Izalco volcano, a beauty of El Salvador

volcano el salvador

One of the most recently formed volcanoes in El Salvador, and one of the newest on the entire American continent, is Izalco Volcano. It is believed to have emerged in 1770, according to the prevailing narrative, when smoke and ash began to rise from a crack at the base of the Santa Ana volcano. This volcano is very famous and has quite an interesting history.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the Izalco volcano, its history, its characteristics, formation and much more.

History of the Izalco volcano

volcano route

According to historian Jorge Lardé y Larín, the origin of this volcano dates back to March 19, 1722, when a new crater emerged that spewed fire, lava and ash. This volcanic activity escalated until it became a major eruption in 1745, as indicated by the Volcanic Explosivity Index, which places this volcano at level 1 out of 8.

For several years, starting in 1966, The volcano presented a continuous eruption, so intense that its fiery display could be witnessed all the way to the ocean., which earned it the nickname of Lighthouse of the Pacific. The vigorous activity of the volcano resulted in the formation of a 650-meter cone that rises above the adjacent plain, reaching a height of 1.952 meters. This cone housed a crater 250 meters in diameter. The volcano's most recent regular eruption took place in 1958, but in 1966 it reawakened from its dormant state with a minor lateral eruption. Since then, a gradual decrease in both the activity and the temperature of its fumaroles has been observed.

In 1596, the Aragonese captain Lupercio de Espés, direct ancestor of Manuel José Arce, made the initial ascent of the volcano. Since then, the volcano has remained active.

Due to its extensive volcanic history, the volcano, along with five other volcanoes of the 170 found in El Salvador, It is constantly monitored for any signs of activity.

Over nearly two centuries, specifically from 1770 to 1956, researchers have meticulously documented approximately 51 cases of volcanic eruptions.


the volcano of izalco

Located within the Los Volcanes Complex, the volcano is located in the Apaneca Conservation Area and Biosphere Reserve, a designation granted to it by UNESCO in September 2007. This complex, in turn, It extends through the municipalities of Izalco and Nahuizalco within the Department of Sonsonate. .

The distinctive feature of the complex is related to the hydrogeological interconnection of three volcanoes: Izalco, Cerro Verde and Ilamatepec, also known as Volcán Santa Ana. It encompasses San José Miramar, San Blas or Las Brumas, Ojo de Agua del Venado, Los Andes, El Paradise, Izalco Volcano, La Auxiliadora and Cerro Verde.

A proclamation has been officially proclaimed for San Blas, Volcán Izalco, San José Miramar and their respective lava fields. The established Management Plan, in force since 2006, must be complied with. This notable region has impressive landscapes, active volcanoes and a wide range of ecosystems. It is also classified as part of the Central American Montane Forests ecoregion. The area has the potential to host small-scale tourism or even attract large numbers of visitors. Additionally, there are specific locations within the region that can facilitate infiltration and replenishment of aquifers, with forests in the early stages of development after volcanic activity.

Biodiversity of the Izalco volcano

Izalco volcano

The ecosystems of the Altimontano Tropical Evergreen Broadleaf Forest, the Altimontano Páramo and the lava flow feature a diverse range of flora, with more than 125 documented tree species. Within these ecosystems you can find notable species such as waxwood, pine, sapuyulo and various plants that thrive in lava environments, including lichens, lycopodia, grasses and agaves. Orchids and bromeliads, commonly known as gallitos, also adorn these landscapes.

The paramo, in particular, is home to a unique group of species that have wide, flattened or soft leaves, which serve as an adaptation to the sulfurous gases and strong winds that prevail in the vicinity of the volcano. Additionally, there are approximately 134 hectares of cypress plantations that were introduced by previous owners.

Within this region, several mammals live, including coyotes, spiny foxes, deer and ocelots. In addition, numerous species of birds can be found here., such as the short-tailed hawk, the mountain falcon and the black eagle. In particular, this is one of the rare natural environments where extensive research has been conducted on tracking birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.


The average climate in this region is characterized by cool temperatures, generally ranging between 16°C and 20°C. However, it is important to note that the climate can quickly transition to a warmer environment depending on the amount of sunlight received. During the early morning or late afternoon, especially when there are clouds, the temperature tends to decrease along with the wind.

On a normal day, you can expect pleasant weather with temperatures ranging between 26°C and 30°C. It is worth mentioning that between the months of May and October there is heavy rainfall, so it is advisable to plan camping excursions during the remaining months. Early in the morning, temperatures can drop as low as 7°C, and occasional fog can cause rapid and noticeable temperature changes throughout the day.


Nature enthusiasts and those who appreciate stunning landscapes will find the park to be a gateway to the summits of all three volcanoes, providing ample opportunities for outdoor hiking. Tourists have the opportunity to access Los Volcanes National Park through three designated entrances.

The Cerro Verde Sector, which can be conveniently reached via a paved road known as Camino a Cerro Verde, offers a range of amenities for tourists. Managed by the Salvadoran Institute of Tourism, this sector has a tourist center, trails, an orchid garden, viewpoints, cafeteria and local guides.

The San Blas Sector, located 11 kilometers after the Cerro Verde detour, is accessed through a 200-meter-long earth and stone bypass. Within this sector, visitors will find a park ranger station, a cafe, as well as two types of accommodation: backpacker-style cabins and more comfortable igloo-style cabins. From this point, several trails lead to the summits of the three volcanoes.

The Los Andes Sector, located 6,5 kilometers down a rugged dirt road (4×4 vehicle required), is located along the Highway to Cerro Verde. This sector offers the highest level of privacy, complete with a ranger station, visitor center, training and event facilities. In addition, it has a well-equipped biological station, designated areas for camping and lunch, an orchidarium, a dining room, an ecological lodge designed in the "deckcamping" style, and a trail that leads to the Santa Ana crater.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Izalco volcano and its characteristics.

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