Volcan Santa Ana | Tourist Attraction

El Salvador


4 months ago
1893.3 masl
Gran Viaje


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Opens at 7:00 (but you can walk up before, the gate is not locked). This is where you meet up with the guides and the police if you don’t stay at the official parking, also you pay the entry fee 6$ per person for foreigners at this location. From here in no dogs allowed!
Toilets and small tiendas.


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We stayed at Crystal the night for 7,5$, beautiful. We wanted to do the tour without a guide. At the main office they didn’t give us entrance tickets because we didn’t want a guide. And they didn’t let us pass the gate. So we followed to the left and after 50m made the way through the jungle (without entrance tickets) sharp uphill and then along a small gully. We relied on gps to find back to the main track. At the first lookout (tower) there were two police officers and a guide taking a group down. The guide asked for our guide and our park tickets. As we didn’t have any he wouldn’t let us through. He insisted on the necessity having a guide on this tour. We discussed (didn’t want to go back) and luckily a group of ex-locals (now living in california) came with a guide. The let us share the guide. They paid 35 USD and we gave the guide extra 10. Then it was all fine. It didn’t seem the police were “the problem” but the guides. Sure, it’s their income. But the walk is not that hard, so we didn’t see the point in having one. We paid the park entry fee back at the office. Sidenote: on the way down there was another police control. Anyway an amazing tour.

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Tried to go to Santa Ana early in the morning at 6:00 am without a guide, because the way is easy and later a mass of people are coming. Unfortunately the gate was locked and a ranger was already in the station. Be quiet.
Bypassed the gate on the left side:
Go about 50m a way to the left of the gate, then go to the right a steep hillside (5m) into the forest. Then follow a small path to the official way (point of entertaining the official way: 13.83776 -89.62653).
Advice: if it's completely dark, you may not find the unofficial path.
No problems with the rangers at the exit. They ask where your guide is... just pay the entrance fee 6$

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3.4 km hike one way 410m at 2831m to the Santa Ana volcano crater rim. At 6:50 a.m. Thursday we stand at the entrance and are not allowed in. We don't have a guide. The boss comes at 7 a.m., another discussion. The weather is so perfect, we don't want to wait an hour. We promised not to walk around on the edge of the crater etc. We were well equipped and then we were finally allowed to go. It was definitely an absolute exception. When we left the Top Viewpoint at 9:30 a.m. the first groups came towards us. The group guides were annoyed with us; for our safety we should never go without a guide. The last kilometer of the tour is very rocky and steep.
(From Casa Cristal: 1.5 hours up, 45 minutes at the top (cold and windy), 1.5 hours back, no dogs, 6US$pp entrance fee, guide requirement 35US$ private tour, 5US$pp group).

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We arrived on a Monday at 6am hoping to be able to do the climb without a guide. Unfortunately there were already 2 rangers, in fact they sleep there. They refused to let us pass without a guide. After 1 hour of waiting there was still no guide, I started to negotiate with all the rangers, one ended up agreeing to let us do the climb, unfortunately his leader caught up with us he was not the same opinion. 2 hours later there was still no guide... Finally the head of the guides arrived with only one tourist and he offered to follow him graciously. On the way back, everyone we met was accompanied by a guide. For information, children under 12 do not pay.

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We arrived at this point (where you pay the park entrance fee) at 6.50am hoping to quietly start the trail without a guide, but we were stopped. Acting annoyed and saying we were in a hurry worked after 10 minutes during which we questioned the need for a guide. The jefe arrived and said that as no guide was available, he would let us go up. It would be good to know if a ‘nicer’ approach works, we don’t enjoy picking at illogical rules and wearing people down! We just didn’t have the budget (or inclination) to pay $35 for a guide or wait 30 minutes for a big group.

On the way up, we came across tourists with a guide, and lots if Salvadorians without. The trick to avoid hassle and walk up independently seems to be to go up before the rangers arrive at this point, probably before 6.30am. If you want to have a guide, it should be possible to join a group from 7.30am although we’re not sure how much detail they will provide other than showing you the well-marked path.
The police appeared on the trail around 9am but did not speak to us.

1h15 up
15 mins at the crater
1h down

We paid the park entrance fee ($6pp) when we came down.

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Tried to use 2marmosets advice below to go without a guide but it didn’t work for us. Arrived at 7:15am and was told we had to wait for a guide and that it would cost $2-3. They said it’s been a law for 3 years, but there is absolutely no info or any sign anywhere at the pay booth/entrance. A guide came at 7:30 with three other people and they had us pay $10 ($5pp) to join, even though I told them we wouldn’t go with the group since we were in a hurry to get up and down because of our dog.

It’s a shame that this hike is yet another beautiful place employing the “guide scam” system. This is one of the easiest hikes I have ever done. Seriously. Hard packed, slow incline and flat areas, and well marked. Absolutely NO need for a guide. They say guides are required now (and only enforced as of two months ago) because someone fell 10m into the crater. If they were worried about that, they could pay someone to patrol the crater. Another money grab.

We met a couple coming down at 7:45am. They clearly went up for sunrise and didn’t have a guide. My guess is that someone isn’t patrolling the entrance really early in the morning. Worth going in the dark if you don’t want to deal with the guide nonsense.

For what it’s worth, the guy we spoke to at the entrance seemed to agree with us about it being unnecessary, and even asked if they could make an exception for us… but his colleagues refused and he genuinely looked sorry. Apparently the Tourism Ministry is cracking down on them to make sure everyone has a guide.

