shade. Did I mention yet that it’s hot?
And we’re off again, trekking through more coffee plantations.
I read that you can do this hike on your own, without a guide, but I would have been lost five minutes in. At times it feels like we’re not even following a trail and others I think, “Where the hell are we going?”. Eventually though, we come to our first waterfall. It’s like a Garden of Eden, so cool and refreshing. I wouldn’t mind standing under the falling water for the rest of the day. But we press on. At least there are six more to come.
A note of caution – make sure to wear sturdy footwear you don’t mind getting dirty and wet. There’s no help for it, you will be walking through waterfalls, creeks and rivers. By the end of the day, nearly everything I own is completely soaked. Thanks to my bag, my camera gear stays dry.
Right after the first waterfall, we come to the second. And this one’s a doozy – we get to rappel down it! We take it in two sections – the first is just a steep bit of hillside.
Then we have to gear up for the real deal. There’s only three helmets so one guide helps us rappel down while the other brings a spare helmet back up to the next person in line. It’s quite the little system they have worked out.
Go on Emma, you got this!
You literally climb down through the waterfall. How fun is that? Actually, it is quite slick and you have to be careful, but the guides are very attentive. We all make it down with no mishaps.
And here’s the waterfall from below, after I descend.
Once we’re all at the bottom, the guides set about taking all the ropes down. I’m impressed with how easily they navigate up and down the falls with nothing to hold on to, carrying all that gear. They’re probably thinking “Ropes? We don’t need no stinkin ropes!”
Most of the dogs are able to make it on their own, but one is rather sickly. One guide climbs back up to help him down. I’m happy they are taking care of him. So often in developing countries, animals are left to fend for themselves. But you can clearly tell these dogs love our guide, and I can see why.
I don’t often take selfies, but when I do, it’s with a dog.
By this point, I assume we aren’t coming back the same way. While it was a lot of fun coming down that waterfall, I don’t think it would be very easy getting us all back up again. I ask the guide in broken Spanish, and he confirms that we’re making a loop. What a relief!
Just around the corner is our third waterfall. By now we’re all soaked through and take turns standing in it full on. Well maybe not full on. It’s cold!
Next the trail takes a turn for the tricky (say that five times fast). We have to navigate a bunch of boulders and a river to get to waterfall number four. Several people pick up hiking sticks to help keep their footing.
Waterfall four! We’re over halfway! We can’t get very close to this one, but it’s easily the tallest one we see all day.
Waterfall five is where we stop for lunch. We’re all starving by this point, and despite our wet clothes, we’re very warm. We sit with our feet in the water, enjoying the rest while our guides make us all sandwiches.
Waterfall six is really pretty, but since we’re so close to our swim stop, we don’t stay long.
At last, there she is. Waterfall seven. That beautiful, cool slice of heaven I can’t wait to jump in to.
Incredibly, after all that effort, I’m the only person who wants to swim. Everyone else is either too cold or too nervous to give it a try. The sun has disappeared behind the clouds cooling the temperatures down, but I did not come all this way to not swim in a waterfall. I’m getting in. I love the water too much not to.
The guide asks me if I want to jump off the rocks above. Um, of course I do!
He points out the rocks in the water below and tells me not to jump down, jump out so I’ll miss them. Got it.
Holy smokes that was fun! I still can’t believe I’m the only person who wants to swim. Seriously, no one else? Eventually one of the guys does slip in briefly. Yay for company!
The dogs are clearly content napping in the sunshine.
And Emma has found herself the cutest puppy. No, you cannot take it home with you Em.
I swim with the guides for around 45 minutes. Then it’s time to make our way back to town.
If you’re not into a lot of hiking, you can do a much shorter trip where you just come to this waterfall to swim. You can skip the other six waterfalls as well as the sometimes treacherous scrambles up and down the hills. But if you can, I really recommend doing the full tour. It’s challenging at times, but so much fun, and the reward is swimming in a waterfall at the end. Totally worth it!