El Imposible National Park is one of the most famous places in El Salvador for hiking. From the main El Imposible National Park entrance near El Refugio, you’ll find the most well-known hikes. These include Cerro Leon, Piedra Sellada and Los Enganches. But, we teamed up with the adventurous guys at El Salvatours to discover a new hike in El Imposible National Park. It’s called La Llorona and is one of the most exhilarating hikes in El Salvador.
Until we hiked there, it was an area of the national park that tourists hadn’t explored before. In doing so, we’ve discovered a brand spanking new hiking trail in El Salvador for you to enjoy.
In this guide, we’ll tell you all about this adventurous trekking experience. Coordinated by El Salvatours, who have the monopoly on this hidden area of El Imposible National Park, you’re guaranteed a thrilling hiking tour. But first, we’ll provide some useful information about hiking in El Imposible National Park. We’ll also talk about the La Llorona myth and why this hike is named La Llorona, and, detail some other incredible hiking in El Salvador.
We hope you find this guide useful. For other fantastic El Salvador hikes nearby, check out our guides on Santa Ana Volcano, Izalco Volcano and the Seven Waterfalls Tour. Or, read 20 Epic El Salvador Hiking Trails Not To Miss.
Hiking in El Imposible National Park
Considered the most bio-diverse region in El Salvador, there are beautiful forests and mountains to explore in El Imposible National Park. When it comes to hiking, there are popular trails starting from the main office near El Refugio. Beck and I actually combined the three most popular trails (Cerro Leon, Piedra Sellada and Los Enganches) into one huge extraordinary hiking loop. You can read more about it here. There’s also the approximately 20km El Imposible Pass loop that some guides in El Salvador offer as a hiking tour.
Other than that, there aren’t many other well-known hiking trails in El Imposible National Park in El Salvador. But, there are some hidden gems and secret hiking trails (not so secret now) waiting to be explored in a different area of the national park.
El Salvatours are discovering exciting new hiking trails in the northern part of El Imposible National Park. Instead of exploring around the main entrance from the south, the team at El Salvatours base themselves in and explore the national park from Concepcion de Ataco. It’s a beautiful town north of El Imposible National Park, popular with locals for a weekend away.
Led by the legendary El Salvador tour guide William and local guide Edwin, Beck and I had the pleasure of joining them for an exploration mission of the national park. The aim was to follow, join and link an array of barely defined farmland and forest trails to pave the way for a new hiking trail in El Imposible National Park. The name of this new hiking trail in El Salvador is called La Llorona.
FYI: you can book tours with El Salvatours by contacting them on Whatsapp (+61 448584472 [best contact if you don’t speak Spanish] or +503 60139955), Facebook or Instagram. They also offer a more well-known and truly epic Hidden Waterfall Tour.
La Llorona Myth: The Name Behind the Hike
So, why is this new hiking trail in El Imposible National Park called La Llorona? This is best explained by detailing the La Llorona myth. Loosely translated to the moaning or weeping woman, there’s a Salvadorian tale about a crying ghostly woman, looking for any children who cross her path! Because her love, chose another woman, La Llorona decided to drown the other woman’s children. Once she realised the horror of her terrible mistake, she drowned herself!
But, she couldn’t pass into the afterlife and was sent back to earth to find these children and ask for their forgiveness. Obviously, the children can’t be found on earth anymore. So, La Llorona is stuck between the living and spirit worlds. She now wanders around crying and searching for children. She isn’t afraid to take any child in the hopes of passing them off as her own!
So, what the hell does the La Llorona myth have to do with this hike in El Imposible National Park? Well, from the main Mirador of the La Llorona hike, the outline of the mountains resemble a woman lying down. During the rainy season, you can see water cascading down the rocky cliff faces of these mountains. Ipso facto, it resembles a weeping woman, which is known in El Salvador folklore as, La Llorona!
Now you know a little more about the La Llorona myth, let’s dive into this fresh hiking adventure run by El Salvatours.
