Montecristo National Park in El Salvador is a fantastic area ideal for those looking to get in touch with nature. The National Park, also known as El Trifinio National Park, is a unique area that borders with the Trifinio biosphere reserve in Guatemala and El Trifinio National Park in Honduras.
This cloud forest is located in the department of Santa Ana, near the city of Metapan, in the northwest region of the country; it is part of the Protected Natural Area known as the Trifinio-Fraternidad cross-border biosphere.
About Montecristo National Park El Salvador.
Montecristo was the first protected area in the country, its principal purpose is to protect the astonishing flora and fauna found in the park.
The National Park is one of the natural areas in the country with the highest biological diversity; it has almost 2,000 hectares of misty forest located at an altitude of above 700 meters above sea levels.
The location and conditions of the park make it suitable for a wide variety of plants, animals, and other living things to fully develop.
Top things to do and see at Montecristo National Park in El Salvador.
All of the activities at Montecristo have to do with ecotourism, and they can be done in a day. However, because of the distance from San Salvador or Santa Ana and the restricted entrance times, it means that you are most likely to spend a night at the park.
Hiking to El Trifinio.
The most popular activity for those visiting the park is the hike to the summit of the park; this is were the El Trifinio mark is located. El Trifinio marks the highest point in the park and also the area where the three countries, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, converge.
The round trip to the summit will take you about four to five hours, it depends on your conditioning and the conditions of the trail.
If you are taking this path for the first time or with others who don’t know the trail, I highly recommend you do it with a guide as the trail is not correctly marked.
Explore the park and enjoy the Flora and Fauna.
You don’t have to take the trail to El Trifinio to explore the area and see plenty of Flora and Fauna; the park has many short trails much easier than the demanding climb to the summit.
These trails will take you to a viewpoint with panoramic views of Honduras, or it will take you to the river that has a series of small waterfalls for you to explore and enjoy. Explore Montecristo and enjoy astonishing Flora and Fauna that is available all over.
Visit the Garden of 100 years.
The garden of 100 years is a small botanical garden that features a wide range of plants, including a magnificent collection of orchids.
At the botanical garden, tourists can view more than 70 species of orchids. Furthermore, about 70% of the orchids discovered in El Salvador can be seen here.
Tips or recommendations for visiting Montecristo National Park in El Salvador.
Before venturing into Montecristo, you might want to follow these tips or recommendations; the first one is a must, or you will not be able to enter the park.
Get a permit to enter the park.
Montecristo is an open park; however, you can’t just go whenever you feel like it. To access the park, you are going to need a written permit from the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN)
Keep in mind that the permit process needs to be done about 48 hours in advance. On the application, you will need to provide the names of all people in your group, the license plates of all vehicles, and the passport number for the group leader or leaders.
Getting a permit is a tedious process that needs to be done; I wish there was a better way to do it, but it is the only system available at the moment.
Once the authorization is processed, the authorities will email you a permit which you need to print and present at the gate.
Get to the park on time.
This is something else that you need to pay attention to; even if you have a permit, you will not be able to get into the park after 1pm, even if you have the proper documents.
The park is an open space; nevertheless, to enter, you need to be there during the regular hours of operations. It opens from 7.30 until 11am and 1pm for those camping on the grounds.
To make sure that you have the correct hours of operations, you can call MARN at (503)2132-6276.
Use proper transportation.
If you are driving to Montecristo, make sure your automobile is equipped for all types of road conditions. It is better to drive on a 4 × 4 car, this is because parts of the road are very steep, and a sedan will not make it.
The roads to Montecristo are not well maintained, and this gets worse during the wet season. So, if you are going during the rainy season, make sure your car is up to the challenge.
If you want to visit and explore Montecristo; but, don’t want to deal with everything, such as permits or driving, go with a tour company.
The tour companies in El Salvador will deal with everything for you, getting the paperwork ready and driving you to the park.
Make sure the main trail to El Trifinio is open to the public
One of the top attractions at Montecristo is the main trail that takes you to the El Trifinio.
As previously mentioned, El Trifinio is at the highest point of the park and is where the borders of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala converge.
Even though the park is open the entire year, the main trail closes during the winter months or wet season, May to October.
The trail closes as a way to protect the fauna that lives in Montecristo; May to October is the breeding season for the species that live there.
To make sure that the trail to El Trifinio is open during your visit; you can call MARN at (503)2132-6276 and ask them about it.
The four tips or recommendations mentioned here are a collection of what others have said about the park. The number one on the list, can’t be ignored, if you don’t have a permit, you will not be able to enter the park.
Accommodations at Montecristo National Park.
If you are looking to spend the night at Montecristo National Park; the best and most popular way to do it is camping.
The park has three camping areas with plenty of internal security. Furthermore, if camping is not your thing, you can rent one of the two cabins in the park.
Each cabin has a capacity for eight people each, they are equipped with beds, gas cooker, and bathroom. The cost of renting a cabin is around $70.00.
Accommodations outside the park are basically non-existing; the only one I was able to found was the Hostal of Metapan.
In summary, if you like nature, pure air, crystal clear rivers, bird watching, hiking, photography, and other outdoor activities; a trip to Montecristo National Park in El Salvador is obligatory.
All the activities at this National park have to do with ecotourism. At Montecristo, you can be as active as you want to be; you can be energetic and hike to El Trifinio, or unwind and appreciate the astonishing Flora and Fauna, found all over the park.
Montecristo offers an astonishing setting for visitors to enjoy plenty of Flora and Fauna, in addition to fantastic hiking.