Not to be confused with the popular Santa Ana Volcano hike in Cerro Verde National Park, the San Salvador Volcano hike in El Boquerón National Park is an outstanding trail. Otherwise known as Volcan de San Salvador and Quezaltepeque Volcano, San Salvador Volcano is easy to reach independently. Most people visiting El Boquerón National Park only go to the main Miradors, which involves a very leisurely stroll. But, we recommend hiking around the entire crater rim for the best experience.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the San Salvador Volcano hike. We’ll talk about how to get to El Boquerón National Park, detail the hike itself and show you some awesome crater photos. Also, we’ll explain why a San Salvador Volcano tour is unnecessary. Plus, because you’ll do this trip from San Salvador, we’ll also tell you about the best hostel and hotels in San Salvador.
UPDATE: in this guide, we make reference to nearly being attacked by a pack of stray dogs in 2022. One of our readers, in 2023, mentioned getting bitten by dogs at a similar stage of the walk where we were nearly attacked. Although many people complete this walk without issue, we believe it’s in your best interest to not complete the circular walk that we did because of this danger. You could simply visit the four main miradors and still enjoy a visit to San Salvador Volcano. Please read the Safety section to be aware of the risks involved with doing the circular walk.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For other fantastic El Salvador volcano hikes, check out our Izalco Volcano, Volcan Tecapa, San Miguel Volcano and San Vicente Volcano guides. Or, read 20 Epic El Salvador Hiking Trails Not To Miss.
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San Salvador Volcano Hike vs. Santa Ana Volcano El Salvador
When it comes to hiking in El Salvador, most tourists, and even locals, won’t do the San Salvador Volcano hike. Most will only do the Santa Ana Volcano hike. Sure, the Santa Ana Volcano has an incredible crater lake. Plus, you’ll have great views of Cerro Verde National Park and Lake Coatepeque. But, there’s more to El Salvador than just hiking Santa Ana Volcano!
There are many other brilliant volcanoes to hike in El Salvador, including the San Salvador Volcano hike. Compared with Santa Ana Volcano, the trail around the crater of El Boquerón National Park is way more exhilarating and thrilling. That’s because the trail is more challenging.
For the genuine hikers out there, you may even enjoy the San Salvador Volcano hike more than the Santa Ana Volcano hike. After all, the San Salvador Volcano is far less of a tourist attraction. So, hiking San Salvador Volcano is much quieter and more serene.
El Boquerón National Park
El Boquerón National Park is home to San Salvador Volcano, where the hike takes place. The national park is 1,700 meters above sea level. It’s positioned on the outskirts of San Salvador, around 23 kilometres from the city. El Boquerón National Park is a slice of paradise for nature lovers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of San Salvador.
Of course, the main attraction at El Boquerón National Park is the gigantic crater of San Salvador Volcano. The crater diameter is a staggering 1.5 kilometres, whilst the crater depth is about 550 meters. Most impressive, there’s a small volcano crater inside the main volcano. That’s right – a volcano crater inside a volcano crater! The mini crater is called El Boqueroncito, which translates to ‘little Boqueron‘ in English.
By doing the San Salvador Volcano hike, you’ll have unbeatable views of the huge crater and the mini crater inside it. The hike involves following a trail that circles the entire crater. So, you’ll have fantastic views of both craters and El Boquerón National Park throughout the hike.
How to Get to San Salvador Volcano Independently
Getting to San Salvador Volcano independently is straightforward. This is one reason why you won’t need to do a San Salvador Volcano tour. Essentially, there’s a quick way and a slow way to reach San Salvador Volcano. The quick way is to jump in a taxi or order an Uber. Whilst, the slow way involves a couple of chicken buses.
The Quick Way
Beck and I were happy to get to El Boquerón National Park the quick way. From our hotel in San Salvador city (San Benito), we ordered an Uber. Basically, request your driver to take you to El Boquerón National Park and they’ll drop you off at the entrance.
Our driver picked us up in just a couple of minutes and the journey time was around 30 minutes. Costs were around $5.50USD. The only catch is, ordering an Uber to take you back to the city. We waited around 40 minutes for a driver to accept our request from the entrance of El Boquerón National Park. The driver then took another 25 minutes to reach us. Whilst you wait, you can always check out the small museum next to the ticket office.
