The Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador is an astonishing active stratovolcano that happens to be the highest in the country at about 7812 feet above sea level. This majestic volcano, also called Ilamatepec Volcano, is a top touristic destination for foreigners and locals alike.
This large stratovolcano is located in the Santa Ana department, west of the astounding Coatepeque Caldera. Furthermore, Santa Ana is one of the three volcanoes on the Los Volcanoes National park or Cerro Verde National Park, as is also known.
Undoubtedly, visiting and hiking this excellent Salvadoran volcano is a top thing to do in El Salvador.
Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador.
As we previously mentioned, getting to the top of this volcano is a popular thing to do by tourists; here are some of the reasons for taking on this challenge and making it to the top.
- Firstly, the marvelous scenic views. During your hike, either up or down, you will get extraordinary views of the area. Furthermore, at the summit, the scenic views are even better; these views include the pacific ocean, the other volcanoes, and Coatepeque Lake.
- Secondly, the unique four nested craters, one inside the other. They are a result of many violent eruptions and seismic activity.
- Lastly, the stunning turquoise lake inside the volcano crater.
Reaching the summit of this iconic volcano is a top thing to do in El Salvador. So, I hope the following information helps you when planning a trip to this amazing volcano. Without further ado, let us begin.
Where does the hike start?
Well, the hike to the summit starts at the main touristic office located at the base of Santa Ana Volcano; nevertheless, there are two ways that you can start this amazing journey.
- The first option is to simply drive to the base of the volcano and go from there. There might be an extra minimal charge as you will have to pay a parking fee.
- The second option is to start your hike at the base of Cerro Verde National Park. This route is longer as you will have to first get to the volcano base and then hike to the summit.
Some people like the second route because Cerro Verde National Park has plenty of flora and fauna that you can see on your hike. Nonetheless, it will be up to you to decide which route you take.
How difficult is to reach the summit?
The hike is not that difficult, but it’s not easy either. So, you need to have a basic level of fitness to make it; the trail to the summit is rocky with steep climbs.
From the main office at the volcano base, it will take you about 45 minutes to about 1.5 hours to reach the top; it will all depend on the pace of the group and trail conditions.
As you climb towards the summit, the terrain will change from mountain vegetation to deserted vegetation with grey and black rocks near the top.
Now, if you started your trip at the Cerro Verde National Park, you will probably need to add an extra 30 to 45 minutes to the trip.
The panoramic views from the summit are simply astonishing.
Once you reach the volcano’s summit, you will be rewarded with a marvelous panoramic view of the area.
I am sure once you reach the summit and see the panoramic views, you will feel that the hike was worth the effort.
The lagoon inside the crater.
Another top attraction at the summit is the beautiful turquoise lagoon that rests at the bottom of the crater.
The scenic views from the top are one of the main reasons to hike this volcano; but, the highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the stunning turquoise lake that sits in the center of the crater.
This is an active volcano, so the crater lake is regularly releasing Sulphur volcanic fumes that don’t smell that good.
By the way, the rim around the crater is about three kilometers in diameter.
How safe is the hike, should I be concerned?
As a Salvadoran, it makes me sad to hear people worrying about safety when hiking this volcano. Nevertheless, I am a realist and know that in the past, there were incidents of robberies along this hike.
However, since this is such a popular touristic destination, now things are different; security for visitors is a top priority for the government.
Every hiking group has a police escort and guides provided by the Salvadoran Institute of Tourism or ISTU.
The police escort is there as a precaution and to assist any hiker that may need help; and not because of danger.
Normal hiking schedule.
The hike to the summit at Santa Ana Volcano has to be done as a group and with guides provided by the Salvadoran Institute of Tourism or ISTU. The following is a normal schedule for this hike.
- The hike starts at the official entrance of Santa Ana volcano; the hiking groups depart, between 11 and 11.30am. As of today, the cost is $6.00 for Foreigners and $3.00 for Salvadorans.
- By 1pm, you should be at the summit and be enjoying the panoramic view and everything else. Most hiking groups spend about 30 minutes at the summit.
- Around 1.30 to 2 pm, you should start your descent to the bottom of the Santa Ana Volcano.
- If you are with a touring company, after the hike, they most likely will take you to Lake Coatepeque, which is nearby and is one of the top attractions in the country.
This is the most common schedule that it’s followed when hiking the Santa Ana volcano in El Salvador.
What to bring on your hike of Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador.
These are some of the things that you should bring on this hike. Some of them might seem obvious; nonetheless, it’s important to mention them.
- Use hiking boots instead of tennis shoes, the path is full of sharp rocks.
- Carry a jacket, at the top it gets windy and sometimes gets very chilly.
- Bring a hat or cap as it can get hot during the hike.
- Always bring plenty of water, you might need it.
- Bring something light to eat that will give you energy.
These are some of the basics things that you will need for your hike to the summit.
Accommodation at Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador.
However, there are accommodations available if you are looking to spend more than a day in the area. Here are some hotels in the area, they have great reviews online.
Furthermore, there are camping areas available in the area. So, finding accommodations will not be an issue.
No question, visiting this volcano and hiking to the summit is a top thing to do in El Salvador. Do not miss the opportunity of making it to the top of this large stratovolcano.
The hike to the top may seem like a hard thing to do, and it may as well be; however, once you reach the top and get to see the view, you will be glad you did it.