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Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa: The Ultimate Hiking Guide

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa: The Ultimate Hiking Guide

Laguna de Alegria is an otherwordly emerald-coloured lagoon in El Salvador. It’s best viewed from hiking up the crater of Volcan Tecapa (Tecapa Volcano). Otherwise known as Laguna de la Alegria, Laguna Alegria, Alegria Laguna, or Alegria Lagoon, hiking at this beautiful natural site is one of the best things to do in El Salvador.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiking Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa. First, we’ll discuss the hike itself. Then, we’ll talk about all the other details, such as how to get there and where to stay, including the best Alegria El Salvador hotels.

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa Trail Preview

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4.4km
  • Time: 3–4 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 370m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Laguna de Alegria Entrance
  • Map: Wikiloc

Check out our 7 Waterfalls Tour, Conchgua Volcano and Cerro Eramon guides

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa Hike

You’ll have extraordinary views of Laguna de Alegria straight away. That’s because you start the hike right by its shores. The lagoon is relatively small. But, this doesn’t detract from its beauty. When the sun shines, the vivid emerald colour of the crater lake really comes to life. The only other crater lake in El Salvador that compares, would be the one at Santa Ana Volcano.

Unlike many hikes in El Salvador, hiking Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa doesn’t require a guide. Similar to San Salvador Volcano, you’re free to visit and hike independently.

But, if you want a local guide to ensure safety, it’s possible to organise one. You can head to the tourism office in Alegria, which is just opposite the church. From there, you can hire a local guide for $6USD. Or, if you visit with a tour company, a staff member will usually hike with you and your group.

Dan explores the shores of Laguna de Alegria

Hiking Volcan Tecapa

From the Laguna de Alegria entrance, you’ll follow a wide and uneven road. Keep an eye out for a narrow side-trail to your right. You’ll take this trail to begin hiking up the rim of the Volcan Tecapa crater.

Surrounded by dry forest, the trail quickly steepens and winds its way up the volcano. Early on, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of mountain ranges and volcanoes.

After trekking a lot in Guatemala, we were used to seeing many volcanoes during our hikes. But, compared with Guatemala, there are even more volcanoes in El Salvador. No wonder they call El Salvador, ‘the land of volcanoes’!

Laguna de Alegria, El Salvador

As well as great volcano views, you’ll quickly have improved views of Laguna de Alegria. We expected the best views of Laguna de Alegria to be later on in the hike. Perhaps, once we had reached the highest point (1,595 meters above sea level). But, the peak of Volcan Tecapa is quite far away from Laguna de Alegria. So, early on in the hike, you’ll actually have the best vantage point to enjoy Laguna de Alegria.

Dan looks towards Laguna de Alegria during the hike up Volcan Tecapa

With gaps in the trees, there are a few glorious viewpoints. It’s time to get the camera out and start thinking about your Instagram post description. Being above and not too far from Laguna de Alegria, the views are mindboggling. Fingers crossed that the sun shines brightly for an even more impressive lagoon.

Beck stands and enjoys Laguna de Alegria

Mirador Laguna de Alegria

After these superb early views, it’s time to head to Mirador Laguna de Alegria. As you advance further along Volcan Tecapa, the trail becomes steeper, rockier and more overgrown.

We were surprised how far the trail steers you away from the lagoon. It means, by the time you get to Mirador Laguna de Alegria, the lagoon is quite far away. But, the viewpoint provides a different perspective of the gorgeous lagoon.

Dan and Beck at Mirador Laguna de Alegria, near the peak of Volcan Tecapa

This is a great spot for lunch. But, there are plenty of bees around. Unluckily, Beck got stung! I’m actually allergic to bees. So, we agreed, it was better she got stung, than I!

After you’ve cooled down from the sweaty hike up Volcan Tecapa, it’s time for the return journey. Beck and I assumed we’d hike around the entire crater. This is what we had done for San Salvador Volcano and Izalco Volcano. But, the path continuing clockwise around the crater is blocked. So, you’ll simply retrace your steps, down the same side of Volcan Tecapa, to finish the hike.

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa Recap

The hike up Volcan Tecapa reveals astonishing views of Laguna de Alegria. Best of all, the trail up Volcan Tecapa is short and reasonably easy. So, you won’t have to bust your lungs for the epic views of the lagoon. Similar to the Santa Ana Volcano crater lake, the emerald-coloured waters of Laguna de Alegria are mindblowing. There’s no surprise Laguna de Alegria is nicknamed the ‘Emerald of Central America’. We highly recommend visiting Alegria in El Salvador to experience this fantastic hike.