Read below: Best Hotels in San Salvador
The Slow Way
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be going the slow way! This way may also feel a bit more adventurous. But, we were warned by our friends living in San Salvador that the buses can be unsafe. Although, we know many people who have used local buses in the past without trouble. So, it’s your call!
Anyway, from San Salvador city, you’ll need to get the 101B bus heading to Santa Tecla. There are tonnes of bus stations you could use to catch the 101B bus. Check out the 101B bus route stops here. In bad traffic (there’s always bad traffic in San Salvador), the journey can take an hour!
From San Tecla, head to Parque Daniel Hernández to catch the 103B bus heading to El Boquerón National Park. Expect the drive to take around 45 minutes. Unlike an Uber or taxi, the bus can’t get all the way to the national park entrance. But, you’ll be dropped off on the road near to the entrance.
San Salvador Volcano Tour
Just as we think a Santa Ana Volcano Hike tour is unnecessary, a volcano hiking tour at El Boquerón National Park also isn’t required. As mentioned, getting to El Boquerón National Park is super easy. Plus, you don’t require a local guide for the San Salvador Volcano hike. Such is the custom for hiking in national parks in El Salvador, Beck and I asked for a local guide at the ticket office. But, the El Boquerón National Park staff member explained that we didn’t need one!
So, it’s unnecessary to book a volcano tour or any day tours at El Boquerón National Park. We recommend doing a self-made half-day tour yourselves instead of a San Salvador Volcano tour.
San Salvador Volcano Hike to El Boqueroncito
The San Salvador Volcano hike that we’ll cover in this guide only includes the trail around the crater. But, it’s possible to hike down to El Boqueroncito! This hike is quite hardcore and definitely requires a local guide.
To reach El Boqueroncito, there are no defined paths from the rim of the crater. The descent requires the use of ropes through densely forested areas and loose rocks. Going down to El Boqueroncito as part of the San Salvador Volcano hike is the only trail option at El Boquerón National Park that requires a guide.
As far as we’re aware, there aren’t local guides at El Boquerón National Park who will guide you down to El Boqueroncito. Actually, there weren’t any trekking guides when we visited during the week. Although, our friends who live in San Salvador, mentioned that there were local trekking guides at El Boquerón National Park on the weekend. But, they’ll only do the hike around the crater. They don’t go down to El Boqueroncito.
To hike down to El Boqueroncito, you’ll need to hire a trekking guide in advance. Click here to find a local guide, or, consider booking a San Salvador Volcano tour. But, make sure the tour company actually offers the hike around the crater. Some companies only go to the main lookout area. If you’re looking for a well-priced tour company in San Salvador, that offer the entire hike, consider Club de Mochileros. As part of their San Salvador Volcano tour, they’ll organise a guide for you.
San Salvador Volcano Hike Preview
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 6.6km
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 255m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: El Boquerón National Park entrance
- Map: Wikiloc
San Salvador Volcano Hike
Once you arrive at the El Boquerón National Park entrance, you’ll pay a $2USD entrance fee. It’s only $1USD for locals. The national park is open from 8am–5pm. Knowing the hike wouldn’t be busy, Beck and I arrived around 9:30am. At the national park entrance, there are bathrooms, a small museum and a Mirador overlooking the surrounding area.
Following the ‘Sendero Principal Main Path‘, you’ll follow a winding trail through lush vegetation. The dirt path leads to a series of steps, heading towards the main lookout area.
Along the rim of the crater, there are four Miradors in quick succession. In order, you’ll visit Miradors ‘Los Helechos’, ‘Las Begonias’, ‘Las Hortensias’ and ‘Los Cartuchos’. The views from Mirador ‘Los Cartuchos’ offer the most sweeping views of the San Salvador Volcano crater.
Once you’ve reached the final Mirador, and then re-joined the trail, you’ll soon arrive at an intersection. Going left will take you back to the El Boquerón National Park entrance. However, to complete the San Salvador Volcano hike around the crater, you’ll continue straight. This is where Beck and I started our speed hike around the crater.
What’s speed hiking? It’s turning a fun activity into a great workout. Find out more about speed hiking here.
