Los Chorros de la Calera is a beautiful cascading waterfall hidden just outside the town of Juayua in El Salvador. While visiting this town, my travel buddy and I knew we absolutely had to make the hike to see these beautiful falls.
We were able to arrange our tour through our hostel, Casa Mazeta, the morning we wanted it. The guide was already out on one tour, but he could take us when he returned around 10am.
We decided against wearing our swimsuits because 1) we’d heard that the water was freezing and 2) we weren’t sure there’d be time for our suits to dry before we would have to pack them up and leave the next day.
At 10am our guide leashed up the hostel’s dog and we headed out. It was quickly established that we really didn’t speak much Spanish and that our guide didn’t speak English. Still, as we made our way out of town he would stop and point out different things: Mango trees. Avacado trees. Zapote trees. A feather from the national bird of El Salvador. He explained about the coffee plants we passed, doing his best to help us understand the coffee growing process.
After walking down a polluted dirt road for about 10 minutes, we came to a house. He explained that it was his house and that he needed to stop by quickly. We waited outside and were soon back on our way down a small path to the side of his property. A young boy, maybe 13 or 14 years old, joined us, bringing along his 24-inch machete. The dog was unleashed and followed by another dog that had been at the house. They darted back and forth across our path, running up into the jungle as they chased intriguing scents.
The trail consisted mainly of rocks and mud that was just barely dry. Had it been raining, I’m sure the trail would have taken on more of a slip-n-slide kind of feel. We emerged after carefully stepping over some barbed wire fencing that had been pushed to the side.
Down a large dirt hill more suited for vehicles, we continued our walk until we came to a chain-link fence which stood about 15 feet high. In the fence was a small door, opened for visitors to the waterfall. We crossed through the doorway and continued down a path with large and small rocks thrown into a disarrayed staircase of sorts.
We could hear the falls before we saw Los Chorros de la Calera. Around a bushy section of trees, there they were. It was so much more beautiful than in the photos I’d previously seen. We got close enough to dance in the mist, when we noticed an entry point at the other end.
Down and around we went, climing up to the lip of the pool which contained the falls’ water. To my surprise, the water was crystal clear and you could see the bottom of the pool. We took off our socks and shoes and tested the temperature of the water. We had heard it was freezing, but it turned out to be no worse that the lakes we have back in Michigan. I regretted not putting my suit on. I sat on the edge of the pool and relaxed my feet, which had started to feel crampy from the uneven trailway.
A few locals showed up and dove into the pool, happily swimming around and jumping off high points on the rocky wall behind the falls. To the right of Los Chorros de la Calera was a tunnel, where the water flowed through to an unknown location. A group of young boys entered the tunnel, which allowed just enough airspace for their heads. They let out loud whoops and shrieks as they went further into the tunnel. Slowly, the hollers quieted and I wondered where they ended up.
We pulled our feet out of the water and dried them off. With shoes and socks back on, our guide led us further past the falls to another set of falls just around the corner. It turns out this was where the tunnel led, as the boys for earlier splashed eachother in this new pool. We sat here a bit longer and I noticed another tunnel leading away. I figured it led to another section of waterfall, but our guide showed us no more after this one. He motioned to all the garbage lying on the ground and explained to us that the visitors and locals at the falls keep leaving trash. He said that when he and his family come, they do their best to clean some of it up.
As we began our hike back up all the trails, I had not realized how far we had really gone. It didn’t take long to become drenched in sweat and to start panting in the humid El Salvador air. Eventually, we made it back to the guide’s house. We had a quick break where I guzzled down the contents of my water bottle and was able to regain my breath.
Our guide led us back to our hostel, stopping once to pick the stem off a plant on the side of the road. He told us it was edible, so I took a big bite. It was like biting into a piece of raw asparagus, but the flavor was more a cross between celery and a very sour apple. Our guide told us that in addition to being a healthy snack with salt and chile, the plant was also used for medicines. He then happily gobbled up the whole thing. I took a few more courtesy bites, and tossed it into the bushes when our guide wasn’t looking.
We got back to our hostel a little after 12:30pm. We were sweaty and sticky, but very happy about our $2.50 tour to Los Chorros de la Calera.
If the hike to Los Chorros de la Calera sounds like something you want to add to your El Salvador itinerary, here are all the things you should know before you go!