La Llorona El Salvatours Trail Preview
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 6km
- Time: 6–7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 355m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Paraiso entre Rios Restaurante and Cabañas
La Llorona Hike With El Salvatours
The La Llorona hike starts from the Paraiso entre Rios Restaurante and Cabañas. From here, there is a large wooden platform, which provides sweeping views across El Imposible National Park, western El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean. Even before the La Llorona hike begins, you’ll be spoilt by this extraordinary lookout.
From the site of the cabañas, you’ll follow a wide dirt road heading towards farmland and forest. You’ll then join a narrower dirt trail, high above the forest, that follows the edge of a cliff. Again, you’ll have a superb vista of the national park, stretching out to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy and soak in these amazing views, because the hike is going to get tougher with limited viewpoints.
The track becomes even narrower as you approach large areas of farmland. Passing coffee and banana trees, you may even see a few local farmers on the trail.
Up until this point, the trail is easily defined, fairly open and exposed. But, you’ll now enter the dense forest, unexplored by many tourists before. The trails become fainter and overgrown. This is where the exploratory part of our hike begins.
Mission Imposible with El Salvatours
Equipped with machetes, our local guide Edwin and El Salvatours guide William help steer the way. With his know-how of the area, Edwin leads from the front. Guido, Remco (our two legendary Dutch mates), Beck and I, follow along as William, observes and masters the trail from the back of the pack. This is the team that will do all the dirty work to make this hiking trail clearer, more defined and ready for action, for when you arrive in El Salvador to hike!
Despite our mission to partially clear paths for easier hiking, most of the trails remain overgrown. It’s true forest trekking! Or, as I like to call it, bush bashing (Aussie term). Wearing hiking trousers is a good idea as you bush bash through this part of El Imposible National Park. Our Dutch mates weren’t so prepared as they emerged from each section with more and more scratches on their legs. What an adventure! Anyway, after negotiating some steep and narrow trails, you’ll arrive at an exposed flat area. It’s time for lunch.
With your energy renewed, you’ll re-enter the dense forest. There are a few trails that seem fairly defined and obvious to follow. But, at times, there isn’t much in the way of trails. When we visited, we had no choice but to move tree branches and plants, out of our way, in order to proceed. At one point, William called us over to check out a plant. With a machete, he sliced through the narrow and long green cylindrical stem. He began peeling layers off the plant, which looked like white stringy cheese. We all tried some and agreed it tasted like cucumber!
La Llorona Mirador
After more effort and struggle to continue through the dense forest, we arrived at the edge of a cliff. The area was wildly overgrown. But, Edwin and William got to work with their machetes to create a new Mirador.
Once their work was complete, we gazed out onto the breathtaking cliff walls and forest at El Imposible National Park. In the distance, you’ll be able to see Cerro Leon, which is another hike we would later conquer whilst in El Salvador. On a clear day, you can also catch a glimpse of the ocean.
Rappelling With El Salvatours
With a new lookout area created, we briefly retraced our steps. You’ll then head in a new direction, following a different trail. After conquering a narrow and challenging path, you’ll arrive at a small cascading river. This is the next major highlight along the La Llorona hike in El Salvador. After following downstream, you’ll arrive at a small hidden waterfall, buried in the dense forest of El Imposible National Park.
After rappelling down the waterfall, William and Beck explored around the base of the falls and the surrounding gorge. They weren’t able to continue much further into the gorge. But, we all agreed that rappelling down the unknown waterfall was an exciting addition to the La Llorona hike.
After departing the river, you’ll then arrive at another viewpoint. Balancing on a fallen tree, it’s possible to near closer to the cliff’s edge for even better views of the forest.
You’ll then rejoin increasingly defined trails as you transition from forest to farmland. On the way, William will show you other plants and trees, explaining their medicinal value.
If you’re lucky, there’ll be berries and mandarins to pick and snack on.
During the final stages of the hike, the trails become more defined and exposed again. This allows you to see more glorious views of the national park. Because these views are mostly hidden during the La Llorona hike, it makes these scenes all the more enjoyable. The clearer trail also makes it easier for a bit of speed hiking, if you aren’t already warn out from trekking in the forest!
WHAT’S SPEED HIKING? It’s hiking with the intent of going faster to get a good workout. Find out more about speed hiking here.
