Volcano Santa Ana – El Salvador’s beautiful giant

Jun 11, 2020 | Travel

from Henning

Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher in Germany now. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”

Volcano Santa Ana: The 6 most frequent questions of travelers

The volcano Santa Ana, actually called “Ilamatepec,” is El Salvador’s most prominent volcano – and for sure, one of the most beautiful places in this country that you should visit.

I would like to give you some impressions about “Santa Ana” and answer a few questions about your trip if you’re planning to do one.

Please contact us if you have any more questions!

Why should I hike up to the volcano Santa Ana?

Well, at first, the view is breathtaking! The hike up to the volcano Santa Ana is not that difficult and takes you about 1.5 hours up and 1 hour down, maybe a bit more depending on your fitness.

The way up is not too steep and leads you through a beautiful shady forest first and later through a rocky landscape filled with beautiful flora. The big agave plant with its large flower is always impressive and worth a couple of photos!

I strongly recommend not to miss hiking up the volcano Santa Ana. It’s a lovely day trip that will leave you behind with some adorable impressions. Don’t miss it!

santa ana volcano

Will I suffer altitude sickness hiking up on volcano Santa Ana?

Not really! The volcano is 2381metres high. Usually, that’s not high enough to cause serious health problems. If you’re not used to physical activity and high altitudes, you might feel a slight headache. Be sure to hydrate properly and have some breaks during your hike.

Bring some snacks and sleep well the night before. But in general, it’s not a big thing. We’ve seen people running up the volcano in like 45 minutes.

santa ana volcano

How much does it cost to hike up the volcano Santa Ana?

Well, it depends on how you organize your tour. In general, it is recommendable to take a guided tour from El Tunco, El Zonte, or San Salvador for this trip.

It’s a bit more expensive, depending on the size of the group, but we don’t think it’s worth the hassle to take a public bus to Santa Ana and do it on your own. It saves you a lot of time and nerves to do so.

The entrance to the national park is US$6, and you usually tip the guides (US$1-2 per person). The costs for a tour from El Tunco and El Zonte vary from the number of people who are part of a group.

You will have to leave early in the morning around 8 am from El Tunco, and you will be back around 4 pm.

Hiking up the volcano Santa Ana you will also have a view of its “smaller” brother: the volcano “Izalco”:

santa ana volcano


What should I bring for the trip?

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Bring at least 1.5-2 liters of water!

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Proper Shoes

Don’t hike in flip-flops!

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A light Jacket

A light jacket might be helpful on the top, especially if you’re used to the heat in El Tunco or El Zonte.

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Bring some cash to tip the guide and pay the entrance for the national park.

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Sun protection

The sun can be strong up there and you can get sunburned easily!

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The views can be spectacular!

When is the best time to hike up the volcano Santa Ana?

If the wheater is bad and cloudy, you should consider not hiking up the volcano because you might get wet and can’t see a lot.

But even during the rainy season, it is possible to hike up the volcano. The latest tour starts at 11 am at the Cerro Verde National Park ranger station.

I recommend avoiding the days when Salvadorans have public holidays (Easter, the first week of August, Christmas time, etc.). The volcano Santa Ana has become more and more popular during the last few years.

There can be up to 200-300 people on the crater sometimes (well, there’s still enough space left, but there might always be someone in your photo).

Also, on the weekends, there might be more traffic up there. It’s possible to hike up the volcano Santa Ana before sunrise and take some gorgeous photos.

But you need to arrange it at least two days before and get up pretty early.

If you hike during the “spring”-season, you will be able to see the impressing huge agave plants along the way:

el salvador volcanos

Do you have any more practical tips for the tour?

You can’t hike up the volcano Santa Ana on your own! You will need a guide who will go with you to the top. It’s mainly for your safety; some people get incautious, and of course, they don’t want anyone to fall into the crater or damage flora and fauna in the area.

Also, it’s an extra income for the people who work as a guide.

Please be sure not to leave any rubbish up there! Bring proper shoes, at least 1 liter of water, some snacks, sun protection, and maybe a light jacket for the top of the volcano. And please don’t fall into the crater!

If you want to hike up the volcano “Ilamatepec,” the hike to the waterfalls of Tamanique might be an option for you. You can get more information here:


Also, there might be some interesting information for you on this website:



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