Santa Ana Volcano Hike, El Salvador

cratère du volcan

Hiking Santa Ana Volcano is a must do activity if you travel to El Salvador. It is the highest volcano in the country which culminates at 2381 meters above sea level. At its top, you will discover a magnificent acid lake as well as a breathtaking view of the surroundings.

The advantage of this Santa Ana Volcano hike is that it is very accessible. It is truly a family path, which although constantly uphill, requires very little effort. All levels will therefore be able to enjoy the magnificent view at the top. It will take 3.5 km of climb to reach the crater. It is therefore possible to do it in 1h30, some people can take up to 3h.

You will cross a major part of forest, on a small well cleared path, with sometimes stairs. Then as you approach the summit, you will see the vegetation become more sparse and dry, reminiscent of the scrubland. Finally, near the crater, you will walk on volcanic stones, from the lava flows of the last eruption in 1904.

At the top of Santa Ana, you will have the chance to discover a magnificent turquoise blue crater lake adorned with fumaroles. On sunny days, you will see Coatapeque Lake and the nearby volcano, Izalco. A spectacular landscape awaits you at the top of this volcano!

Where is the Santa Ana Volcano?

The Santa Ana volcano is located 40 km from the city of Santa Ana, in the Cerro Verde Natural Park. This protected natural area in El Salvador is also called Volcanoes Park. I found this park very beautiful, with dense vegetation and many flowers and shrubs. In the car park, you can find food and then move away a little to enjoy the areas designed for relaxation. It’s worth spending some time there, just to see a few hummingbirds and squirrels!

How to get to Santa Ana Volcano from the city of Santa Ana?

You can get to the park entrance by taking the 248 collective bus . You will need to buy your $0.80 ticket at the terminal counter. It’s pretty badly indicated, especially when you think you’re looking for a bus and not a building, as was our case. 🙂 Here is the precise address of the terminal in question to help you. The bus will then drop you off at the entrance to Cerro Verde National Park, where the walk begins.

It will take about two hours of transportation from the city of Santa Ana. It is quite long, as you will notice that Salvadorans hail the bus every 5 meters. Rather than regroup at a specific point, they disperse on the edge of the sidewalk and as soon as the bus starts, you have to stop again to pick someone up. It takes a lot of patience!

Note that to go down from the park, there is only one bus in the afternoon, at 4 p.m.

How to get to Santa Ana Volcano from San Salvador?

From San Salvador, it takes 76 km to reach the Cerro Verde Natural Park. As explained, the bus journeys are rather long due to the many stops as well as the low power of the engines. Coming from San Salvador by public transport will require you to get up very early, and I’m not sure you’ll be on time for the 9:15 a.m. group departures of the hike. The best option for you will be to opt for a visit to the Santa Ana Volcano that also includes transportation from San Salvador. Reservations are made here . The entrance to the park is also included, you will not have to pay anything more. This will allow you to enjoy the park, as it is forbidden to venture there without a guide.

Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador

The hike on the Santa Ana volcano, although simple and accessible, must be done with a guide. Due to frequent thefts, it is not allowed to go for walks alone. Frankly, it bothered us a bit. We prefer to walk alone and it was hard to see who could have robbed us since the police are keeping watch. But we wanted to see this pretty volcano so we had to obey the rules!

The guides are located at the entrance to the parking lot of Cerro Verde Park. You will find a small house in front of which they are posted around 8am. The guides will then offer you two formulas for walking in the park.

Group guides

You will start the trail as a group (about 15 people). Departure is at 9:15 a.m. from the parking house. You will have to pay $4/person for the guide, and later $6/person for entry to the crater.

Private guides

At the entrance to the park, you can also choose to opt for a private guide for a more pleasant walk. It will then be necessary to count $25 for the guide, and of course the $6/person for the entrance to the park.

It’s up to you to see what you prefer! We chose option number one, because we are stingyeconomical and honestly, we regretted this choice. Despite the simplicity of the walk, people in the group had great difficulty moving forward. The problem is that the guides forced us to always stay together. As soon as we got a little ahead, we had to stop to wait for the others. It’s very difficult uphill to find your rhythm. We managed to negotiate at the end to advance to the crater without the group, but we still had to wait for the group at the top, so we stayed there for an hour at the top. It was long ! We said to ourselves that we had just spent 3 hours on a path that would have been completed in 1 h 30 maximum. It spoiled our time a bit, so if we had to do it again, we would rather put the budget for our own guide in order to enjoy it better.

Beyond these few problems with the group, we really enjoyed hiking on this volcano. It’s a pleasant walk in a green park and the view at the top is magnificent. Even if it is a bit restrictive to have a guide, it is an essential hike to do in El Salvador, which I strongly recommend to you in order to enjoy the luxuriant nature of the country.

Where to stay to hike the Santa Ana volcano?

Casa 1800 Cerro Verde

If you want to treat yourself, know that there is an exceptional hotel in the park, the Casa 1800 Cerro Verde. It’s a real budget (approx. $190/night) but we didn’t regret it! In the heart of the national park, the very spacious suites each have a private garden, with a breathtaking view of the Izalco volcano and even of the ocean in the distance. After several weeks of travel in Central America in accommodation that was often sorely lacking in comfort, we found a real haven of peace and rest in the heart of nature. I raved because there was a bath mat (yes, I was at that point) but more importantly the bedding was amazing. A rejuvenating night and waking up to the songs of birds that came just in time to start again!

The hotel also has a restaurant, which is of fairly good quality and whose prices are not excessive for an establishment of this type.

Finally, it is ideally located for hiking to Santa Ana, since it is a few meters from the start.

Note for smokers: the Cerro Verde Natural Park is a protected area, it is absolutely forbidden to smoke inside the park. If you stay at the hotel, you will therefore be deprived of cigarettes, there is no smoking area. I prefer to warn, because when you’re a smoker, it’s torture and it’s not reported before!

Captain Morgan Hostel

To get closer to Cerro Verde National Park, you can stay at the Captain Morgan Hostel, which is located on the shores of Lake Coatepeque. The terrace is magnificent, with a breathtaking view of this splendid caldera lake. You can take a dip in a pretty little swimming pool, or even in the azure blue lake. The rooms are basic, the terrace with its hammocks is the big plus of this establishment.

To get to Parc du Cerre Verde, all you have to do is wait for bus 242 which passes in front of the hotel gate, then change at El Congo to take bus 248, which will take you to the entrance of the Park. Count approximately 1 hour of journey.

There you go, you know everything to be able to go on your hike to the Santa Ana volcano. I hope you’ll like it as much as I do, and don’t hesitate to give me your opinion after your visit!

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