San Salvador Volcano Hike Saftey
After passing a small food stand, you’ll officially exit the lookout area and the part of El Boquerón National Park which has security. Beyond this section, any members of the public can reach the trail by accessing inbound farm trails from surrounding towns. The odd-section is fenced off. But, it’s not completely secure, compared with the official lookout area. This presents a potential safety issue.
Personally, Beck and I didn’t face any safety issues during the San Salvador Volcano hike (from humans that is). We only saw a few friendly farmers along the way. Perhaps, because not many people walk around the crater, bandits and trouble makers won’t bother going to the trail. But, it’s just a theory. To ensure absolute safety, it’s best to go with a local guide or book a San Salvador Volcano tour.
Attacked By Bees and Dogs
Now, you might be thinking, what did I mean by ”from humans that is”. Well, that’s because we had a couple of incidents with animals! First, we came across a swarm of bees. Being allergic, this was a bit of a safety concern for me. But, we managed to get away without being stung. We actually found bees on many trails throughout El Salvador. Beck got stung by a bee during the Laguna de Alegria and Volcan Tecapa hike.
Second, we came across some very aggressive stray dogs near the end of the hike. Basically, there’ll come a point where the crater trail finishes and then you follow a trail by a farm. This is so you can reach another trail taking you back to the main area of El Boquerón National Park. It’s here, where we met some very angry dogs.
Thankfully, a local farmer helped us shoo them away. But, admittedly, it was a bit of a scary experience. Again, hiking in numbers, with a guide or in a San Salvador Volcano tour group might help in this sort of situation.
San Salvador Volcano Crater Trail
From the main lookout area, a narrow dusty trail steers you in a clockwise direction around the crater. You’ll be led to much quieter parts of El Boquerón National Park. In most parts, the plants and trees are quite dry. The undulating trail passes many plots of farms. Surrounded by dense vegetation, the views of the craters are minimal during the early stages. You’ll only have a few gaps in the trees, which offer nice views of the craters and El Boquerón National Park.
Between the 2.5km and 5.5km marks, the trail becomes overgrown and less straightforward to navigate. On many occasions, you’ll briefly steer away from the crater’s edge. This will involve heading into the lush forest. There will be fallen trees to climb over and steep sections to climb. It’s not completely overgrown, but it’s nowhere near as exposed as the first third of the trail.
UPDATE: one of our readers mentioned getting lost in the forest between the 2.5km and 5.5km marks. If you’re not an inexperienced hiker, please hike with a guide or do a guided tour. Otherwise, please use a map. Feel free to use our GPS-guided map.
The Best Views at El Boquerón National Park
At around the halfway point, you’ll arrive at the crater’s edge. Here, are some of the best views of San Salvador Volcano, El Boqueroncito and El Boquerón National Park.
Beyond this point, the trail is slightly less overgrown and remains closer to the crater rim. You’ll continue to have great views of the craters during the second half of the hike. As mentioned before, the trail around the crater eventually stops. You’ll take a left and continue on a trail, passing by farmland. Fingers crossed there are no feisty stray dogs there when you visit.
Eventually, a series of dirt trails lead you to a gravel road. It may be possible to go right and re-connect with a path leading you back to the lookout area. But, admittedly, we were a little shaken up by the stray dogs. So, we were happy to go left to join a trail that quickly assured safety and led us back to the El Boquerón National Park entrance.
San Salvador Volcano Hike Recap
Visiting El Boquerón National Park is a must during your time in San Salvador. By doing the San Salvador Volcano hike, you’ll explore much more of the national park than you would by just visiting the main Miradors. Better yet, the views around the other side of the crater are even more impressive. Also, this hike is quite adventurous and thrilling, much more than the Santa Ana Volcano hike. So, make sure you hike San Salvador Volcano, as well as Santa Ana Volcano!
Continue reading below to find out about the best-valued hotels in San Salvador.
Hotels in San Salvador
When it comes to hostels and hotels in San Salvador, one of the main things to consider is location. Unfortunately, San Salvador has some fairly sketchy areas that you’ll want to avoid. The main area to avoid is Mejicanos. The safest areas in San Salvador are San Benito, neighbouring Zona Rosa and Lomas de San Francisco.
Lomas de San Francisco is more of a residential area. So, tourists are more likely to find a place in San Benito or Zona Rosa. With lots of armed security around, it’s an unusual vibe. But, your safety is guaranteed. The drawback is that these options aren’t cheap. We suppose, choosing a safe place to stay comes at a price!
