skip to Main Content

Conquering Ilamatepec: My Epic Hiking Adventure up El Salvador’s Majestic Volcano

El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, may not be a vacation destination for most tourists. But, it is a favorite place for mission trips. I hope the organizations have good intentions and want to improve lives. My problem with those mission trips is that the aid comes with an exchange of salvation (converting to Christianity).

My interest runs more in-depth than a vacation but to see how the country changed, since the political chaos in the 80’s. First of all, El Salvador has lots to offer for vacations: surfing, hiking, beautiful beaches. Yes, you do find the same things in Belize, Honduras, and Costa Rica.  El Salvador has a much deeper history of Indigenous and European Spanish influences. On top of that, it has charming colonial towns, steaming volcanoes and black-sand beaches.

About El Salvador

The capital city, San Salvador, can be overwhelming and daunting. Because of the overcrowding and the sidewalks full of vendors, it is difficult to avoid knocking a vendor’s pannier of goods. The buildings’ architecture reminds me of the same architecture in Guatemala. It has the identical layout, a plaza, government buildings, churches.

Things to Do in El Salvador

Explore the Joya de Ceren

Nearby the city, Joya de Ceren, a newly discovered archaeological and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gave insights of the daily life of the pre-Colombian Maya farming village, which was excavated from several layers of volcanic ash. The site is in excellent condition and remarkably impressive.

From San Salvador, a two-hour bus ride to Santa Ana, where some of the volcanoes are still active, and also, a very quiet town. Fairly a small town, it is too crowded for its size.

Hike the Volcan Ilamatepec

Close to Santa Ana, the Volcan Ilamatepec, where I spend six hours hiking, my first and longest unexpected hiking trip. Treacherous and exhausting, I am overjoyed when I reach the top of the Volcan Ilamatepec, but fail to notice I have another two to three hours to hike back down, hungry and thirsty. Another great place for hiking is the Volcan Acatenago

From Santa Ana, a two-hour bus ride to Suchitoto, which resembles Granada and Antigua: quaint, colorful, and charming. Lake Suchitlan, fishing and bird watching are the main attractions.

The local bus rides are always longer than expected. It is not only in El Salvador but throughout Central America.  The frequent stops for vendors to get on the bus to sell food and drinks to passengers are the main reason the trip takes that long. To get there faster, take a private car or a taxi.


Hotel Stay in El Salvador

You have plenty of options in El Salvador. The Courtyard San Salvador, in La Gran Via shopping plaza, is my favorite. It is in a great location, and also in a very safe area, with security guards on every corner. Everything you need is there, shops and restaurants.

In Santa Ana,  Casa Verde is centrally located. The ambiance and comraderies in Casa Verde are no comparisons to any other hostels that I have stayed. At night, you can “chill” on the terrace other backpackers.

El Salvador faces challenges, natural disasters, drugs-related violence, same as its neighbors. I always root for  countries that strive to create jobs for their citizens to stop their brain drain.

Surfing in La Libertad, El Salvador is another great way to experience the country’s beautiful beaches.

Let’s support the tourism industry in Central America, especially in El Salvador. Tourism creates thousands of jobs, contributing to the economy. El Salvador is not Costa Rica, Belize, or  Mexico. The hospitality and tenacity of the people are the reasons it is my favorite destination. Go visit these countries because they need the tourism dollars.

Let us know what you think about El Salvador. Post comments below!

Happy Reading,




Click here to view Photo Gallery



Spread the love

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. ohh Im curious about Latin American countries and ı have many friends from there ı hope that one day ıcan see there and Salvador is in my list,,thanks for that amazing photos

  2. I’m pinning this to my travel board! Your picture gallery is awesome as well. Great post…maybe I should put a trip to El Salvador on my bucket list 🙂

  3. Great article. I love the historical info woven in with your own experience! A lot of blogs do not provide the historical perspectives – that makes yours different from the others.

  4. It looks absolutely beautiful!! Never thought of El Salvador as a place to visit. It looks it has a lot to offer. That hike looks amazing too.

    Love always,


  5. It seems that the Europeans have a lot of influence in Central,Latin America and the Caribbean. When you said “The buildings’ architecture reminds me of those in Guatemala. Identical layout: a plaza, government buildings, churches” remind me the 78 plazas that we have here in Puerto Rico. We have government buildings and churches in all of them. And yes, Cristóbal Colón was here. 🙂

  6. What a great perspective of El Salvador. I confess I don’t know much about it, but loved reading your post. I love to learn and today I learned something new. Thank you.

  7. Beautiful pictures! A friend of mine travelled all over Central America years ago and she always said that El Salvador was one of her favourite stops.

  8. This has earned a spot on my list. Great post. I always wanted to go to El Salvador. This post inspires me to book a trip there.

  9. I think it will be a great place to visit one day. It is not a place that I would not generally think of El Salvador for vacation, but this blog makes me want to go there.

  10. Really good information. Nice post. El Salvador seems like a country worth visiting. You hear lots of bad press about it but I think I maybe one day go there one day.

  11. Amazing place, I dont know how these kind of places (as many in my country Venezuela) are not a popular destination for vacation, they are so beautiful!

Leave a Reply

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

Back To Top