Machu Picchu Travel

Misti Volcano

Misti Volcano

If you’re following our Arequipa travel guide, you surely have read about the towering Misti volcano, in case you haven’t, here you’ll learn everything about this still active titan situated in Arequipa’s countryside. 

The Arequipa city is located in southern Peru, at an elevation of 2,335 meters above sea level. The so-called White City is surrounded by three imposing volcanoes, the most impressive being the Misti volcano, a towering peak that surpasses the 5,000 meters of elevation.

The region was inhabited since the pre-Columbian era, and many civilizations added a mystical definition to this natural wonder. Therefore, Misti’s eminent power was feared by many, leading to human and animal sacrifices to ease the rage of this ‘mighty god.’

For that reason, the Misti Volcano held an important role during the religious and mystical development of these cultures, which was transmitted from generation to generation, influencing one of the most recognized societies, the Incas.

Currently, it is one of the most sought after attractions though not many have been able to conquer its summit. The Misti Volcano is a symbol of culture and history, but also a powerful force of nature.

About the Misti Volcano

As we mentioned before, the Misti volcano is located a few kilometers away from the city of Arequipa, which is why it can be spotted overlooking the entire White City. It is a stratovolcano, a conical volcano made of different layers of hardened lava.

The Misti volcano is about 112,000 years old and has registered at least 12 significant volcanic eruptions in the past 50,000 years, expelling remains on the area occupied by the Arequipa city. 

It is worth mentioning that this volcano is still active, which is why it is considered of great danger to the Arequipeñan population, though it has remained ‘asleep’ for several years.

The Misti Volcano During Inca Times

According to historians, the last major eruption took place in the 15th century, during the reign of the Inca Pachacutec. However, it has made its presence known throughout the years since pre-Columbian civilizations were aware of its rage and power.

In an expedition carried out by Johan Reinhard - the same archeologist who discovered the Juanita Mummy - and José Antonio Chávez in 1998, they found several tombs inside the volcanic crater. About 8 bodies were identified in this on-field investigation, dating back to 550 years ago.

The discovery pointed out that the Incas held ceremonial sacrifices to calm this ‘very aggressive’ Apu. The ancient Quechua civilization used children only to deliver a message to the gods so things could go back to normal.

Some children were offered at birth, they used to live in great conditions and were treated like royalty. As gloomy as it may sound, they were raised with a purpose, to honor their gods by offering their lives.

These human sacrifices were carried out by strangulation, a strong blow to the head or were buried alive. However, it is uncertain to know how these 8 children died due to the poor conditions of the remains.

How to Visit the Misti Volcano?

As you already know, the Misti Volcano is located in the Arequipa region, between the Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes. It has an elevation of 5,825 meters above sea level and it’s one of the few active volcanoes in Peru.

Due to the high elevation of this natural wonder, the Misti Volcano is considered to be a challenging trek since the trail is covered in volcanic materials and ashes, which makes it difficult to pass on the trail.

Likewise, the trek could take up to 12 hours per day to reach the summit, which is why not many attempt to do so. If you’re up to this adventure you must have a great physical condition, and most importantly, to be properly acclimatized before committing to this activity. 

Arequipa is a region full of natural wonders, history and culture, which is why we'd love to show you everything about it. If you would like to know more about the famous White City, here you have a blog about the top things to do in Arequipa.

Tips for Travelers

Since the Misti Volcano is located on a high elevation, it is usual to see travelers experiencing dizziness, tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath upon arrival, particularly if coming from low-altitude destinations. Make sure to follow these recommendations that will surely help you avoid and deal with altitude sickness:

- Keep yourself hydrated. Water is the best ally to fight and prevent this condition.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking at all costs. Alcohol is dehydrating, and smoking can worsen or cause shortness of breath.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet. High altitude increases the need for fuel since you get dehydrated and burn carbs faster.
- Drink Coca tea or chew Coca leaves. This is a medicinal plant of the Andes, known for helping to ease any altitude sickness symptoms and improving acclimatization.
- Take it easy. Don’t commit to a physically demanding activity on the first 2-3 days upon arrival.

There are some medicines that can help with any altitude sickness symptoms. You can find Diamox or Soroche Pills in almost any drugstore in Peru, nonetheless, we highly recommend consulting with a doctor before taking any of these medications.

Would you like to travel off the beaten path? Well, we got you covered! Viagens Machu Picchu cares to provide everything you need to have an authentic experience across our beautiful country. Check our travel packages and uniquely explore Peru with us!