We booked the trip on a whim the same day and we contacted gekkotrailsexplorer.com in a hurry on Whatsapp. They confirm very quickly that there are still 2 places available.
Then I have to:
- either make the reservation directly on the site and pay a deposit with PayPal (10$/person)
- either give the info via Whatsapp and I receive an email with a link to pay the deposit via PayPal (10$/person)
The appointment is taken and at 1:30 pm, a driver comes to pick us up and drop us off at a service station south of Sonsonate. We have to pay 15$/person to this driver. The driver advises us to stay inside the cafe at the gas station for security reasons. And the agency on Whatsapp also asks us to stay inside, the driver will pick us up at the café. Then we have to pay 10$/person to the shuttle driver.
That makes a total of 35$/person (including deposit)
At 2:30 pm, we arrive at this service station.
The shuttle, which arrives from El Tunco, is supposed to arrive between 3:00 and 3:30 pm. But no news. At 4pm, I send a whatsapp to the agency, which tells me that the shuttle is late and will arrive only at 5pm
In short, we spent 2h30 in a service station with an air conditioning too strong. But it seems to be the case of all the international shuttles & buses, they always have delays between 1h and 2h ( since the bus crosses all the countries from Mexico to Panama, with the stops at the border posts that go with it, the delays are hard to avoid). Having been delayed, we cross the borders with the trucks. The driver tries to make his way, but it still takes a lot of time to cross the two borders (Salvadorian and Guatemalan). Moreover, while giving us the forms to fill in, the driver asked us 2$/person for nothing. Once again, it’s a common practice for international buses to charge us 2$ just to provide a form…
At the borders, no payment to make, everything is very smooth. Still no stamp for El Salvador but a nice stamp for Guatemala.
Theplusses: the pick up and drop off is done in front of our hotel in Concepcion de Ataco, and in front of our hotel in Antigua. And the permanent contact on Whatsapp with the agency.
What about the Ticabus option?
Then, the TicaBus option wouldn’t have been cheaper, with an early departure at 6:50 am from Ahuachapan. From Concepcion de Ataco, it would have cost me $0.4 to Ahuachapan. And from Ahuachapan to Antigua, I would have had a connection to Guatemala City, and I would have paid $32 in total for Tica Bus + cab to my hotel = $35/person too.