One of the best hikes in the world
- Vulcão El Misti
- Wawa Putina (Guagua Putina)
Misti at 5822m (19,101ft) is one of the easiest, most visible, most popular, most accessible high summits in the world. It is recommended for all self-sufficient hikers. If you tolerate cold & altitude symptoms, the ascent is little trouble in good weather.
- Misti is a trekking peak — no mountaineering skills nor gear needed if the weather is good
- 3 days, 25km circuit plus the climb is recommended. Most do it in 2 days, 1 night, however.
- easy access from Arequipa, our favourite city in Peru
- best months July – November, though it can be climbed year round
- downhill biking popular, as well
- if you like Misti, consider nearby Chachani (6,075m) and Ampato (6,310m)
Why We Like This Hike
- PERU is a wonderful hiking destination
- the goal for Misti is reaching a 10m (33ft) summit cross, erected in 1901
- near the inner crater 6 Inca mummies and rare Inca artifacts were found 1998. See those at the Museo de Santuarios Andinos in Arequipa.
- no glaciers and normally little snow. You can reach 19.000+ feet if you keep moving your feet 🙂
- reaching one of Earth’s highest craters
- no water once you start up. Carry what you need. Cache some at the bottom for your return.
- many do not reach the top due to bad weather, altitude sickness and/or exhaustion. If you’ve acclimatized somewhere else in the Andes, your odds of success go up
- 3 concentric volcanic craters. In the inner crater fumarole activity can be seen.
- last eruption 1985
- bring enough warm clothing for high altitude
- people under-estimate how cold the weather can get high on Misti
- you might need ice ax and/or crampons. Rent those in Arequipa.
- conversational Spanish is a BIG help in Peru
- there are many other excellent treks near Arequipa
- other volcanoes nearby: Chachani (19,800 feet), Picchu Picchu (18,500 feet)
- most suffer some altitude sickness. Try chewing coca leaves, available in any market.
- as it’s famous and accessible, many inexperienced hikers give it a go
- beware of blowing sand and volcanic ash
- the “trail” is sand and scree
- Peru is not as inexpensive for the foreign tourist as it was in the past
March 2014, market prices for an ascent of El Misti, from Arequipa, were as follow:
Complete guided package:
180 to 250 US$ for 1 client
160 to 225 US$ for 2 clients
100 to 150 US$ for 5 clients and more
Transportation from downtown to the trailhead (Ruta Grau or Southern approach) and back from the trailhead to downtown: 50 to 70 US$ depending on the quality of the used 4×4 vehicle.
Guiding services for high summits: 70 to 80US$ / day (El Misti is viewed as a one-day trip to guide as the ascent starts at mid-day and finishes the next day at mid-day).
- Rick did the Aguada Blanca or Eastern Approach
Rather than returning directly to Arequipa, Rick trekked out following the 3 day route recommended by Lonely Planet:
night 0 = Arequipa 2230m
… 8AM hired vehicle picks you up at your hotel ($50 one way in 2005)
… drive to trailhead (2 hours)
… climb to campsite (2 hours)
night 1= Monte Blanco 4800m – named after Mont Blanc, the summit of which is about the same elevation
… at first light slow, steady climb to the summit (4 hours)
… investigate the summit craters (1 hour)
… easy, sliding descent (2 hours)
night 2 = Monte Blanco 4800m
… a long, easy downhill hike out to Chiguata main plaza (6 hours)
… mini-bus back to Arequipa, 45 minutes
night 3= Arequipa
To help acclimatize Rick went first to the Colca Canyon, sleeping 2 nights in Cabanaconde (3287m) & one night in Tapay at near that altitude. He had no real problems with altitude on Misti.
A permit is needed for the Aguada Blanca route. When you hire a driver, check with one of the travel agencies in Arequipa for details. Permission can take a few days to obtain.
___ More popular is the Grau (South Route) 2-days, 1-night. No permit required.
Avoid the Delantera (Southwest route) … also known as Apurímac, closest to the city, notorious for robberies.
The easiest and safest way to do Misti is with an adventure travel company:
We have not used any of the guides. Many touts in Arequipa deliver you to one of the few actually guiding companies for a commission.
South American Explorers Cusco is your first and best source of information(South American Explorers was closed in 2017. We are not sure whether they will ever reopen.)
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Trekking in Peru (get the most up-to-date edition)
- Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes 2003
- The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society by Reinhard, Johan (2005)
We LOVE that 2003 guidebook. But certainly wish LP would update.
Best Travel Guidebooks
- IGN sheet Characato 33-T, 1:100,000
Best Web Pages
- summitpost – Misti
Best Trip Reports
- Cody Geib – Summiting El Misti Volcano (2013)
- Backpackers Wanted – Trekking to Misti Volcano
- Boriss Andean – my Misti adventures 2010
- Aaron T – 2013
- McCharles 2005 – annotated photos
- bigwilly – Misti Calling 2007
Click PLAY or watch a short Yeti Adventure trip report on YouTube.
Unfortunately, the freezing temperatures, high winds and an incoming storm forced us to turn back without reaching the summit.
These guys reach the summit. In much better weather. 🙂 Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.