Similar to most of our experiences in El Salvador, our excursion to Cerro Verde came unexpectedly. The initial plan entailed grabbing a meal at Los Volcanes Bistro Café and see where the remainder of the day took us.
Upon entry, a parking fee was required. Until we recognized where we were, I had a difficult time discerning why this charge was mandatory. Fast forward to departing the restaurant, we realized we passed the parking area and opted to park closer to the café. We then entered the parking lot, and it clicked. Assuming that we simply did not understand, I suppose the per person payment was an admission charge to the national park rather than a parking fee for the vehicle. There is also a chance that it may have been both. I cannot recollect how much this charge was. But, consider this is your reminder to carry cash if you visit.
Being a plant mom, I entered the parking area with enthusiasm. To the left, my eyes fell upon gardens and archways formed by vining plants. We wandered up the stairs, completely shaded by nature, and entered a beautiful park. Encircled by gardens, I instantly sensed tranquility. Trails upon trails led to various gardens and shaded areas. This park is fitting for exploring, having a picnic, or simply spending some time to yourself. The view from just about anywhere you stood was unmatched, encompassed by volcanoes and lakes.
We enjoyed taking photos and identifying where each pathway led us. Shaded and hit with a cool breeze, the bright sun did not impede our plans. Altogether, I would say we spent 45 minutes to an hour solely exploring our surroundings.
Hearing the term “national park,” I automatically assume it is an area with many mountains, hills, natural wonders, and/or preserved land with historical structures. Yet, this felt more like a botanical garden than anything else.
While proceeding to the parking lot, our eyes instantly fell upon numerous local shops, restaurants, and small snack bars following two lines of picnic tables. The tables were crowded with locals who felt the compulsion to stare as we neared the area until we entered the vehicle. We promptly made our way to the food. Stations were filled with fresh fruit, sitting out in buckets of ice, and eats that we were unfamiliar with. Following several purchases of snacks and fruits, we quickly took a seat. Touring the area, we discovered small shops saturated with souvenirs.
After striving to satisfy cravings and a bit of souvenir shopping, we exited the national park. Parque Nacional Cerro Verde is most definitely worth the small admission fee and the number of stairs our legs struggled to climb. If you are in the region and appreciate botanical gardens, national parks, or just nature in and of itself, I would highly suggest not missing out.