Arequipa is one of my favourite cities in Peru. Located at 2335 m.a.s.l., its beautiful white colonial buildings, the main plaza, the river, and the volcanoes surrounding the city all make it one of a kind and charming. The 3 volcanoes you can see from the city are: Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Picchu. Although many simply admire their immensity from the streets or from the plaza, very few actually adventure out to hike their summits. The best time of the year to hike is between April and December.
My husband and I have hiked to 4 different volcanoes in and around Arequipa that are all part of the Cordillera Volcanica of the Andes mountain range.
These are unique experiences where you can appreciate an amazing sunrise and sunset, see a sky full of stars, hike with a full moon lighting your way, connect with your breath, get a workout, be with friends, and enjoy a healthy weekend.
The Misti is a strato volcano (conical volcano made up of many layers) in the Chili valley. Its last registered activity was in 1870. It is an emblematic and fundamental element of Arequipa’s beautiful landscape. It has a perfect triangular shape that you can see from the plane as you land, or from the city center. The route is fairly easy, as you zig-zag your way up to the summit.
Base camp: 4600 m.a.s.l
Hiking time: 14hs
About 55km from the city, Chachani is an inactive volcano. Its summit has been affected by global warming and in spring and fall the ice nearly melts completely. It has four different summits: Main summit 6075m.a.s.l, Pico de los Angeles (5852m.a.s.l), Monte Trigo (5820 m.a.s.l) and Horqueta (5484 m.a.sl.). Reaching this volcano’s summit is somewhat difficult because of its height. I would recommend hiking it after another volcano, so you can acclimatise well.
Chachani Base camp: 5150m.a.s.l.
Average hiking time: 12hs
Pichu Pichu, 5664m.a.s.l.
Pichu Pichu is an extinct volcano, which means that it no longer has magma and according to scientist it is likely that it will erupt. Historically, it was considered sacred by the inhabitants of the Arequipa region. When you reach the summit, you can see inca walls. They found 3 mummies at its summit, two in the 1960s, and another in the 90s. Our guide was on the National Geographic expeditions that recovered these mummies. We had a small ceremony with offerings and a meditation in honor of the mountains. The route is somewhat technical, since at some point we tied ourselves together and climbed rocks.
Pichu Pichu Base camp: 4600 m.a.s.l
Average hiking time: 12hs
Located 70km east from Arequipa, Ubinas is Peru’s most active volcano and it is monitored 24/7. It is an easy hike, since it is not very cold, and usually does not have snow. I say usually because the first time we hiked it, it snowed like it does in Montreal. We woke up at 3am and started hiking around 5am. The car brought us slightly higher and we started hiking. When we reached the summit at 5672m.a.s.l, there was a strong smell of sulfur and it was quite windy. The route is somewhat difficult and is a good hike for your first volcano hike.
Base camp: 4850m.a.s.l
Hiking time: 7-8 hs.
If you love hiking, camping, and spending time in the mountains, these hikes are definitely worth it! Make sure you acclimatise well, especially if you have never gone to such heights. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on how to prepare for these types of expeditions!