A Nature Trip to Parque Cerro Verde
Parque Cerro Verde is a hidden gem located outside San Salvador, El Salvador. Nestled in the mountains, this national park offers breathtaking views, rich flora and fauna, and a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
The park can be accessed via a winding road that takes you up into the mountains. As you climb higher, the city below starts to disappear, and you are surrounded by lush greenery. The drive itself is an adventure, with steep inclines and hairpin turns that test even the bravest of drivers.
How to reach Parque Cerro Verde
As far as I know (according to my tour guide), there is no public transport that goes up to Cerro Verde. You can either rent a car and drive up there or join a tour. I chose the latter because it’s the most practical. I did a combo-day tour that also brought us to Mayan Sites and volcanoes. There were only two of us (+ the driver) in the car, so we stopped in places where we wanted to.
Related Post: Hiking Sta Ana in San Salvador
Why you should visit it
The 500-hectare Cerro Verde volcano is inactive and is situated at an elevation of 2035 meters. The cloud forest surrounding the crater has an average temperature of 12 to 18 degrees Celsius. The Santa Ana Volcano, also known as “Ilamatepec Volcano,” is the largest in the region. The stunning natural scenery in this National Park will definitely make you closer to nature.
What to do/see there
Hike Cerro Verde. One of the main attractions at Cerro Verde is the volcano of the same name. Standing at 2,130 meters (6,988 feet) tall, this volcano offers visitors the opportunity to hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The hike is moderate in difficulty and takes about 3-4 hours round trip. It’s important to note that the volcano is still active, so hikers should check with park rangers for any safety restrictions or closures before starting the trek. We didn’t hike there because it’s not part of the tour. However, we took many photos from various lookouts to drink in the spectacular views of the lush forest below and beyond. If you want to hike, you can book a hiking tour here.
Walk around the woodlands. You will be surrounded by the wilderness or “dwarf forest” at this location, which is also home to enormous agaves, low-lying plants, and grazing. The hiking trail was closed when we got there, but if you go with a tour guide, you can access it.
Go bird-watching. Another popular activity at Cerro Verde is bird watching. The park is home to over 200 species of birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal and the Black Guan. Visitors can take guided tours with local experts to spot these and other feathered friends.
Explore the waterfalls and hot springs.
For those looking for a more relaxed experience, there are several beautiful waterfalls and hot springs to explore in the national park. I would have done this if I had more time in San Salvador. At Salto de Malacatiupan, visitors can take a leisurely hike to the waterfall’s base and enjoy a refreshing swim in the pools below.
Go camping and horseback riding. Yes, you can go camping here, too! Horseback riding tours are also available for those who want to experience the park’s natural beauty differently.
On our way back to San Salvador, we stopped at an unofficial lookout viewpoint along the road to admire the breathtaking panoramic views of the volcanic lake “Coatepeque,” ranked among the most stunning in the world. We also stopped by a coffee plantation which, according to our tour guide, is the best coffee in the world!
To sum up, Cerro Verde is an excellent destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience the natural beauty of El Salvador. With its diverse range of activities and stunning views, it’s a place that visitors to enjoy closer to nature.