Cerro Verde National Park
Cerro Verde National Park

Cerro Verde National Park

The basics

The mountaintop cloud forest and lowland rainforests in Cerro Verde National Park are home to dozens of bird, reptile, insect, and mammal species. Many visitors come to scale one or all of the volcanic peaks, while others enjoy the simple pleasures of birdwatching from the crater lake, Coatepeque. Once you arrive at the park, you’ll need to pay for an official guide (which is required of organized tour groups, as well).

Before your visit, it’s best to do a little advance planning. For instance, you and your guide can hike the volcano and explore the park without issue. Or, you might join a tour with multi-attraction itineraries combining a visit to the park with a Santa Ana city tour and Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site. There are also operators in Santa Ana and San Salvador that provide private or shared shuttles to the park.

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Things to know before you go

  • Even a short trip is memorable, thanks to the mile-long round-trip main trail that takes you to the crater and back.

  • Spend the night on or near the volcanoes with overnight accommodation options within the national park’s boundaries.

  • Find your way to the Finca Maria Auxiliadora on the southernmost end of the park for a great view of Izalco Volcano from the observation deck.

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How to get there

Using public transportation, you can take a bus from San Salvador to either Santa Ana or El Congo, then hop to another bus leading to the park. For speed, you can pay a little more for a private or shared shuttle that will take you to the park from San Salvador in just under 2 hours, or take an organized tour.

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When to get there

Like most outdoor activities in El Salvador, visiting between October and May offers the best weather, though a denser crowd. Weekenders fill the park for laid-back leisure, so visiting during the week is a good way to avoid the crowds. Visiting during the wet season may create a more challenging hike on muddy pathways, but the milder sun exposure reduces risk of sunburn atop the volcano peaks.

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Stop and smell the flowers

If you’d like to explore more of El Salvador’s natural wonders, tour the Routa de las Flores. This 20-mile (32-kilometer) road unites five colorful towns all flanked with seasonal flowers. Each town has a unique feature, such as the murals in Juayua, and tours are available for day-long visits to “the Flower Road.”

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