The impressive Ilamatepec Volcano is the tallest stratovolcano in El Salvador. This imposing volcano is located in the western part of the Salvadoran territory; it rises to an altitude of over 2,400 meters above sea level, which makes it the tallest in the country.
Ilamatepec volcano, also known as the Santa Ana volcano, has an astonishing hike to the summit that is a popular tourist activity. This trek, to the summit, is considered one of the most beautiful walks in the country; hundreds of people do this hike every year.
Hiking to the summit of the Ilamatepec volcano is a top thing to do for foreigners that venture into El Salvador. The hike is a bit difficult; nevertheless, it is worth it, once you reach the top, you will have an impressive view of the surrounding territory.
About Ilamatepec Volcano.
Why is it called Ilamatepec? Because in the ancient Nahuatl language, it translates to father mountain or Cerro Padre in Spanish. It is the way the Salvadoran ancestors called it. And with good reason, since the Ilamatepec volcano is the highest in all of El Salvador.
Ilamatepec is part of the Los Volcanes Complex in the Apaneca mountain range. This is a coffee region, with a cloud forest and a pleasant climate.
Around Ilamatepec, you can see other volcanic wonders, such as the Izalco volcano, Cerro Verde, and Cerro Chino. In reality, this stratovolcano is part of a line of volcanoes, most of them extinct, that exist in the Salvadoran territory.
The Ilamatepec volcano is still active and has continuous gas discharges. However, the last intense activity of the volcano was in 2005. Currently, it is a safe place to visit in the company of the authorities that monitor the movement of the park.
The climate in the area is quite chilly compared to the rest of the Salvadoran territory. Here, you will be able to enjoy temperatures between 16 to 23 C° and down to 8 C° in the mornings and nights.
With its pleasant climate and its extensive vegetation, it gives rise to a variety of fantastic Flora and Fauna, which you can observe as you cross the paths that lead to the top of the volcano.
Climbing the Ilamatepec volcano.
Very well, now that you have decided to visit and hike this jewel in the west of the country, you should take into account some recommendations:
- Upon arrival at the start of the tour, you must register at the entrance booths. The entry fee is around $3 for nationals and $6 for foreigners.
- You cannot have or carry alcoholic beverages, cigars, music speakers, or weapons, while at the park.
- Local guides oversee the climb to the volcano’s summit, you can’t do it by yourself; additionally, members of the National Tourism Police or Politur accompanies each hiking group.
- Wear light clothing and appropriate shoes. Also, don’t forget to bring enough water.
The hike to the summit is a medium difficulty, and it will take about four hours to complete. The entire journey is through marked trails, with stops at astonishing viewpoints.
From the viewpoints, you can see much of the national territory, in addition to views of the Ocean, Lake Coatepeque, and a direct view of the Izalco volcano and the Cerro Verde mountain.
But the final goal, perhaps the one you will enjoy the most, will be to reach the top; there, you will find the beautiful lagoon located right in the crater of the Ilamatepec volcano. It is simply stunning!
Where to stay while exploring Ilamatepec.
Many people who like nature spend the night or a few days in the area around the Ilamatepec volcano. It is a great option as there is plenty of ecotourist areas to see and explore.
In the Cerro Verde National Park, where Ilamatepec sits, two sectors exist for visitors. In them, facilities have been enabled so that visitors can stay. Additionally, you can camp in the area; however, camping is not allowed in the upper area of the volcano.
How to get to the volcano.
If you are driving and traveling from San Salvador, you must take the CA-8 west towards Sonsonate. After crossing the municipality of Armenia, you will find a detour on the right-hand side; take it and go up that street until you reach the park entrance.
Ilamatepec and the Cerro Verde National Park are centrally located and can be accessed from different points.
On the other hand, if you travel by bus, you must first get to the Cerro Verde detour. Then you must take the bus called “La Vencedora” that will take you to another detour for the volcano. Finally, from this point, you must board the only bus that goes up to the Park area.
Visiting the Ilamatepec volcano or the Santa Ana volcano
The Ilamatepec volcano, or Santa Ana volcano, is one of the most recognized Salvadoran relics. Therefore, if you ever get the chance, venture into the Cerro Verde National Park and explore the Ilamatepec volcano. I am sure you will love it!