Backpack El Misti

Rate this Adventure 15.5 miles 3600 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Christie Kay

El Misti is an iconic volcano, overlooking Arequipa. It can be seen, standing proud, from most points in the city, adding beauty to the skyline. Hiking even halfway up this proud mountain is a feat of strength and endurance; summiting El Misti is a true test of will.

If you ever find yourself in Peru, I highly suggest taking the time to check out El Misti. You'll see this monstrous beast, long before you get anywhere near it. Even while you're resting in your hostel in Arequipa, days before the trek itself. 

Standing at 19,101 feet, to summiting El Misti is a challenge, would be an understatement. Even coming from our home in Colorado, at an altitude of 10,500 feet, we had trouble as we climbed higher and higher. That being said, I highly suggest you enjoy this trek as part of a guided tour. We did not, thus we did not even pretend to make it to the summit. We called it a day at base camp, hung our tails between our legs, and headed back down the mountain. A tour guide will be prepared to help you deal with symptoms of altitude sickness, and any issues with your gear you might have. They also know the trail, which is vital on this trek.

If you go as a part of a guided group, you also have the added bonus of arriving at the trail head, instead of 2.5 miles away from the trail head. 

However, if you're stubborn like we are, and you do find yourself doing this trip unguided, you'll begin your hike with a 2.5 mile dirt road, leading to the trail head. The dirt road is slightly uphill, and definitely a slog, however it does provide excellent views for photos of El Misti. 

Once at the trailhead, you'll truly begin the hike. The first mile or so is a clear but rocky path, not overly strenuous. However, once you hit the uphill, you will know. From this point onward, you will be basically crawling up hill, on you hands, knees, whatever point of contact you can make. We did not have trekking poles - don't come unprepared like we did! Trekking poles would have made this climb much easier. 

This is also where the guide will prove quite necessary, as to the untrained eye, it appears your simply scrambling up an entire mountain of rocks and sand. The guides, however, know the trail like the back of their hands, and will ensure you end up in the right place. 

Once you reach base camp, at roughly 15,500 feet, set up camp, put down some serious calories, and prepare to get up before first light to attempt to summit El Misti. 

Definitely bring a camera on this adventure, it is breathtaking. You may also find yourself joined by a four legged friend! Local dogs like to do the hike with people, they've figured out it's the best way to get treated to human food!  

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