Misti Volcano looming in the background of Arequipa’s skyline is an iconic sight, representing the White City for Peruvians and travelers alike. It was important in pre-Columbian times as well, as shown by the 1998 expedition which uncovered the mummies of six sacrificed Inca youths and other ritual offerings along the innermost of its three concentric craters. Travelers drawn to the volcano can choose between two adventurous ways to experience its majesty first-hand: climbing to its summit, or biking down its sandy slopes.
One can climb El Misti Volcano in just two days, starting at the volcano’s base at just over 10,800 feet over sea level. Along the way to the first night’s camp at 15420 feet, you’ll be able to see how the plant life changes through the various altitudinal levels. From the campsite, you can look down over the lights of Arequipa while the guide shared the history and lore surrounding the volcanoes. Then you’ll spend a night out under the stars of the southern hemisphere.
The second day begins very early. The trip to the volcano’s crater takes approximately six hours. During that time, you’ll enjoy ever more expansive views of the surrounding landscape. At the top of El Misti, you’ll be able to see its craters and the surrounding volcanoes (Chachani and Picchu Picchu) at close range. Looking out over the landscape, one can also see the Aguada Blanca Dame and Salinas Lakes (in the Aguada Blanca Nature Reserve, which provides refuge for a host of wildlife, including herds of rare vicuña), and Arequipa city. On a clear summer day, you can even see as far as the Pacific Ocean!