Land of Volcanoes: Lamatepec
January 1, 1970
by Ana Cea
As many of you may know El Salvador is the smallest country located in Central America, but guess what? Is a country where you can find great volcanoes so this time we went to visit, in my opinion, the best volcano ever! And you will learn why.
You can go by bus or by car to The Volcanoes National Park located between Santa Ana and Sonsonate. I would recommend you go by car, there is a secure parking lot so you can leave the car in a safe place. You pay for the entrance like $5 per person or less and you can choose to visit Lamatepec or Izalco Volcano.
Well, Lamatepec is easier to hike than Izalco. And at the top of Izalco you don´t have anything but the great view. (Wait for it)
Best way to hike Lamatepec Volcano
Around 11 am the tour begins, but you have to be there like 1 hour before that time, you have to start walking to descend “El Cerro verde” there are so many steps going down that you will think that it´s gonna be easy, that´s what I thought the first time I went. And after 15 minutes going down, you have to start walking all the way up to the Lamatepec volcano.
So this is what happens, you start walking and walking and you won´t see anything but trees. This is gonna last for 1 hour if you keep your pace. Then you start seeing a lot of big rocks and fewer trees so there are another 30 minutes of that, you will feel how the temperature is changing, how you suddenly start feeling the wind and the view, is getting better.
You get to see a lot of paths made of rocks that is exactly where a river runs when it rains, also you get to see that the end of the hike is coming because you don´t see trees anymore, you only get to see rocks. This is the difficult part of the trip. Because you are tired and your legs are feeling a little bit shaky. However let me tell you my friend: the best part is coming.
You will see Izalco Volcano next to you, you will see the most beautiful lake (Coatepeque lake) on your right side and you will see how the floor is changing, it used to be made of rocks and now is just sand. The temperature is usually between 6-8 °C.
So finally, you get closer to the most amazing crater, you will feel the wind getting stronger and also you will see a lot of people faces changing because they finally got there and the trip was worth it because when you get to see the amazing crater, the amazing hole… YOU WILL SEE A TURQUOISE MINI LAGOON.
And you will be at 2,381 masl.
As you can see in the picture, it´s the perfect background.
If you are wondering when was the last time that this volcano had an eruption, it was in 2005.
What you can find at the top of Lamatepec Volcano
So you have 3 things to admire at this moment at the top:
- The crater
- At the Right, Coatepeque Lake
- At left, Izalco volcano
It is unbelievable how the nature gives you this surprise, on the top of a volcano you have a gorgeous lagoon just to be admired because you can not go down so you can sit there and just appreciate the beautiful view, the contrast with the colors, take some selfies or if you have a drone you can take a video around the crater.
You need to know that is safe to visit this volcano, you will see some tourist police officers around and also you may be told yo start descending all the way back after a while because you will be smelling sulfur and it could make you feel dizzy after a while.
So YES, you need to take this trip. You don´t have to be fit to take it however at the end of this article you will find some tips that you can take into consideration.
Descending back to Cerro Verde
At the moment you will be going all the way back, it´s exactly the same route and you may think that will be easier, but your legs may be weak or shaky so no worries, it´s normal. It happened to me and I fell down a couple of times. But I can assure you something: the time will be shorter.
The whole trip may be taking around 4 hours, if you follow the local guide when you go down you will find a place where local people are selling fruits, water and snacks. Usually, they are only on the way back.
When you get to the point where you started to hike the volcano you have 2 options:
- Take a bus to the parking lot at Cerro Verde park that will be like $ 0.20 but it takes 30 min wait time to take it
- You can walk all the way back to the Cerro Verde parking lot.
It´s ok if you go by bus or walking, just make what is more comfortable for you.
Something that you can not miss is a hot chocolate that you can drink in the parking lot after you finished the trip. It cost only $0.50 and you can also buy some pupusas that is the most popular food in this country.
So don´t wait that long and if you have the chance to visit El Salvador this is a trip that you can take.
Something to take in mind
You can take the following tips:
- If you are not a sports person, don´t try to be at the same pace that the other people, take your own pace.
- Take water with you
- Take some candies with you
- There is no food at the top of the volcano, so you can bring your own lunch
- Wear comfy shoes and clothes
- Careful with the hats or sunglasses you may lose it because of the wind
You can see in the picture taken by a drone exactly what I have described above.