The beautiful National Park Cerro Verde is located in the north-west of El Salvador. The park is administered by the El Salvadoran Tourism Institution and was reopened in 2002. Cerro Verde is an extinct volcano, which is now covered with a dense and green cloud forest. It is a lovely park with a pleasant climate in 2’030 meter above sea level. The mild climate makes it a popular place of excursion among national visitors and has also become a famous destination for international tourists.
The National Park offers a variety of activities and services to provide you a adventurous day on the vulcano. Apart from a recreational and picnic area, bathrooms, parking and kiosks, the park also offers bird watching, an orchid garden, playground, zip-lining, hikes to the volcanoes and recreational walks. You can observe the stunning landscape of El Salvador from the different viewpoints. You get a nice panoramic view towards the Izalco and Santa Ana volcano and also over the Coatepeque Lake.
The evergreen cloud forest is a refuge for many animals and birds. A total of 127 species of birds have been identified at the Cerro Verde National Park. One of them is the Guardabarranco or Torogoz – El Salvador’s national bird – which is believed to be one of the five best singing birds in the world. The park also offers three different recreational walks around the area: Mysterious flowers, Window to nature and Antique Mountain Hotel. However, most tourists visit the park in order to take part in a volcano hike, either to the Santa Ana (2’381 meter) or the Izalco (1’980 meter).
You can climb the volcanoes with a guided tour realised by the “Guías Turísticos” (tour guides) in cooperation with the El Salvadorian Tourism Institute. This involves young locals from the surrounding communities with the objective to give them the opportunity to learn and to dedicate their time to something different than agriculture and to open them the path towards tourism. The guided tours start every day at 10:30 in the morning. After a short presentation, the group of tourists decides which volcano they want to hike – normally there is only one hike to one of the two volcanoes a day.
The Santa Ana is El Salvador’s highest and most active volcano. Its last eruption dates back to 2005. Hiking up the almost 2’400 meters offers you some amazing panoramoíc views over the neighbouring towns, the Coatepeque Lake, the Cerro Verde and Izalco volcano and the scenic landscape. On top, the highlight is the incredible turquoise crater lake. The hike itself is of medium effort and is a roughly 4 hours roundtrip. It starts in the shades of the trees, however, the vegetation gets less the more you get up, making the walk more tedious because of the sun. The whole time you will be guided by two tour guides and a police escort, but no worries, nothing perilous has ever happened on a hike.
Take a bus #248 at 7:30 in Santa Ana, you will arrive Cerro Verde after a scenic drive at around 9:00, right in time for the volcano tour. The bus back to Santa Ana leaves at 17:30, this is the last bus!