All about the Misti volcano
El Misti (a white man in the Quechua language) is an inactive volcano located at the foot of the Chili River valley, 18 kilometers from the city of Arequipa. In the vision of Arequipa citizens, it symbolizes an 'Apu' (lord) protector of the city. The 'ashlar' volcanic material formed thousands of years ago was used for the construction of houses and temples during the colonial era. It is located between the Chanchani and Picchu Pichu Picchu volcanoes.
Research at the Misti volcano suggests that there was a major eruption during the rule of the Inca Túpac Yupanqui in the 15th century. Incidentally, in 1998, tombs of Inca child sacrifices were found in the center of the crater. Currently, the volcano is inactive. The 2-day route to the Misti volcano includes a night of camping and a tour of approximately 10 hours. From there you have a spectacular view of the city of Arequipa, its volcanoes, snow-capped mountains and landscapes.
The Misti volcano is located at 5,822 meters above sea level (19,101 feet elevation).
In recent years, climate change has caused the perpetual snows of the Misti volcano to begin to melt. According to specialists, in addition to the snow, the queñua forests on the slopes of the volcano are also disappearing. According to the long-lived inhabitants, a few decades ago you could see the Misti full of snow, however, now this is not possible. This is due to the emission of greenhouse gases in the city.
Where is it?
The Misti volcano is located in the department of Arequipa, in southern Peru. It is located just 18 kilometers from the center of the 'white city'. Geographically, it is located between the volcanoes Chanchani (6,055 meters) and Pichu Picchu (5,665 meters).
How to get?
The only way to get to the top of the Misti volcano is by hiking, be it 2, 3 days or more. The first part of the section must be done by land transport.
The Misti volcano is approximately 800 thousand years old. During Inca times, like the most important Andean snow-capped mountains, it was considered an 'Apu' or lord of great importance. Geological studies indicate up to 5 small volcanic activities in the 20th century. In the 15th century, during the reign of the Inca Túpac Yupanqui, the volcano erupted causing damage to the population. Because of this, the Incas performed rituals of 'Capacocha' (child sacrifices) to calm the anger of the 'apu'.
During colonial times, many of the houses, palaces and temples in the city of Arequipa were built using sillar (white stone formed from the deposition of ash produced by the Misti volcano). Because of this, Arequipa is known as the 'white city'. The last intense volcanic activity was in 1870. Currently, the Misti is considered a symbol of the Arequipa city.
Hiking route to the Misti volcano
The Misti volcano is a tourist attraction in Arequipa, which can be reached after a 2-day hiking trail tour.
Day 1 – The trip begins in the city of Arequipa, with a trip by vehicle to the base of the 'Misti', at an approximate altitude of 3,300 meters above sea level (10,826 feet). From there a hiking route of approximately 5 hours begins to the camp where you will spend the night. The landscape offers a beautiful view of the city of Arequipa, the stars, the Misti volcano and the set of Andean snow-capped mountains around it.
Day 2 – On that day the final ascent of approximately 5 hours will be made to the crater of the Misti volcano, located at an altitude of 5,822 meters above the sea (19,191 feet). There the panoramic views of the city and its surroundings are even better. Finally, you will return on foot to the camp where the car will take the visitors back to the city of Arequipa.
The 2-day tours to the Misti volcano cost approximately US $ 80 per tourist.
What to bring
- Sportswear (warm for the night).
- Hiking shoes.
- Sleeping bag.
- Cap or hat.
- Rehydrating water.
- Walking sticks (optional).
The climate in the Misti volcano is extremely cold, with night temperatures as low as -15ºC. (5ºF). During the day, the heat can reach 5ºC. (41ºF). The rainiest season occurs from November to March. The least rainy but coldest season is from April to October.
When to go?
The rainiest season occurs from November to March. The least rainy but coldest season is from April to October. According to specialists, the best time to visit the Misti volcano is from April to October (especially in May, June and July).
Photos of the Misti volcano
In the 1998 expedition carried out by the archaeologists José Antonio Chávez and Johan Reinhard, the remains of six skeletons of Inca children were found, which were sacrificed in the ceremony known as 'capacocha'. It is the first find of a massive tomb, which is currently in the museum of Andean Sanctuaries in the city of Arequipa.
Although the Misti volcano is currently inactive, its volcanic activity continues to generate earthquakes and fumaroles. According to geological studies in the last 50,000 years, the Misti volcano erupted 12 times. The last one during the 15th century, in the middle of the Inca empire. Most of the expelled products settled in the city of Arequipa. According to specialists, the volcano can erupt again.
El Misti is the most famous volcano in Peru. It is one of the greatest symbols of the city of Arequipa. During your trip there, do not miss the opportunity to visit other tourist attractions, such as: the Colca canyon, the Majes valley, the Salinas and Aguada Blanca national reserve as well as the Yanahuara viewpoint.
The Misti volcano is at high altitude. For a better visit, it is advisable to adapt to the geography of Arequipa, one or two days before. To counteract the symptoms of altitude sickness, you can drink plenty of water (coca tea is an excellent option).