Sensational volcano walking holiday in El Salvador

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8
13 Nights / 14 Days
El Salvador
El Salvador

El Salvador is the smallest country in the region and one of the most delightful. Our superb 2 week walking holiday takes us on journey around the country, walking to the summit of 8 of its 20 volcanic peaks as we go. Along our way, we also take time out to experience El Salvador’s colourful colonial towns, cloud forest trails, Maya ruins, coffee plantations and stunning beaches. Starting in El Boqueron National Park, we take the short walk to the viewpoint on San Salvador’s namesake volcano (1800m). Heading east to the Los Volcanes National Park, we hike up the perfect cone of Volcan Izalco (1952m) and scale San Salvador’s highest volcano, Ilamatepec/Santa Ana (2381m).

Day 01: Arrive San Salvador
Meet-assist at International Airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 02: Short city tour. Transfer to El Boqueron National Park. Trek to the viewpoint on San Salvador Volcano. Visit Joya de Ceren.
An easy day to ease us into the holiday. In the morning we head into San Salvador for a short tour of some of the main sites; The National Palace, Church El Rosaria and Plaza La Libertad. Afterwards, we drive 15km to the pine clad National Park of El Boqueron. Here we’ll find San Salvador volcano (1800m), which literally had its top blasted off giving way to an amazing crater 1.5 km wide and 500m deep. We have an short 15 minute walk to the viewing point from where we can take in the vastness of the crater. Hiding at the bottom of the crater is another ‘mini’ crater or locally called ‘El Boqueronsito’ which was formed with the small eruption at the volcano back in 1917. In recent years the northwest fissure has been the most active; it’s eruptions have been responsible for burying the ancient village of Joya de Ceren, known as the ‘Pompeii of America’, which we will visit in the afternoon. This ancient village was buried by volcanic ash and has allowed the preservation of personal belongings, gardening tools, religious utensils, plants and seeds. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993 on the basis that it is the only location in the whole Mayan world where you can appreciate the day to day living styles of the inhabitants. Ten structures have been excavated, including houses, warehouses, workshops, kitchens, a sauna bath and a religious structure. In the afternoon we transfer (1hr 30mins) to the town of Ataco in the mountains near the National Park El Imposible. Drive time: 2hrs.

Day 03: Coffee plantation tour and soak at the hot springs.
Ataco is located within the mountains of the Ruta de Las Flores, famous for its abundance of wild growing flowers. This region has beautiful panoramic views of the mountain side coffee plantations, lagoons and dense cloud forests. It is the region with the highest concentration of coffee plantations in El Salvador. Historically coffee has been a major export for El Salvador and in the 80’s it provided more than 50% of the country’s export revenue. These days it provides less for the GNP of El Salvador, however it is an important visit to make when in El Salvador. There are 30 coffee-producing municipalities in this area, the most important are: Apaneca, Ataco, Tacuba and Juayua. You will have the opportunity to learn about coffee shrubs, coffee growing, coffee production and agro-forestry at Finca El Carmen. El Carmen produces designer coffee, also known as ‘Gourmet, High Altitude’ coffee (1200m to 1750m altitude). Your guide will describe each stage of coffee production and explain how the coffee bean is transformed into a premium coffee for export to companies like Starbucks, American Airlines and the Holiday Inn, among many others. In the afternoon we can relax at nearby geysers and thermal baths at Santa Teresa hot springs.

DAY 04: Morning trek up Volcano Izalco (1952m).
We make an early start and drive to the Los Volcanes National Park. Here, the volcanoes of Izalco (1952m), Ilamatepec (locally known as Santa Ana at 2381m) and Cerro Verde are set within an area of outstanding natural beauty and immense biodiversity. Early in the morning we take off to hike up Volcano Izalco. This volcano is more difficult to climb up as Ilamatepec /Santa Ana (which we ascend tomorrow) as the cone is a steep and covered in ash. We take our time to enjoy the great view to the coastline and the valley of Cerro Verde. Apart from the final pull up to the top there is a lot of wildlife in the park, including many types of hummingbirds and the black birds known as chara, which feed other birds such as toucans, during their mating season! There are also many beautiful orchids growing in the forests. In these forests we may be able to spot some amazingly tall 300 year old trees. After our walk we transfer to our overnight accommodation in the nearby Cerro Verde National Park. This a fixed glamping campsite with some great views of the Volcano Izalco which we have just walked. Overnight Cerro Verde. Drive time: 1.5hrs.

