The Santa Ana volcano is an active stratovolcano located in Santa Ana, El Salvador. The volcano is one of the most active in Central America and one of El Salvador’s most famous landmarks. The Santa Ana volcano has erupted at least 18 times since 1520, and it has been in an intermittent state of activity since then. The Santa Ana Volcano lies in the Central America Ring of Fire and is located in the south east of El Salvador, about 36km away from the Pacific coast of the country. It is a part of the Apaneca – Ilamatepec Mountain Range and is the most active volcanoes in the world. As an active volcano, it poses a threat to the city of Santa Ana and surrounding areas.

Santa Ana Volcano Hike
Suphur lagoon at Santa Ana volcano

1. What is the history of the Santa Ana Volcano?

The Santa Ana volcano is the highest point of the mountain range Apaneca-Lamatepec with 2,365 meters above sea level. Belongs to the class of composite volcano as it contains four craters identifiable, superimposed on the initial crater with a average depth of 300 meters. At the bottom of its crater you can see a green lagoon of sulphurous waters, which permanently emanate gases. The Santa Ana volcano was very active during the XVI century, before 1524, until after 1576; subsequently erupted in the following years: 1621, 1874, 1904, 1920 and 1937; the latter synchronously with those of Izalco.

The last eruption of the Santa Ana volcano was reported on 01 October 2005.

The Santa Ana volcano is cited in various publications since pre-Columbian times, knowing that the volcano before it was called Volcán de Sonsonate, Great volcano. In its “Chronicle of the Holy Name of Jesus of Guatemala”, the chronicler Fray Francisco Vásquez in 1714 mentions a series of volcanoes within which is the Sonsonate, current Santa Ana volcano. Currently the Santa Ana volcano is cited under the toponym of Ilamatepec Volcano, whose authenticity is has questioned on several occasions

The top of the Santa Ana volcano lost its cone shape approximately 57,000 years ago due to a huge eruption Eruption. Summit collapse during the late Pleistocene produced a massive debris avalanche that reached the Pacific Ocean, forming the Acajutla Peninsula. Subsequent eruptions largely rebuilt the building.

2. How to get to Santa Ana Volcano?

By Bus:

You need to go to Cerro Verde, there is only one bus route that goes here. The bus route is 248, this route begins its journey in the city of Santa Ana, located in the west of the country. Exactly at 11 Calle Pte. and Fray Felipe de Jesus Moraga Ave. Here is the bus station La Vencedora, or you can search on Google Maps: Sala de Espera y Abordaje “LA VENCEDORA”

You can buy the ticket at the station for $0.90 USD. The bus that goes to Cerro Verde leaves at 07:30 am. The journey takes approximately 2 hours from Santa Ana to the area of ​​Cerro Verde. Tell the driver that you want to get off at the El Tibet bus stop, where the hikes start every day.

Private Transportation:

Is it very difficult to get there by bus? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Feel free to contact us and we can gladly provide you with a transportation quote.

We also have tours available so you can visit the Santa Ana volcano completely stress-free, departing from San Salvadoy and from El Tunco beach, you can see our tour to the Santa Ana volcano in the following link:

3. How difficult is the santa ana volcano to hike?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. The Santa Ana or Ilamatepec volcano has a hike of medium difficulty. since you do not need special equipment, 65% of the walk is on a path without such steep slopes. The last 35% of the walk is the most demanding of the walk as it is the rocky part, in this section proper footwear will be ideal to make your walk less complicated. You don’t necessarily have to wear hiking boots, even sneakers will work just fine, just make sure they have a thick sole and are in good condition. You don’t want to find your shoes damaged mid-hike.

The Santa Ana volcano hike has an average duration of 3 or 4 hours round trip. It can be more or less time depending on your physical condition.

Views during the Santa Ana volcano hike

What will help make your hike easier? Of course, a good physical condition will help you make the trek to the top of this volcano much more pleasant. Remember that you are in a volcano and the path is up, so there will always be some difficulty involved. Even so, you can be sure that if you set your mind to completing the walk, you can be sure that you will be able to do it.

Start as early as possible. The heat of the sun is an important factor, try to start the ascent to the Santa Ana volcano around 8:00 am, this will help you have a cool climate during your walk, the cool breezes from the volcano in the morning are a complete blessing.

If you have a certain problem in the knees or you are not used to this type of mountain activities, let your assigned guide know, a walking stick will be very helpful (At the beginning of the trail you can rent homemade walking sticks from the locals for $0.50 USD) . Remember that it is not a competition, you can take your time, that is another reason why starting as early as possible is a very good idea.

Take into consideration:

4. How can I stay safe during the Santa Ana volcano hike?

Your safety comes first. Make sure you have an experienced tour guide during the hike. In some blogs you will read that the guide is not necessary, but despite the fact that the path is marked in most of the way, in the upper area there are some shortcuts that are not recommended to use. The ground is unstable and you could have an accident.

Half way to the top, with some of the best views.

Always use the trail. This is one of the simplest but super important indications. This is a national park and you can find wildlife so using the trails is lake you always have to be aware of.

Your hydration and energy is important, do not forget to bring at least 1 liter of water per person and enough snacks to maintain your optimal energy level. Energy bars, peanuts, protein bars are some of the best. Do not forget to take the garbage you generate with you. Other attractions of the volcano are the delicious frozen fruit popsicles that you can buy from local vendors at the top of the volcano, ideal for recovering energy, but you cannot trust them, because sometimes they do not arrive or do not climb to the top.

5. What is the best season to hike the Santa Ana volcano?

In el salvador we only have 2 seasons, 6 dry months (November to April) and 6 rainy months (May to October) and both can be appropriate or have some kind of inconvenience to visit the Santa Ana volcano. The high places in El Salvador tend to be one of the most difficult to be exact regarding the weather, but we will explain the best way to get the most out of your visit to the Santa Ana volcano.

During the rainy season it usually rains at night and very hard, ironically the heavier the rain at night, the clearer and more visible the weather will be the next day. So this is a good sign, you will be surprised when you see the bright sun and cloudless sky after a heavy storm last night.

On the other hand, if you are in El Salvador during the rainy season (May to October) and the only day you have available to do the walk there are chances of rain, these are usually after noon in most cases and are from short duration, this is yet another reason to start that starting the trek as early as possible is a good idea. Do not stay without visiting it.

for some reason when you reach the top you find a dense layer of fog during the rainy season, do not be disappointed or desperate to leave, we invite you to wait for a few minutes since the same wind will take care of moving it . On some occasions we have been about to leave after waiting for several minutes but suddenly the fog disappears, most of the waits are short, sometimes we have waited about 30 minutes and finally we have visibility

During the dry season (November to April) is one of the best times to visit the Santa Ana volcano. You will have days with very good visibility with almost nonexistent chances of rain.

We share below the live weather conditions for the Santa Ana volcano

6. Enjoy!

Focus on enjoying. Of course, one of the main reasons you are there is to be able to see with your eyes the beautiful sulfur lagoon in the crater. But don’t forget to enjoy the details. The beautiful views that you will have on your ascent, you will have up close some of the most vulnerable ecosystems worldwide. If you are lucky and remain silent you can enjoy the fauna of the place. Enjoy every moment of your walk and you will have a memorable experience.

Santa ana volcano Tour
Santa Ana Volcano crater