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How to Get To Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa Independently

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa are located 26 kilometres away from the town of Usulután. But, they’re actually only 2 kilometres away from the municipality of Alegria. The journey to Alegria can be a long one with quite a few buses to navigate.

If you’re starting in San Salvador, jump on a bus heading towards San Miguel. But, make sure you get off at El Triunfo. From there, you’ll need to get a bus heading towards Santiago de Maria, which usually continues to Usulatán. Although, some of these buses don’t go all the way to Usulatán. If that’s the case, alight at Santiago de Maria and get on another bus to Usulatán.

Once you’re on your way to Usulatán, tell the driver you’re heading to Alegria. They’ll drop you off in Usulatán, at the place where you’ll get the bus to Alegria. From the town of Alegria, it’s around a 2.5km walk to get to the entrance of Laguna de Alegria.

Getting to Laguna de Alegria independently with buses will be cheap. But, it’ll be very time-consuming. Timings of the buses are hard to come by. So, it can be hard to coordinate and organise if you have limited time in El Salvador. By far, a more convenient option is to visit Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa with a tour company. That means you can visit from a city like San Salvador and drive there directly.

Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa Tour

To make life easier, Beck and I decided to visit Laguna de Alegria with a tour company from San Salvador city. You’ll find most tour companies offer this sort of tour for around $100USD per person. Thankfully, the Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa tour offered by Club de Mochileros is much better priced.

The Club de Mochileros crew with Dan at the Alegria town Mirador in El Salvador

At $90USD per group, the tour isn’t so expensive if you travel with some buddies. For example, split the costs between a group of five, and you’re looking at $18USD per person. The entrance fee is only $1USD and you don’t need to pay for a guide. For roundtrip transportation that includes accommodation pickup and dropoff, the tour is well-valued when done with a group.

Departing San Salvador at 7am, the journey time to Alegria is around 3 hours. Before going to Laguna de Alegria, you’ll stop off at a nice Mirador in town. There’s a really colourful set of steps underneath the lookout, that’s worth checking out.

Beck walks up a colourful set of steps, labelled 'Alegria' in El Salvador

You’ll then head to the lagoon to do the hike. They’ll pull up right next to the lagoon in the company van. So, you can start exploring straight away. And, once you’ve finished the hike, you can hang out and relax at the lagoon as long as you please.

Our legendary driver, Churro, and tour guide, Marcela, were super chill on the day. They were happy to head back to San Salvador, basically when we said “vamos”! For more information about Club de Mochileros, check out their Facebook and Instagram.

Alegria, El Salvador

Set among gorgeous mountains, Alegria in El Salvador is most famous for Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa. But, it’s also known for its excellent coffee. Alegria is a major player in the El Salvador coffee game. Located 1,200 metres above sea level, Salvadorians actually don’t mind a trip to Alegria for some slightly cooler weather.

Alegria El Salvador Hotels

You won’t find much in the way options when it comes to hotels in Alegria, El Salvador. Being a small town, there are just a couple of accommodation options.

Hotel Tekapa

Hotel Tekapa is a fantastic place to stay in Alegria in El Salvador. The rooms are spacious and stylish. They actually include a lovely patio. On-site, there is a restaurant and bar. We hear the breakfast provided is really top-notch. The facilities are modern and the staff are very friendly and helpful. We hear the Wifi is also fairly decent.

Entre Piedras

The most well-known hotel in Alegria in El Salvador is Entre Piedras. The owner, Roberto, is warm, kind and very accommodating. If you’re lucky, he may even invite you onto the family-owned coffee farm. Here, you’ll have a relaxing and quiet stay. The restaurant on-site is also highly rated.

Hiking Essentials

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Make sure to also pack 1.5L of water, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.

Bonus Tips

  • Visit from San Salvador: if you don’t mind spending a bit extra, a tour will save a load of time getting you to and from Laguna de Alegria.
  • Head there during the dry season (November to April): Laguna de Alegria looks particularly spectacular in the sun. Try to avoid visiting on a rainy day.
  • Don’t skip El Salvador: If you’re travelling around Central America, make sure to spend a good amount of time in El Salvador.
Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa pinterest

Have a look at 20 Epic El Salvador Hiking Trails Not To Miss.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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  1. […] View across the crater and Laguna de Alegria toward Loma San Juan.  Image courtesy D Piggott, Mar 2022 via Travel Made Me Do It blog […]