Day 05: Today’s volcano walk is llamatepec/Santa Ana (2381m). Transfer to El Pital, close to the Honduran border.
Early in the morning we will walk up Volcano Ilamatepec/Santa Ana. At 2,381m it’s El Salvador’s highest volcano. This volcano has four craters, one of which had a sulphur lagoon until the day it of its most recent eruption, on 1st October 2005. The volcano is located within the hills of Apaneca, surrounded by cloud forests, in region full of coffee plantations. Some people say that this is one of the most beautiful treks in the country. It starts in Las Burmas Ecopark. We walk through some high plateau and dwarf forest. We have great views to the enormous Laguna Coatepeque, which is next to the volcano. From the crater rim on today’s volcano we can see into the small aquamarine crater lake, which is 300m deep, and gives off a significant amount of heat. In the afternoon we transfer (approx 3hrs) to the northern part of El Salvador, El Pital. This is the highest point in El Salvador at 2730m close to the Honduran border with pretty mega views into Honduras and Guatemala. Overnight at a hostel around 2400m high on the mountain of El Pital, surrounded by the cloud forest. Drive time: 3-4hrs.

Day 06: Walk up El Pital (2,730m), the highest point in El Salvador.
At a height of 2730 metres, El Pital is the highest point of El Salvador. The peak, which is not a volcano (!), is surrounded by cloud forest and pine trees in a region noted as a habitat for several endangered species, such as the quetzal. Our return hike to the summit takes around 3 hours and from the top we can enjoy sensational views over into Honduras and across to the volcanoes of Pacaya and Agua in Guatemala. After our walk, we have lunch in the town of La Palma, which is famous as the home of local celebratory artist Fernando Llort. His work can be seen everywhere in the town, in the form of murals and in all the local art shops. We have plenty of time to explore the colourful La Palma. We then transfer to Suchitoto, a little colonial town with cobbled streets where we check into our hotel for the next three nights. Drive time: 2hrs.

Day 07: Trek up to the summit of the dormant Volcan Guazapa (1438m). Return to Suchitoto.
Another day, another volcano! The dormant volcano Guazapa. It is not possible to walk to the summit of Guazapa, but we have a lovely long walk through some of the most beautiful plantation and forest landscape in this part of El Salvador. We include the highest areas at 1200m where we can see the ancient volcano crater and volcanic rock formations. Guerrilla forces occupied this upland area during the Civil War of 1979-1992 and there are some interesting relics of this conflicts found alongside our path. We have a traditional lunch made by the local community. Return to Suchitoto and our hotel. Drive time: 1hr.

DAY 08: A day to enjoy the interesting colonial town of Suchitoto.
A day of sightseeing in the small and colourful lakeside town of Suchitoto, which has a wealth of interesting colonial era houses and churches and charming cobbled streets. The lake is man-made and was created by the damming of the river in 1974. It has a very interesting ecosystem and is a magnet for ornithologists who come here to observe a variety of species including pelicans, herons and storks. We will take a boat ride out to some of the lake’s little islands, such as the Isla los Pagaros. The afternoon is free for further exploration and independent sightseeing. If you want to sample some typical Salvadorian cuisine we can recommend heading to a Pupuseria to sample some traditional Pupusas!

Day 09: Volcano number 6! Chinchontepec (2173m). in the region of San Vicente.
And today’s volcano is Chinchontepec, or otherwise known as San Vincente and if you are counting this is the 5th El Salvadorian volcano! The volcano has two peaks, one at 2173m and the other at 2083m. We climb the highest of the two. This is the second-highest volcano in the country, and has the largest vertical gain, it is also supposedly the toughest of all to climb due to terrain and accessibility. From the summit, we can see almost the entire country. Between 600-1600m we walk through the coffee plantations, and above this we are in the dense cloud forest to the top. We are rewarded with some great views. We return via the same route and transfer to our accommodation, the mountain ‘cabanas’ in Berlin or Alegria, at the foot of the volcano. Drive time: 1.5hrs.

Day 10: Transfer to San Miguel. Summit Volcan Chaparrastique (2129m).
This morning we transfer to San Miguel, home of the mighty Volcan Chaparrastique. At 2129m high and a with a crater 800m across, it is considered to have one of best perfectly-formed cones of Central America, as well as one of the most active volcanoes in El Salvador. In the eruptions of 1819 and 1835, the lava ended as far as the town of El Borbollon. Chaparrastique still produces clouds eruptions of smoke and dust but is currently considered safe to its visitors. This is the hardest volcano to climb on your journey in El Salvador, a steep 9 hour trail to the crater.

