Skip to Content

San Salvador Volcano Hike (El Boquerón National Park) – The Ultimate Guide

San Salvador Volcano Hike (El Boquerón National Park) – The Ultimate Guide

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.

San Salvador Volcano Hike vs. Santa Ana Volcano

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!

Read more: Santa Ana Volcano Hike In The Cerro Verde National Park

Travel Insurance

Heymondo Travel Insurance

Don’t leave for your trip without booking travel insurance. We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo travel insurance could save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Click the button below to receive a 5% discount!

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.

El Boqueroncito is a small crater seen inside the San Salvador volcano crater in El Boquerón National Park.
El Boqueroncito

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.

Beck stand on a rock, looking out towards San Salvador Volcano and El Boquerón National Park

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.

Dan stands next to the El Boquerón National Park entrance sign a the start of te San Salvador Volcano hike

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.

Dan and Beck admire Mirador 'Los Cartuchos' in El Boquerón National Park
Mirador ‘Los Cartuchos’

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.

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.

Dan hikes on a narrow and dusty trail during the San Salvador Volcano hike

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.

El Boqueroncito, as seen during the San Salvador Volcano Hike in El Salvador

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.

Dan admires the views of the national park and beyond

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.

San Benito

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!

Hotel room

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.

A hotel room

Zona Rosa

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.

Beds in a hotel room

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.

Beds in a hotel room

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, snacks, sunglasses, suncreen and a hat.

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.

Beck sits and watched steam rise from the cater lake at Santa Ana Volcano
Santa Ana Volcano

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!

Bonus Tips

San Salvador volcano hike pinterest

Have you hiked around the crater at El Boqueron National Park? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Matt says:

    Haha I’m just now reading the comments but yeah I just completed the full loop. Indeed there were dogs and risks with the “trail” at some points. I would say I’m slightly above average for adventure hiker so I did have my concerns. Carried a big stick and was on high alert. I did the hike in reverse because I would rather end my hike with being “out of bounds” or hoping/climbing around fences. I came in contact with one dog that kinda stalked me but was not aggressive and zoomed past me. This was on the well marked “easy” trail not part of the unmaintained trail. Maybe I was just lucky but life is what you make it and maybe I’m willing to take the risks. There was cell service on majority of the trail and I actually stopped for 45 mins for a phone call. There are plenty of well marked and “safe” guided hikes in El Salvador so if you’re not a bit crazy or willing to risk then go do those. Enjoy the pupusas too! Those might end up being worse for your health though….but WORTH IT! And for me, just like this hike.

    • Daniel Piggott says:

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience doing the San Salvador Volcano hike.

      Enjoy the rest of your travels in El Salvador.

      Cheers,
      Dan

  2. Abi says:

    Got attacked by two dogs on this trail. They both bit pretty deeply into my legs. Do not recommend this trail.

    • Daniel Piggott says:

      Hi Abi,

      Thank you for letting us know about this horrific incident.

      We have updated the guide to add a disclaimer (in a call out box at the top of the page) to warn people about this danger. In this call out box, we’re also discouraging people from doing the circular walk.

      Kind regards,
      Dan

  3. Tracey says:

    I did the San Salvador volcano hike, following the directions on your blog, and I ALMOST DIED. THIS IS NOT SAFE TO DO WITHOUT A GUIDE. DON’T JUST BLINDLY RECOMMEND IT TO PEOPLE. The part where the trail leaves the crater’s edge and goes into the forest is DANGEROUS. I walked down into that forest and almost could not find my way back to the trail. I got lost and wandered around for FOUR HOURS before I could find my way out. You NEED TO INCLUDE WARNINGS. THIS IS NOT TO BE DONE WITHOUT A GUIDE.

    • Daniel Piggott says:

      Hi Tracey,

      Thank you for your feedback. We always want to ensure that hikers are safe and feel safe when following our guides.

      In the trail description of the guide, under the ‘San Salvador Volcano Crater Trail’ heading, we mention that the trail isn’t straightforward to navigate between 2.5 to 5.5km marks – the part of the trail that meanders through the forest. In most, if not all of our guides, you’ll find a GPS-guided map to help with directions.

      Also, under the section, ‘San Salvador Volcano Hike Saftey’, we’ve recommended hiking with a guide or doing a guided tour to ensure safety. In addition, under the ‘Attacked By Bees and Dogs’ section, we’ve re-iterated hiking with a guide or doing a guided tour to ensure safety. However, we can add in some extra warnings.

      Many thanks, Dan