The Land of Volcanoes
El Salvador’s Land of Volcanoes
For millions of years, the Caribbean and Cocos tectonic plates have collided beneath El Salvador.
The resulting pressure uplifted the Caribbean Plate and melted the subducted Cocos rock, sending plumes of steam and mountains of lava to the surface through fissures.
Today, El Salvador’s rugged backbone can be described as a land of volcanoes, boasting over 100 volcanoes, many of which can be visited up-close.
Cordillera de Apaneca
In the west, the coffee-covered Cordillera de Apaneca consists mainly of volcanoes.
The tallest is Volcan Santa Ana—known locally as Ilamatepec or Mother Mountain.
From it’s summit—7,811 feet above sea level—you can view four nested calderas and a bright green sulfuric lake.
Santa Ana, Izalco, and Cerro Verde
Santa Ana and its two sister volcanoes—the black-coned Izalco and the thickly forested Cerro Verde—form the core of Los Volcanes National Park.
Guides and prearranged permits are essential for hikes of Santa Ana and Izalco, while Cerro Verde’s trails are open and freely accessible.
Coatepeque Lake and Isla Teopan
Just a short drive east, you’ll find Coatepeque Lake.
The lake fills a massive, low-lying caldera, formed over 50,000 years ago.
Visitors can explore the lake by boat, stopping to hike on Isla Teopan—the primary island and a Maya ceremonial site.
Surrounding attractions include coffee tours and hot springs.
One of Central America’s most accessible volcanoes is San Salvador or Quetzaltepec, a stratovolcano on the northwestern edge of San Salvador.
Here, visitors can peer down into a huge crater, rewarded with views of a newly-formed cinder cone.
The surrounding park also has hiking trails and botanical gardens.
San Vicente Volcano
The country’s second highest volcano—San Vicente or Chichontepec Volcano, at 7,159 FASL—is an hour’s drive east of San Salvador.
Trails lead through cloud-forest to the twin summits.
Here you’ll find two craters, steaming fumaroles, boiling mud pots and cooled lava flows.
El Salvador’s most active volcano is Chaparrastique—a conical giant, rising from the plain southwest of the town of San Miguel.
The volcano still emits clouds of white vapor, with most nearby residents recalling at least two major eruptions.
Full-day guided hikes to the summit can be arranged, allowing vertiginous views of the deep central crater.
Most hiking tours take a full-day. Sun protection, layered clothing, and shoes with chunky tread are recommended.
LANDED arranges guided-tours tours in each of these locations in El Salvador. At LANDED, each travel request is personal. After all, you’re trusting us with your most precious asset—free time with the people you care about. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.
Sir Edmund Hillary