Los Volcanes National Park is the protected natural area in El Salvador that includes three of the 14 “young” volcanoes (between 2 million and 250 years old, according to geologists) of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range: Santa Ana volcano, Izalco and Cerro Verde, in the departments of Santa Ana and Sonsonate. It is called Los Volcanes Complex for housing the three great giants, each recognized by impressive historical moments of Salvadoran life.
Throughout history, this colossus was called “The Pacific Lighthouse” because it served as a guide at night for the ships that sailed along the Salvadoran coasts. Without stopping, and for almost 196 years, the volcano offered a spectacle of lava cascades and red-hot rocks thrown into the air, which fell in the fields at the foot of the volcano without causing greater danger. This activity came to form a 650-meter cone on the neighboring plain (1,952 meters above sea level), with a crater of 250 meters in diameter.
Cerro Verde Volcano
In El Salvador it is simply known as Cerro Verde, but in reality, it is a volcano that was born about 1.5 million years ago, and had its last eruption about twenty-five thousand years ago. It has an approximate height of 2,030 meters above sea level, and its crater is eroded and covered by misty forest, causing tourists to confuse it with a hill.
Santa Ana or Ilamatepeq Volcano
It is the largest volcano in the complex, and the third highest point in El Salvador. It has an elevation of 2,381 meters above sea level. Its geologic history goes back to about two million years, with irregular eruptions. The Ilamatepec demonstrated its strength in the year 2005, with an eruption that destroyed vegetation, towns and crops. For more than a year and a half the Civil Protection System prohibited tourist visits or other activity in the vicinity of the colossus, because it remained active, and was potentially dangerous to the area.
Entrance fee: $3.50.