Hiking Volcanoes in Peru.
Nestled at 2335m.a.s.l and surrounded by majestic volcanoes, Arequipa is also known as the “white city” because of its baroque-style buildings made of sillar, a white volcanic rock. Its city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 2000. Its gran plaza, enormous cathedral, beautiful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, as well as its gastronomy make Arequipa a wonderful stop when traveling in Peru.
You can find a variety of activities for different tastes and budgets. One of its main cultural attractions is visiting or trekking in the worlds’ second deepest canyons: the Colca Canyon. You can admire the condors as they drift in the sky and learn about its people’s ancient traditions. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the Chili River is great for white water rafting, or you can hit the bike trails.
The three nearby volcanoes are: Misti, Chachani and Pichu Picchu. Although many tourists admire them from the city streets or lookouts, more adventurous travelers enjoy hiking to their summits.
My husband and I are part of the latter. We left the city on Saturday and headed to the mountains, where one can disconnect from technology and responsibilities, and reconnect with oneself.
Ubinas Volcano, 5672m.a.s.l
Located 70km east from Arequipa, Ubinas is Peru's most active volcano and it is monitored 24/7. It is a fairly easy hike, since it is not very cold, and usually does not have snow. I say usually because the first time we hiked it, it snowed like it does in Montreal. And this time, it snowed on our drive there. We were quite happy to see that it was not snowing when we arrived to set up at base camp, located at about 4850m.a.s.l.
We had an early dinner and went to bed around 7:30pm. We woke up at 3am, the car drove us up higher and we started hiking around 5am. We admired the sunrise and reached the summit, 5672m.a.s.l, about three hours later. When we arrived, we could see the crater. There was a strong smell of sulphur when we reached the top and it was quite windy. We spent some time admiring mountains and other volcanoes in the horizon, taking pictures, and having some food before heading back down.
Pichu Pichu Volcano, 5664m.a.s.l.
Pichu Pichu is an extinct volcano, which means that it no longer has magma and according to scientist it is likely that it will erupt. Historically, the inhabitants of the Arequipa region considered Pichu Pichu mountain as sacred. At the summit, you can see remains of Inca walls. They found 3 mummies at the summit, two in the 1960s, and another in the 90s. Our guide, was on the National Geographic expeditions that recovered these mummies.
We started hiking at 2am. Although we had our headlamps, our guide asked us to close them. The full moon was shining so bright, that it was lighting our way. As the sun started to rise, we could admire the golden horizon and we could feel the warmth in our bodies. As we continued our way up, we had to tie ourselves together and climb. This was definitely a difficult hike and a little more technical than others in the region. The descent was a little long as our bodies were tired, but it was worth every second.
This expedition was very special to us and will be an experience we will never forget. Our guide made a small ceremony with offerings to the mountain. All together, we sat comfortably as he guided us through a meditation, feeling the energy of this special place up in the mountains of Peru.
Stay tuned for my upcoming articles on preparing for high altitude hikes, how to pack for your expedition, and my experience hiking Mt. Elbrus in Russia, making this the second peak I will climb from The 7 Summits, which represent the highest point on each of the seven continents.
To read more about other volcanoes that Dania has summited in Peru, go to her blog: https://daniahabib.com/2018/05/03/hiking-4-volcanos-in-around-arequipa/
M.a.s.l.: meters above sea level