Arequipa is a beautiful and elegant city under the imposing presence of the Misti volcano. There are buildings made of “sillar”, a white volcanic stone, which gives it the name of “ciudad blanca” (white city).

I walk through the center, with the cathedral, the “Compañía de Jesús” and a beautiful Plaza de Armas.

The buildings are reinforced against the frequent earthquakes that happened historically.  I also take the opportunity to take a look at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a monastery that looks like a village, where nuns lived for 4 centuries.

Catedral Arequipa
 Arequipa Cathedral
Compañía de Jesús Arequipa
Compañía de Jesús, reinforced against earthquakes and YepYepYep flirting with a plant

But what really stimulates the mind d’en Yep Yep Yep is the view of the imposing volcanoes that surround the city of Arequipa: Chachani, at 6,075 meters and Misti, at 5,822 meters.

I stay in hostal Orkkowasi (Orkko= mountain, wasi=house) just two blocks away from the Plaza de Armas. I comment to José, the friendly owner of the hostel, if he knows a company that does tours to climb one of these mountains.
He tells me that he wants to climb it himself to train a bit, and that he prefers Misti because it is harder to climb than Chachani as they bring you quite close to the top, and it is not so demanding. We buy food, prepare the tent and the stove, and the next day we go towards Misti!

Ascent to the Misti Volcano (5822 meters)

Data sheet

  • Track link:
  • Distance and elevation: 7.3 km (+2500m, -180m) just one way
  • Length: 2 days (7 hours the first day and 3 hours the second to go up, and down in 2 hours … running!)
  • Difficulty: difficult due to the height, but does not have any technical issues. I did it at the end of November and there was no snow
  • Material: tent, clothing for large thermal changes, stove, first aid kit
  • Pictures: Misti album
Misti Map West Side

Misti Map through the west face

We approach the head trail with his brother’s taxi passing the Alto Selva Alegre neighborhood while we talk about politics (there are general elections in Peru in April 2016), about Spain, and about soccer.

We start the walk on the west side of the volcano in sector Pastores, at 3.395 m. It is a barren road, full of dry bushes, and it is quite hot. In the background, we can see the perfect shape of the volcanic cone that we want to climb.

Misti Arequipa

José and Misti

I start well and with energy, but although I have been in Cusco for more than a month, and I am a little used to the altitude, I get tired faster than normal. This altitude thing is difficult to explain until you experience it.

My body asks me to stop from time to time to be able to supply my cells with oxygen and to eat and drink water. The only solution is to go at the rhythm that the body allows you to go, which is quite a slow pace! We go up a section called “lizard’s tail”, with volcanic debris that makes you go two steps and go back one step. Then we come to the area of ​​the “Eagle’s nest”, easier to hike because it is rockier.

It is not a very technical ascent apart of the challenge of the altitude. After 7 hours walking we camp with fantastic views of Arequipa and the Chachani volcano. A reddish light gives the landscape a lunar air, and it gets dark with the lights of Arequipa lighted up in the background.

Chachani from Misti

José and Chachani in the background

Misti Sunset

Magic sunset in the Misti

Misit Sunset

The team at sunset

The next day we get up at 3.30, have breakfast, and go up. Three hours later we reach the top, at 5,822 meters, where there is a cross, and fantastic views of Arequipa and the smoking volcano, that we explore further.
It’s been a long time since I got that tired! It is the highest summit I have ever climbed, and it makes me admire the mountaineers who climb peaks at high altitudes and fully equipped, it is really hard!
Yep yep yep in the summit
Misti Cruz

José climbing up to the top of the top

crater misti

Going to the crater

Crater Misti

Misti smoky crater

We relax for a while on top of the volcano and come down really fast. The altitude is not noticeable when going down! If it took us 10 hours to go up, it took us only 2 hours to go down!

Now the only thing left to do is go back to Arequipa and celebrate with a “very cold chela”!