But, if you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to splash out on one of the expensive hotels in San Salvador. Thankfully, there’s at least one hostel in the area with affordable dorm rooms. Step forward La Zona Hostel. Find out more about this accommodation and other options in the safest areas in San Salvador below.
Hotel Villa Serena San Benito
Beck and I really enjoyed our stay at Hotel Villa Serena San Benito. It’s one of the best-valued mid-range hotels in San Salvador. The rooms are spacious and modern. A/C and breakfast are included in the price. Plus, the Wifi is excellent. Reception is 24/7, which is really useful. It’s also located close to nice restaurants and bars. But, don’t use the laundry service. They charge astronomical rates!
Suites & Apartments San Benito – Zona Rosa
Similarly located, Suites & Apartments San Benito – Zona Rosa offers a slightly greener space. There’s an outdoor pool and garden for your nature escape in the city. Rooms are simple and comfortable. The on-site restaurant is decent. But, there’s always the option to go to the nice restaurants and bars close by. The 24/7 reception desk is also really handy. Plus, the lovely outdoor dining area is just another reason why this place is one of the best hotels in San Salvador.
Hotel Villa Florencia Zona Rosa
Hotel Villa Florencia Zona Rosa is one of the most highly-rated hotels in San Salvador. The rooms are modern and have all the necessary facilities for a fantastic stay. The hotel offers a really nice free breakfast too. Plus, the Wifi gets a good rap.
La Zona Hostel
For the backpackers looking to save coin and still stay in a safe area, La Zona Hostel is your best choice. With cheap dorm rooms in a secure location, you’ll get the best of both worlds. La Zona Hostel also has reasonably priced private rooms. The hostel has shared kitchen facilities and a shared lounge. A 24 reception desk and decent Wifi makes this a great place to stay in San Salvador.
Five Hiking Essentials
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Make sure to also pack 1.5L 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.
San Salvador Volcano Hike FAQs
Below, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about the San Salvador Volcano hike. Read along and you’ll learn about some interesting San Salvador Volcano facts.
Is San Salvador Volcano Active?
Yes. The last eruption was in 1917, which caused large damage to San Salvador. In fact, there used to be a lake inside the crater of the San Salvador Volcano. But, the lake disappeared during the 1917 eruption, leaving behind the mini volcano crater – El Boqueroncito! This is actually one of the most interesting El Salvador volcano facts.
Including San Salvador Volcano, How Many Volcanoes Are In El Salvador?
There are 170 volcanoes in El Salvador. This is way more than neighbouring Guatemala, which has only has 37 volcanoes.
Does El Salvador Have Volcanoes That Are Active?
Yes, there are 23 active volcanoes in El Salvador. In fact, there are six active volcanoes monitored by a division of the Ministry of the Environment in El Salvador. These include San Salvador, Santa Ana, Izalco, San Vicente, San Miguel and Ilopango volcanoes.
Is San Salvador Volcano the Biggest Volcano In El Salvador?
No, Santa Ana Volcano is the highest volcano in El Salvador. It’s 2,381 metres above sea level.
Is San Salvador Volcano, The Only Volcano You Can Climb In El Salvador?
Well, this depends on how you define he word ‘climb’. But, it’s possible to hike many volcanoes in El Salvador. For instance, the Izalco Volcano hike is one of the best El Salvador volcanoes to conquer!
- Have a phone number of a taxi driver: Just in case an Uber driver won’t accept your request to be picked up from El Boquerón National Park.
- Book a San Salvador Volcano tour if you’re worried about safety: For absolute peace of mind, consider booking a San Salvador Volcano tour.
- Consider non-volcano El Salvador hikes: El Salvador has other great hikes that don’t involve trekking up a volcano. El Salvador has great waterfall hikes along the Ruta de Las Flores (The Flowers route) such as the 7 Waterfalls Hike and Hidden Waterfalls hike. There are also great mountains to climb, such as Cerro Eramon, Peñon de Comasagua and El Pital (guides coming soon).
- Make sure you do other hikes in Central America: Check out our Guatemala and Nicaragua guides for other awesome hikes in Central America.
Have you hiked around the crater at El Boqueron National Park? Let us know in the comments below.