If you happen to be traveling the Ruta de Flores in El Salvador and you like good food, then you probably have plans on stopping by the Gastronomia Food Festival in Juayua (Read more about that here). But, there are plenty of other activities in Juayua to keep you entertained after stuffing your face with amazing steak. One such attraction is the famous waterfall known to the locals as, Chorros de la Calera.
This beauty of an attraction is actually a mix between a natural waterfall and a series of manmade dams, which culminate to provide a refreshing set of bathing pools, gorgeous panoramic views, and lots of awesome people watching, one of my favorite pastimes while traveling.
There are two ways to get to Chorros de la Calera, one of which is much more entertaining than the other. You can choose to walk—it takes about 20 minutes from the center of town and half of it is uphill through sand; the other half traverses a relatively boring section of town. ORRR you can choose to take a tuk tuk! These little things are amazing, cheap, fuel efficient, and fast. At most they can hold three normal sized Americans, but for a $1 you really can’t complain. If you’ve never been in one before, expect to giggle the whole way, because the novelty is worth the trip by itself.
After about five minutes in the tuk tuk you will arrive at the gated entrance to Chorros de la Calera and it’s about a 5-10 minute hike to the actual waterfall. Don’t let the litter fool you; the area ahead is really quite beautiful as a series of staggered dams creates a beautiful cascading effect with bathing pools on each level. When I arrived with two friends, there were probably 20 other locals scattered through the area enjoying the cool water and vistas.
OSHA would have a field day with this place. The rocks are rather slippery and to continue up the trail one must walk over a ladder that has been placed horizontally over a small ravine with no rails of any kind. Granted the span is only about 6 feet, but it’s definitely a bit nerve racking. It took me about 10 minutes of careful observation to work up the nerve to cross it, and I really didn’t have a choice as a 70 year old woman behind me was getting frustrated by my heehawing. Yeah, you read that right… Grandma Moses back there practically pushed me across the treacherous gorge while rolling her eyes.
I just kept reminding myself that the journey was half the fun, and it really was. You will hear a lot of people complaining about the cold water, but in 90 some odd degree El Salvador one doesn’t really mind cooling off. At least, I certainly didn’t. In addition to the pools, there are also some trails to hike, which is perfect for those who don’t feel up to a swim. If you bring food for a picnic, you could easily spend 4-5 hours enjoying this area by itself.
When you are ready to leave, you can either walk back to town or just grab a tuk tuk at the entrance and pay another $1. However, on the way back I actually ended up having to get out and push the tuk tuk up the sandy hillside while the wheels spun out blasting my wet body with dirt. Once again… the journey is half the fun—free exfoliating mud bath is what I kept telling myself.