La Llorona Hike El Salvatours Recap
El Imposible National Park is a fantastic hiking destination with vastly different experiences up for grabs. There are the traditional hiking trails accessed from the southern part of the park. These are definitely worth doing. But, for an even wilder and more adventurous experience, we highly recommend exploring the less explored part of the park accessed from the north. Having the monopoly on this area of El Imposible National Park, El Salvatours are the guys to join in El Salvador to explore La Llorona and other hikes in the area.
Other El Imposible National Park Tours
You’ll find other tour companies from Santa Ana and San Salvador, that make the big trip to El Imposible National Park. If you want a quick visit to the national park and are based in these major cities, it’s not a bad shout. After all, it’s better than not exploring El Imposible at all.
But, from both Santa Ana and San Salvador, you have a 2–3 hour drive each way, meaning you have limited time to explore the national park. So, forget about doing any major hiking. You’ll just be visiting some Miradors and have limited time swimming at some natural pools. In our opinion, these Santa Ana and San Salvador tours to El Imposible National Park seriously pale in comparison to what El Salvatours offer.
Hiking in El Salvador
El Imposible is home to some of the best hiking in El Salvador. Alongside Montecristo National Park and El Pital, El Imposible has spectacular forest and mountain trails. But, if you’re keen on volcano hikes, check out our guides on Santa Ana, Izalco, Conchagua, San Miguel and San Vicente volcanoes.
For waterfall trails, check out our guides on the Seven Waterfalls and Tamanique Falls hikes. If you’re after shorter hikes with spectacular viewpoints, check out our guides about hiking at Peñón de Comasagua and Cerro Eramon.
How to Get to Ataco
To get to Ataco, you can get a chicken bus directly from Ahuachapan or Sonsonote.
- Ahuachapan: take the #248 heading to Sonsonate from the main intersection where the Ruta de las Flores heads south out of town. Make sure to tell the driver you’re heading to Ataco. The journey takes around half an hour and shouldn’t cost more than $1USD. Timetables are difficult to find, but the route is fairly regular in the morning.
- Sonsonote: if you’re coming from Sonsonate, you’re essentially doing the trip in reverse. Take the #248 bus heading to Ahuachapan from the main bus station. It’s called Terminal de Buses de Sonsonate. Tell the driver you’re departing at Ataco. The journey time is around half an hour and shouldn’t cost more than $1USD. Again, it’s tricky to find a timetable, but there should be a few buses heading from Sonsonote to Ahuachapan in the morning.
After hiking Santa Ana Volcano, Izalco Volcano and doing the Seven Waterfalls Tour from Santa Ana, we got the #210 bus from Santa Ana to Ahuachapan. The trip was around $0.50USD and took around an hour. You’ll be dropped off at the main intersection where the Ruta de las Flores heads south. From there, cross the road and you should find a row of other buses heading towards Sonsonate. Drivers are calling out Sonsonate and Ataco, so it’s hard to miss. If you’re unsure, use maps.me for locations.
Five Hiking Essentials for the La Llorona Hike
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots are very comfortable and a great choice for hiking La Llorona
This camera is lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for hiking. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos
A waterproof jacket is a must during the rainy season in El Salvador
This is an awesome backpack for day hikes. It has plenty of space, so you can pack whatever you need
The La Llorona hike is a trekking adventure through dense forest. So, you'll want some trousers to cover your legs from getting scratched or attacked by ticks. These hiking trousers are breathable and lightweight – perfect for hot weather
Make sure to also pack 2L of water, snacks, sunglasses, suncreen and a hat.
For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Don’t skip El Salvador: many backpackers don’t travel to El Salvador during their Central America trip. Make sure to explore El Salvador and all its amazing hikes #dontskipelsalvador
- Best time of year to hike La Llorona in El Salvador: It’s best to hike this trail with El Salvatours during the dry season (November to May).
- Explore other areas of El Imposible National Park: Find out more about other hikes in El Imposible with El Imposible National Park Loop and El Salvatours Hidden Waterfall Tour.
Are you ready for a trekking adventure in El Salvador? Share this blog post with your trekking buddies.
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