Arequipa El Misti Volcano
The very famous guardian volcano that is the El Misti towers just over 5,800 metres / 19,025 feet above Arequipa and is known for its relatively easy mountain climbs. However, although the El Misti volcano ranks amongst the easiest ascents possible for a mountain of this size, it is still hard work and will require specialist equipment at times, such as crampons and even an ice axe.
Those intending to climb El Misti often choose to base themselves at Arequipa and arrive between July and November, when the climatic conditions are at their most favourable. If you are lucky enough to reach the top, you will discover a large iron cross, which is some 10 metres / 33 feet tall and was erected as long ago as 1901.
Next to the very summit of the El Misti volcano is a spreading yellow crater, with various surrounding holes hissing as gas is expelled. From the top, the views of Arequipa and the Laguna de Salinas are nothing short of spectacular, and make any effort more than worthwhile.
There are a number of different routes up El Misti, and although these are clearly signposted, it is advisable to follow an experienced guide, and worth bearing in mind that the Apurimac trek is known for its robberies.
Therefore, the much safer two-day Chiguata route remains one of the best ways to reach the top of the El Misti volcano, and generally takes eight hours to reach base camp at 4,500 metres / 14,760 feet, and just three hours to head downwards to Chiguata.
Be prepared for an early morning start, to avoid the predictable midday mists, and bring plenty to eat and drink along the way. Tourists from Arequipa who are feeling less energetic will be pleased to hear that you can actually take a jeep ride up some 3,300 metres / 10,825 feet of the El Misti and then enjoy a much more leisurely hike. Mountain biking excursions down the El Misti volcano are also available and becoming increasingly popular.