OverviewEl Misti is an active volcano towering over the white city of Arequipa (2380m), the second largest city in Peru. This area was an important settlement area since before the Inca. The Spanish founded the city in 1545. Since the region has a history of earthquakes and eruptions it was only a matter of time before Arequipa was impacted. It was severely damaged in 1600 and then rebuilt. El Misti, thankfully, hasn’t had a major eruption since the 1400’s. In 1998 several mummies were discovered inside the crater rim of the volcano, confirming its sanctification under the Incas.
El Misti is known as a tourist mountain because many travelers to Arequipa see this spectacular mountain and decide to give it a try. Five to ten people a week climb up its dusty slopes. In general one needs two days to make it to the top, for that reason a tent, etc. are necessary. To make it in one day one should be perfectly acclimated and in high physical condition.
On June 23, 2001 a major earthquake whose epicenter was about 110 miles from Arequipa hit Peru. The magnatude 8.4 earthquake killed at least 102 people and caused major damage in Arequipa.
Getting ThereTo get to Arequipa you have two main choices: road or air. Arrival by train from Cusco or Puno is no longer possible.
Arrival by plane is possible from Lima, Cusco, Puno, or La Paz. From Lima the flight is about 70 minutes and costs about $185 USD each way (2014).
If arriving by bus be prepared for a long ride (20 hours from Lima). For more information on how to get to Arequipa, check the Volcanoes of Arequipa page.
Transportation to the Mountain
Because there are just dirt roads to the foot of El Misti you may need a 4x4 to reach the trailheads comfortably (to hire a driver with a 4x4 check this ascent arrangers page).
Aguada Blanca (Northeast Route)
Grau (South Route)
Delantera (Southwest route)
Hiking to the trailhead from the city (south west approach) is no longer recommended due to the risk of traveling through some rough neighborhoods.
Routes OverviewMost climbers take two days to complete the climb. If you are acclimated you can make it from trailhead to summit and back in a long day. Since water isn't found on the mountain the longer you take to climb the more weight you will carry.
Aguada Blanca (NE route)
This is a route reachable in 3 hours by 4x4. The trailhead is approximately at 3700m. Camp is a 4 hour hike to 4600m. The summit can then be reached in 5 to 6 hours. There is bad scree in a few places. The descent to the trailhead is about 2 hours.
Grau (S route)
This is the normal route reachable in 1 hour by 4x4. The trailhead is at 3400m. A hike of 5 to 6 hours gets you to Campo Pirámides Alto at 4610m. It is then 5 hours to the summit and 2 hours descent, mostly on scree, to the trailhead.
Delantera (SW route)
This is the historic route accessible by 4x4 to the trailhead at 3400m (Los Pastores). It used to be the most popular route on the mountain, but robberies have made the route more risky than it was in the past.
A hike of 5 to 6 hours gets you to camp at 4700m. It is then 5 hours to the summit and 3 hours descent to the trailhead.
MapsIGN sheet Characato 33-T, 1:100,000 is the most detailed map available for purchase.
Also consider printing off the section of the Google Earth map which seems to be fairly accurate.
GuidesI can’t speak highly enough for Inca Averntura. Their service was excellent and the experience was awesome. The can pick you up in Arequipa and they offer a variety of routes up El Misti.
Red TapeNo climbing or camping permits are needed.
AccommodationThere are many places to stay in Arequipa ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
See also individual hotel and hostel websites for possibly the best deals.
Hostal “La Reyna”, Calle Zela Nro 209, (Telef. / Telefax:+51-54-286578 hostalreyna[at]yahoo[dot]com) is an affordable hostel with great view of Sta. Catalina Convent and downtown. It also rents climbing gear.
CampingYou can camp anywhere on the mountain.
The normal camps for each route are as follows:
Aguada Blanca; 4600 meters.
Grau; 4500 meters or 4610 meters.
Delantera; 4700 meters.
Have a good tent and beware of blowing sand and volcanic ash, especially on the Aguada Route.
When to ClimbThis is a dry area, so the peak can be climbed year round. Mid April through October is considered the ideal time to climb the peak with normally good weather, though night temperatures June through early September can be pretty cold.
November, early December, and April are in between times with mostly good weather, but more frequent cloud and snow. January through March are the wettest months. Crampons and an ice axe are often needed after a snowstorm.