Chaparrastique Volcano in El Salvador: San Miguel’s Active Beauty

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Dec 5th, 2022
Chaparrastique Volcano in San Miguel

Chaparrastique volcano in El Salvador, also known as Volcan de San Miguel, is a beautiful stratovolcano located in the eastern part of the country, near the third-largest city in the nation, San Miguel.

This amazing stratovolcano has been characterized for having small magnitude volcanic activity over its existence. Over the last 320 or so years, Chaparrastique has had over 30 eruptions that include lava flow and ash into the air.

Latest volcanic activity.

The Chaparrastique volcano is among the most active in the country, the latest activity of this volcano took place in 2013, 2014, and 2016.

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In December 2013, Chaparrastique volcano ejected ash and smoke that reached about five kilometers in altitude. The ash and smoke affected the nearby municipalities such as San Jorge, Alegria, and Berlin.

Furthermore, the ash reached all the way to the city of San Vicente, which is about 90 kilometers from the volcano, and even the capital of the country, San Salvador, which is about 140 kilometers away.

In February 2014, the San Miguel volcano had a small explosion that threw ash and smoke to an altitude of about 500 meters.

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According to the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the volcano activity lasted about ten minutes.

In January 2016, the Chaparrastique volcano had significant volcanic activity. A volcanic explosion threw massive amounts of ash and gases, up in the air, for more than 13 hours in a row.

The volcano RSAM units reached 1,300 when the normal RSAM for this volcano is fifty. RSAM stands for a real-time seismic-amplitude measurement system.

Hiking Chaparrastique volcano.

Chaparrastique is not the tallest stratovolcano in the country, the honor goes to the Santa Ana volcano; however, Chaparrastique is one of the most challenging to climb.

If you want to hike this volcano, I highly recommend you do it with a Salvadoran tour company or a well-known local guide who knows the area and the volcano, and private escort from the MITUR police.

Touring guide or Touring company.

Why do I need a guide? Well, you will need a guide for different reasons; to start with, the volcano is not available to hike all the time; if there is volcanic activity, the authorities will stop you from exploring the volcano.

Also, to reach the top, you will need to get through private property; so, you might need the assistance of a local guide who knows the landowners and the best trails.

Additionally, the area around the volcano on the lower part is heavily forested. Therefore, a local guide will be able to take you through the paths that are not marked or visible.

Once you get through the forested area, it comes the difficult part of hiking this volcano. In the last section near the summit, you will find step slopes with loose rocks; at this area of the hike, you will most likely use your hands and feet to move forward.

To sum up, a tour guide can help you navigate your way to the volcano summit.

Police escort.

Lastly, it is highly recommended for you to get a private escort from the MITUR police; the cost will be minimal, and you might not need it at all, they are there mostly as a precaution. In El Salvador, most volcano hikes will involve a police escort, as previously mentioned, there are there mostly as a precaution.

The Chaparrastique volcano summit.

Getting to the summit of this fantastic stratovolcano is difficult; but, it is worth it. The volcano has a double crater that changes over time due to volcanic activity. Also, you will see volcanic gases emitted from the volcano vents, and you will also be able to smell the sulfur arising from the crater.

The top of the volcano will give you fantastic views of the city of San Miguel, the gulf of Fonseca, Jiquilisco Bay, and the farmland around the volcano. Additionally, on a clear day, you might get a glimpse of the San Vicente volcano, which is about 90 miles away.

Chaparrastique volcano El Salvador
Chaparrastique volcano.

Chaparrastique volcano.

Hiking the mighty Chaparrastique volcano is an epic adventure ideal for those looking for a hiking challenge and who love extreme adventures.

As previously mentioned, the hike to the volcano summit is challenging as there is no clear path; you need to go through private property, and the last part before the volcanic-summit is really steep.

If you are looking to hike a volcano in El Salvador, but don’t want a challenging hike; look into exploring the Santa Ana Volcano or Izalco Volcano as they are easier to hike.

However, if you want to hike an active volcano with a challenging trail; then the Chaparrastique volcano is the one for you!