Conchagua Volcano, El Salvador

One of the greatest natural attractions of El Salvador is its volcanoes and Conchagua volcano is not the exception.

Conchagua volcano is one of the most visited volcanoes by salvadorans and tourists, and that's because the volcano is right at the east limit of El Salvador, which lets you have an amazing view of the Gulf of Fonseca and its islands from the top. You can enjoy the nature and chill weather at all seasons. You can also see part of Honduras and Nicaragua from the top of the volcano and if you feel adventurous you can take a boat trip to the islands and get to one of these countries as well.

A curious fact of this volcano is that it doesn't have a crater at the top. It used to release the lava from its bottom, directly into the sea. So now, there is wood deck on the top where you can just enjoy the view, have a picnic, install your camping tent if you are staying the night, etc.

How to get there

There's a viewpoint at the top of the volcano known as "Mirador Espiritu de la Montaña", it is located in "La Union" department of El Salvador. There are two options to get here, either you take a tour from San Salvador to Conchagua or you drive to Conchagua and take a tour from there. 

If you are driving part of the way, you need to get to the city of Conchagua, it is a 4 hours drive from San Salvador city (the capital of El Salvador). Whether you drive or take a tour bus from San Salvador, it is better to get to the road very early in the morning, you can take "Panamericana" road.

If you don't feel like driving there are many tour companies that would take you there and bring you back to San Salvador after your trip.

Once at Conchagua city, you can look for the "Golfo de Fonseca Tourism" office, this is one of the tour companies that can take you from San Salvador to La Unión. You can find them in Google Maps as "Dolphins Tour".

If you get to their office, the price is $22.0 per person and $15.0 per kid (3-9 years old) to take you from the office to the top of the Conchagua volcano.  This price includes the ride to "Mirador Espíritu de la Montaña" view point, the entrance fee and a guide. The time of departure from the office is 8:30 AM and you should be back around 2:45 PM to the starting point. Enough time to enjoy the view and have a nice lunch up there.

They do tours every day but of course it is always better to make reservations and make sure they are operating the day you decide to go. You can can contact them through Facebook or Web Site

If you want to go to "Mirador de la Montaña" on your own take in consideration that you will need a 4x4 car, as the terrain has dirt and rocks and you would be going uphill so you need an appropriate car.

You could also find someone to drive you to the main entrance of the volcano and hike to the top. It is a 2 hours hike depending on your pace. However it is not an easy hike, mostly if you are carrying your camping equipment. If you are an expert hiker this would be a very good adventure for you.

The entrance to "Mirador de la Montaña" is about $7.50 per person (remember this is included in the price the tour company mentioned above charges).

Things to do

The view is so pretty it will take a while before you can even take you eyes off it. But, here's a list of things you can do, not only at the top of the volcano but down at the beach and the Gulf of Fonseca:

1) Crossing Gulf of Fonseca in a tourist boat: You can transfer in a tourist boat between El Salvador and Nicaragua. "Golfo de Fonseca Tourism" company can take you to this trip.

2) Camp at Mirador de la Montaña: You can camp at the wood deck that's at the top of the volcano, spending the night there is wonderful, you can even see the milky way late at night and take pictures of the stars. It is totally worht it, there's nothing like watching the sunset and sunrise from the top.

3) Do a day picnic at the "Mirador de la Montaña" viewpoint: if you don't want to stay the night you can just have a picnic lunch at the top of the volcano.

4) Visit "Playitas" beach: this beach is located in Gulf of Fonseca at La Union department, very close to Conchagua Volcano, about 1 hour drive from "Mirador de la Montaña" top and about 24 mins drive from the tour office.

What to bring

What you should bring depends on what you are planning to do but here's a general list of what you should not forget on your trip:

  • Camping tent and sleeping bag if you are camping. 
  • Sweater, it is usually very windy mostly if you are going between October to January so it gets a bit chilly
  • Night lamp if you are staying the lamp, there's not much illumination at Mirador de la Montaña
  • Camera, you can take absolutely stunning photos from the top of the volcano, so it is definitely worth it to bring a DSLR.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Bathing suit and water if you are going to the beach at La Union or doing the boat trip accross the gulf
  • Hiking shoes, If you are hiking the volcano you will need good shoes as the road is full of rocks and snickers are not the best choice.
  • Food, although there's a small shop at the top of the volcano, you will not find a proper meal, so make sure you take enough food with you. 

Conchagua Town

After all your activities you can also hit "Parque de la Familia" park which is very close to the "Golfo de Fonseca Tourism" office. You can see La Union bay from here and  part of the Gulf. This is at the very limit of El Salvador. There's a cafeteria where you can eat something as well or you can just take a walk around the park and enjoy.

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