Arequipa is a beautiful city with the most visually striking historic center in Peru (Sorry Cusco). The authentic colonial urban scenery in the old town is complemented by three imposing volcanoes including Pichu Pichu.
The Pichu Picchu volcano is composed of several peaks that flank the so-called White City. The imposing natural wonder holds a mystical past and a romantic legend that left us captivated from beginning to end.
Going back in time, our ancestors used to worship the mountains and believed in the power they held upon the land. For that reason, religious ceremonies were performed in their honor though there’s a more gloomy intent to these rituals.
As you may know, the ancient civilizations in Peru also made human sacrifices in honor of their gods, and the Inca culture wasn’t the exception. Therefore, just as many other imposing peaks, the Pichu Pichu volcano was one of these powerful ‘Apus’ thought to be thirsty for blood.
Ok, we went too far with that last line, but unfortunately, those beliefs were part of that era, and though we know little about these ceremonies, we can deduct a bit more thanks to the studies carried out on the site. Are you ready to uncover these mysteries? Here’s everything you need to know!
As we mentioned earlier, the Pichu Picchu volcano is composed of seven peaks and the elevation varies in all of them. The tallest peak in the Pichu Pichu mountain group is called “El Coronado,” which has an altitude of 5,665 meters above sea level.
Unlike the Misti Volcano, this one has been inactive for centuries and there is no data about when it could have been the last volcanic eruption. The Pichu Pichu volcano is located 32 kilometers away from Arequipa and can be seen from the Carmen Alto Viewpoint.
During some expeditions carried out by the archeologists José Antonio Chávez and Johan Reinhard, three Incan mummies were found on top of these mountains. One of them is showcased at the Archeological Museum José Maria Moranta of the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.
The White City of Arequipa has a precious cultural expression that spreads all over the region. For that reason, we’ve come up with a romantic but also unfortunate legend about two lovers, depicting the origin of the Pichu Picchu volcano.
Long before mankind, Pichu Pichu fell in love with his beautiful neighbor, Chachani. However, the gods did not approve this union, and they separated them abruptly, putting a tall and impenetrable soldier right in the middle of them, the Misti volcano.
As Pichu Pichu could not see his lover anymore, he raged upon the gods, cursed and insulted them, which is why they opened the sky and let a waterfall fall on him, making Pichu Picchu crumble and condemning him to sleep eternally.
Nowadays, when the sky is completely clear, you can see the silhouette of a man sleeping on top of the hills, with his hands crossed upon his chest, waiting to be awakened by his lover.
As you already know, the Pichu Pichu Volcano is located in the Arequipa region, near the Misti volcano. The easy access summit has an elevation of 5,515 meters above sea level.
Due to the high elevation of this natural wonder, the trail to Pichu Pichu Volcano is considered to be very challenging due its steepness and the altitude factor
The trek takes about two days to reach the summit, 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.
Since the Pichu Pichu 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.
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