If you are planning a trip to El Salvador then it will be simply worth it. You will not only enjoy the Mayan sites, colonial towns and beautiful beaches, but the major highlight of your visit will be to the Volcanoes National Park. Exciting… Isn’t it! You must have surely heard of volcanoes, but have you ever had a chance to visit such a park where you will see a series of volcanoes, which are of course dormant.
Let us now embark on an exciting day trip to the Volcanoes National Park, situated in the western part of San Salvador, and just only an hour’s drive away from this capital city of El Salvador. The park is spread in an area of 6,300 acres and has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere.
The Volcanoes National Park is a protected natural area encircling three huge volcanoes – Cerro Verde, Izalco and Ilamatepec or Santa Ana Volcano. The park is home to several types of habitats, which include forestry and coffee plantations, a sulfur lagoon and mist forests. The trees found in the mist forests can be seen providing habitats for various types of plants such as cactus, ferns, mosses, bromeliaceous and orchids. The park invariably attracts adventure enthusiasts and eco-tourists in large numbers with the major highlights being volcano climbs and nature hikes.
The three main volcanoes in this massive park have altitudes ranging from 500 to 2,380 meters above sea level. It’s simply amazing to find colonial structures and people with ethnic heritage residing on the slopes of these magnificent volcanoes. The climate in this area is relatively cool with average temperature of 6 to 8 degree C less than that of San Salvador. This is though variable. You will discover that some days are quite warm, while on other days there is a sudden fall in the temperature.
Here’s a brief overview of the three volcanoes at the park.
The Cerro Verde is an extinct volcano whose crater has eroded and covered by a cloud forest. The Cerro Verde, therefore appropriately means “Green Hill”. The crater provides a sanctuary to over 125 bird species and is a major attraction for bird enthusiasts. As you hike along the wooded trails of this extinct volcano, look out for the abandoned coffee bushes to get an insight in the golden era of coffee production in El Salvador. As you continue your hike moving forward deep into the mountain forest you will be fascinated to see many different kinds of animals and birds. The sight of the Harpy eagle, one of world’s largest eagles, as well as colorful birds such as the Green Jay and the Orange-chinned parakeet will make you happy. If you continue hiking and move further to the top, you are likely to find yourself in the midst of sudden thick, misty cloud cover. Climbing on the top of Cerro Verde is nevertheless a completely thrilling experience.
The Izalco Volcano, also nicknamed as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific”, is situated at a height of 6,404 feet above sea level. The eruptions out of this volcano provided a beacon of light to numerous ships crossing through the ocean at night for nearly 160 years. The volcano was born in 1770 and was among the youngest volcanoes in Latin America. The volcano has erupted more than 50 times ever since its birth. The volcano’s crater is devoid of vegetation because of the numerous eruptions over a 200-year period. A hike to the summit of the volcano can sometimes prove to be quite challenging for the experienced climbers because the mountain slopes are as steep as 45 degrees. However, once the crater is reached you will be fascinated with some spectacular scenery. For those looking to mix adventure sports with ecotourism, the tour of Izalco Volcano will be perfect for you.
The Ilamatepec or Santa Ana Volcano is situated at a height of 7,811 feet above sea level thus making it El Salvador’s highest volcano and third highest point in the country. While embarking on a visit to the volcano, you will come across many sightseeing points made of wood. When you reach at the top of the crater you will be mesmerized to see the emerald green lagoon inside. The sight of the small waterfall of crystalline water is also quite amazing indeed. From the crater you will also get amazing views of the Cerro Verde Volcano, Izalco Volcano, Coatepeque Lake and the Pacific Ocean. The tour of this volcano is simply awe inspiring.