But who knows what the real story is 😂 wither way, it’s beautiful at the top and could be done in under 2 hours easy if you hike a decent amount.

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Went early at 7:15. The evening before, they told us it opens at 7:30. Told us to wait for a guide, we asked why since it is not mentioned anywhere. Couldn’t reply. 7:45 no guide coming, told them our dog (who is not allowed within the protected area) was waiting in the van so we wouldn’t waste our time waiting. Allowed us to get it without a guide. 6$ per person. All alone at the top. Went down around 9am going through dozens of groups with guides giving weird look as we were alone. Cross 2 police officers who asked why we were alone, explained the story and all good.

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After 30min of negotiations at the visitor center, we couldn't enter without a guide. We spoke with government officials, policeman and they won't let us in because apparently it is now mandatory. They told us it was because of accidents that happened it the past... We really didn't want to pay more than the entrance fee as the hike seems really easy and doable without a guide, but there were like 5-6 guys with government badges so we didn't have any choices.

Guide is 35$ (private) and 3-4$ for a group (just wait for people to come there's a lot)

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6 US$ per person, the trail open at 7.30 am. They let me in at 6.30 am because there was a school tour with police.
No guide need

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we checked in at this point. because we have a certain age ( 64 en 62) we do not have to say the entrance fee of $6 pp. and no one ask if we would have a guide...( no we don't). We've heard a guide cost you $ 35 . We did directly go to this point and see the beautifull crater lake for free.

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Someone asked us if we needed a guide, we said no if it’s allowed and they said no problem to go alone.
Lot of people and groups here you can follow them, the trek is easy to do, one way you can’t miss it.

Bob en cavale IG & YT

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We did the hike on our own, without any guide. Arrived arround 10:40, met a couple of people (who turned out to be guides) on the parking lot, who told us it is closed already as the rangers wont allow anyone in after 10:30. They also told us that a guide is mandatory. We told them we heard about people doing it solo just a month ago, they said it is strange because guide is needed and that we could try to come the next day and ask at the booth.
So we went to the booth right away, arrived there at 11:10, guy at the entrance just asked if we have a guide, we said no, he asked for 12USD (2 ppl), told us not to walk too close to the edge, to carry enough water and to enjoy the hike. No struggle.

So maybe the recipe here is to show up between 10:30 and 11, when the guides go home and there is none to hire..? Hard to say, but you can try, worked out for us!

Also, dont go to Casa Crystal parking lot, there you pay for parking and to walk over the old man's land. Better to park your vehicle at the first parking lot at the right, there we did not pay anything and the walk to the booth is just about 400m.

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A private guide is now 35 dollars. The more people join the lower the price. As the 35 dollars is the total price for the guide.

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We followed the recommendations of some locals and took the 7:30 am bus from Santa Ana and got off at el Tibet. There were already a lot of guides waiting. They gave a short introduction to the hike at el Tibet. They charge 3$ pp plus the entry fees at the National park (6$ for foreigners). In total it saves you a little bit of money if you do the hike like that. The whole group was back in time to catch the 1 pm bus back to Santa Ana.
They won’t let you enter without a guide. There was police up the crater when we arrived and police at the entrance of the NP. the locals said it’s super safe to hike. Bonus: at the top of the crater there is a guy who hikes up every day and sells ice cream. So you can treat yourself for finishing the ascend (1,5$ each).

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OK so there's FOUR places the tour can start. Here, Casa Crystal, Cerro Verde and a fourth whose name I didn't recognise. I'm not sure which tours go via El Tibet but it's definitely not this one. The guides will wait starting at 7:30 AM until they have 10 people or a group willing to pay $20 (not including $6 entry fee). guides do not coordinate across locations so if you want to start early on a weekday it may be best to pay. it seems most groups don't start until 9-10. Totally worth it though!

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I paid 3$ to park at El Tibet and walked here. Guides are mandatory to get through the entrance gate, after which they don't seem to care if you walk the remainder on your own.

I entered with 2 others and a guide, within the first 5mins the 2 needed a break, so my guide let me continue by myself without me even asking. Other guides and police I passed for the remainder gave me a smile and a hola without any question why I wasn't with a guide.

At a decent pace without stopping:
1hr to summit
50mins for perimeter of volcano (optional, some scrambling required on the NW corner)
45mins to descend
+time to pay fees and enjoy view

Took me 3hrs in total, 3$ parking, 6$ entrance

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Arrived at 9:45 and joined a group for a 10am start. Paid $3 for parking. Cost of the hike was $6 per person plus tip for your guide (I think $1 is normal). Hike was easy for us but we hike often, there were lots of people and police presence. We felt very safe & had no issues

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Times have changed, tours to the summit of Volcan Santa Ana now run between 7 and 10.30am, no longer at 11am. Guide supposedly required, but we arrived just before 10.30am and were allowed to "catch up" with the other groups. Parked at Casa de Cristal across from the trail entrance for $2.50. Hiking the summit is highly worth it, incredible crater lake and views. Not difficult, takes an hour max.

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Pay booth for Volcan Santa Ana

6usd per forgeiner
3usd per Salvadoreño
Discriminatory as always, especially when considering that forgeiners do tend know how to behave in nature like staying on the trails, use adequate shoes, not littering and not yelling.

This area is good wind protected so maybe you can ask to tent camp here. And if you are allowed to do so please add this campspot on ioverlander.

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This where you meet up with the guides and the police if you don’t start the official parking, also you pay the entry fee at this location. From here in no dogs allowed!
Toilets and small tiendas.

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