Day 11: Boat trip across the Gulf of Fonseca and explore Islas Meanguera and Zacatillo.
After a full-on and challenging day yesterday, we spend the day relaxing and exploring as we board a boat and set sail across the Gulf of Fonseca, a body of water shared by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. As we cross the gulf we will be treated to stunning vistas of small volcanic archipelagoes, small fishing villages and black-sand beaches. Once the stomping ground of 17th centuary pirates, this beautiful region entices the traveller in with lovely coves and warm waters. We stop off to explore the trading post of Isla Meanguera and climb the small Volcan Evaristo before sailing to Zacatillo for lunch, perhaps making the most of the spanking fresh seafood on offer. Depending on the season, the keen observer will be treated to glimpses of playful dolphins, migrating birds and sea turtles. We head back to the mainland and return to our hotel.

Day 12: Our last volcano! The towering twin summit of Volcan Conchagua.
The twin peaks of Volcan Conchagua overlook the Gulf of Fonseca. Known as Cerro del Ocote and Cerro de la Bandera, we will walk up to one of the two cones. There are numerous active fumaroles on both peaks, making for an atmospheric trek. Conchagua boasts some of the finest views across the coastline. From here you can see across to the islands in the Gulf, as well as the city of La Union and the territories of Nicaragua and Honduras. After our descent we transfer to El Cuco.

Day 13: A day of R&R at the beach hotel at El Cuco.
Day of relaxation at the beach. The morning is free and in the afternoon there is an optional surf lesson from an expert instructor, or it might be possible to visit one of the local community turtle conservation farms at Playa Lacal, where we have the opportunity to learn about, and participate, in the conservation and monitoring efforts being carried out by this beach community. Overnight at the hotel.

DAY 14: Departure day. A single transfer to San Salvador Airport is provided.
After breakfast we transfer (approx 2 – 3 hours drive) to San Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport, where KE Land Only package services end. Depending on flight times we may have the morning enjoy the beach and resort).

City Night (s) Hotels 
El Salvador 03 Inter-Continental San Salvador-Metrocentro Mall
Cerro Verde 01 Fixed Camp
El Pital 01 Hotel y Restaurante El Tejado
Suchitoto 03 Los Almendros de San Lorenzo
San Vicente 01 Guest House
San Miguel 02 Western States Inn San Miguel
El Cuco 02 Hotel Miraflores, Playa Las Flores

– Meeting and assistance by our representative.
– Welcome with fresh flower garlands.
– 11 Nights hotel accommodation.
– 01 Night Fixed Camp.
– 01 Night in Guest house.
– Daily Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners.
– Local English-speaking guide
– All transfers, sightseeing, excursions as per the program by private vehicle.
– Entrance fees to monuments.
– Transport, Parking, Gasoline & Toll ways.
– All present government taxes.

– International Airfare.
– Tips, gratuities, Portage, laundry, telephone calls, table drinks, camera/ video camera charges, or any other expenses of a personal nature.
– Visa fees, personal insurance.
– Any item not specified under cost includes.

– Accommodation in good hotels.
– Check-in / out time is 12 noon at most of the hotels.
– Extension to other places is also possible with a minimal extra cost.
– Additional nights are available at each place with minimal supplement.
– A visa is required and must be obtained prior to your departure from your Country.
– If quoted hotel is not available, we will provide one of a similar category and standard.
– Small deviations in the tour program are sometimes necessary, depending on weather, road conditions, flight schedules and room availability.
– In case the government changes presently applicable taxes, increase in airlines prices, fuel surcharge our rates will need to be adjusted accordingly.
– Sometimes, there is no relevance between the distance and time of travelling, as it depends upon the condition of the roads and congestion of the traffic.
– While every effort will be made to maintain the itinerary, in view of local strikes etc that are beyond our control all schedule and itineraries are subject to last moment changes.
– Clients must be fully insured, as the company cannot accept liability for loss or damage to client’s property, medical emergencies or any other loss suffered by them whilst on tour.
– In Case of issuing Domestic or International air tickets, SGV is not responsible for any refund if the flight is delayed or cancelled, as it is the responsibility of airline.

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