As El Salvador starts looking towards a post-pandemic future where tourists can travel again, it’s worth checking out some of the activities available in this tiny country. In this article, Eddie Galdamez looks at his four favorite volcanoes in El Salvador to hike up.
Looking for something fun and challenging to do outdoors in El Salvador? Well, volcano hiking is a great option. El Salvador has about twenty (some still active) volcanoes scattered across the country and some are perfect for hiking.
Below are my four favorite volcanoes in El Salvador to hike.
Santa Ana Volcano (also called Ilamatepec)
The Santa Ana Volcano is the tallest stratovolcano in El Salvador and one of the most active. It’s also one of the easiest to climb, making it one of El Salvador’s most popular tourist spots. You’ll find Santa Ana Volcano in the west of the country, in the Cerro Verde National Park.
The hike from the base to the summit takes between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on your fitness level. Once you reach the summit you’ll get incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, Izalco Volcano, and Lake Coatepeque. You can also check out the turquoise lagoon inside the crater.
They call Izalco Volcano the Lighthouse of the Pacific (el Faro del Pacifico). During a spate of eruptions in the 1700s, ships at sea could see the lava spouting outat night, making it look like a lighthouse.
It’s a young volcano and, like Santa Ana Volcano, located in the Cerro Verde National Park. Unlike Santa Ana Volcano, this one is a challenging hike, so you should be in shape to attempt Izalco.
If you’re up for it, you approach an Izalco hike in four stages, starting from the Cerro Verde National Park entrance.
The first stage is from the park entrance to the base. This means climbing down a trail of about 1,500 steps through a heavily-forested mountain. This is not for the faint-hearted, especially during the rainy season.
From there, the second stage is the hike to the summit. The trail is steep, and the terrain rough with loose, sharp rocks and massive boulders all over the path.
Once you reach the top, your reward will be incredible views of the Santa Ana volcano and the Pacific Ocean. The summit area is also full of fumeroles venting volcanic gases into the atmosphere.
Now comes part three, the hard part of getting back down. It’s a steep path full of loose rocks. This is slow and tiring as you spend a lot of energy trying not to fall. stage as you will use extra energy, being careful not to fall.
Lastly, after spending most of your energy climbing down from the summit, you have to climb up those 1,500 steps back to the park entrance. This gets old very fast.
There’s no doubt Izalco is a challenge. But if you like extreme hiking, it’s well worth it and a lot of fun.
Conchagua Volcano is an eroded stratovolcano, covered in dense vegetation, in eastern El Salvador overlooking the Gulf of Fonseca.
People come here for the beautiful sunrises across the islands of the Golf of Fonseca, where you can also see Honduras. The idea is to get up there the day before, camp out, and get up early for the sunrise.
Conchagua has three campsites, one at the volcano base and two up near the lookout point. If you stay at the lower campsite, you’ll need to get up before dawn and hike to the viewpoint to see the sunrise.
After that, head back down the volcano to hang out at any of the nearby beaches.
San Salvador Volcano
If you’re looking for a volcano to hike close to San Salvador, then you’re in luck. Those who don’t want to venture too far out of the city can go to the El Boqueron National Park, where they’ll find the San Salvador Volcano.
Also known as Quetzaltepec, San Salvador Volcano is perfect for all visitors. The volcano offers easy hiking on well-kept, marked trails.
The trails will take you to different viewpoints where you can view the huge crater called El Boqueron. There’s also a smaller crater inside El Boqueron called El Boqueroncito.
A great adventure here is to hike down into El Boqueron and camp out for the night next to El Boqueroncito. This is more for the extreme hikers, though, as the hike down can be tough.
The four volcanoes listed here are not only my favorites, they’re also the most visited in El Salvador.
There are plenty of other volcanoes to check out for adventurers who want to get off the beaten path. Just make sure you take local advice on safety and volcanic activity before you put on your hiking boots and start trekking.
Eddie Galdamez is a Salvadoran blogger and web designer who loves writing about his country. His favorite topics include tourism, politics, culture, and overall life in El Salvador. He runs El Salvador Info, a blog about all things El Salvador.