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Misti - Climbing Arequipa - Peru

Misti (5,828 m/19,000 ft) is the closest volcano to Arequipa, only 17 kilometers (10.5 mi) away. Its nearly perfect cone offers a fairly straightforward opportunity to summit a high peak, but its sand and ash make it a challenging climb. It has two access routes: from the south and from the north.

The southern route has traditionally been the one climbers took. It still sees lots of traffic, especially during Semana Santa and Arequipa’s anniversary, when arequipeños climb the volcano. This side, though, suffers from problems with robberies. It’s especially not recommended to take the public buses to Misti, as they’ll drop you and your gear in the shantytown which has expanded at the southern base of the mountain, which is where most theft takes place. However, many agencies still operate on the south side of Misti, believing in safety in numbers.

The best northern route is through the Reserva Nacional de Aguada Blanca. This climb requires passing over a dam, which is only possible with a certified agency, who must get permission from the government three days in advance of the excursion, so it’s necessary to book at least that many days before you plan to start. This climb is more costly than going with an operator on the southern route and it takes six hours to summit the peak; the whole trip is usually done in two days.

At one point, Misti was a good volcano to summit solo, but now locals warn travelers from going up alone. It’s best to go with a tour agency which approaches Misti from the other (north) side of the mountain for a much safer trip. Most groups leave their tents and other gear at base camp while they make the rest of the summit, and it's not uncommon to return to find that all of your stuff has been stolen, so if you go, be prepared to lose what you leave.

Since 2009, Volcán Misti has come back to life, emitting gases and rock from its crater. Activity increased in June 2011 and continues. Do not get near the crater, and check on conditions before starting an expedition.

Around Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru

Climbing, Hiking, Trekking

Here are other activities in and around Around Arequipa that may be of interest: Hiking Near Arequipa and Chachani.

By Karen Nagy
Karen Nagy is a staff editor/writer at V!VA. She studied travel writing and learned the joys of Mediterranean island-hopping in Greece, and went on...
03 Jul 2012

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