Peru Volcanoes

The Andes Mountains consist of an unbroken series of western South American peaks that stretch from Columbia down to Argentina. Right in the heart of the Andean mountain chain is Peru. The Andean plate comprises one of the best examples of continental margin magmatism found anywhere on the planet. In other words, there is quite a bit of volcanic activity going on in the Andes Mountains. The volcanoes of Peru pertain to the Central Zone of the South American volcano grid, and they are located primarily in the southern part of the country. This Central Zone is an especially elevated region, and its size is topped only by that of the Tibetan plateau in Asia. There are 16 volcanoes in Peru, the most famous of which are Misti volcano, Chachani volcano and Ubinas volcano. Ubinas is the most active volcano in Peru, experiencing its last significant eruptions in 2006. Nearby towns were evacuated during the 2006 eruptions, which killed livestock and caused significant respiratory and eye problems for surrounding residents. There are tours available if you wish to climb one or more of the Peru volcanoes, which makes for quite a memorable addition to your Peru list of things to do.

If you want to climb one of the Peru volcanoes, then you may consider heading to the beautiful city of Arequipa. Found in south central Peru, Arequipa is the second largest city in the country after Lima, and it boasts a nice selection of hotels and restaurants. About 90 miles northwest of Arequipa is where you will find the highest volcano in Peru, Nevado Coropuna, which tops out at around 20,900 feet. A close second to Nevado Coropuna in terms of height, Nevado Chachani, rises to approximately 19,800 feet. Chachani is also found near Arequipa, and it is quite popular with tourists who like to do a bit of hiking here and there. You can find tours in Arequipa that offer guided trips to the top of Chachani. Chachani does not have any glaciers, nor does it have an ice cap, making for a pretty easy climb. Your biggest worry will be altitude sickness. If you are heading to Arequipa after spending time in Cusco and Machu Picchu, you might see if you can’t find any coca or muña leaves at the Cusco market. Chewing them or steeping them as tea is a safe and effective means by which to lessen altitude sickness symptoms.

For those who want to hike independently, Misti volcano is often the popular choice for Peru volcanoes to visit. Misti volcano is also located near Arequipa, and its image on the horizon is one of the city’s most enduring symbols. An interesting side note about Misti volcano is that its white volcanic stone, known as sillar, was used in the construction of a good majority of Arequipa’s colonial buildings. In 1998, archaeologists found six Inca mummies and a good collection of rare Inca artifacts inside Misti’s inner crater, the likes of which you can check out at Arequipa’s Museo de Santuarios Andinos. Unlike the modest mountain climbing techniques that you will have to employ if you want to climb most of the available volcanoes in Peru, Misti volcano makes for a pretty easy ascent. There are some steep parts, and the loose ground can be somewhat technical, but generally you can simply walk to the top without crampons, ropes, or an ice ax. As is the case in the Andes Mountains, altitude is your primary concern. Misti volcano is just over 19,100 feet above sea level, meaning that you will surely notice a decrease in oxygen levels.

Sabancaya is the name of another of the volcanoes of Peru that you might consider climbing with on an organized tour. As is the case with other Peru volcanoes mentioned in this article, Sabancaya is close to Arequipa. The best time to climb the volcanoes in Peru is between the months of April and November, before the rainy season hits. If you climb Sabancaya, or any other of the Peru volcanoes where guided tours are the norm, your guide(s) should be able to brief you on what you will need and how the climb will go. There are plenty of tour agencies in Arequipa that can help you select the right volcano in Peru to climb. Just be sure to bring quality winter clothes for the ascent if you plan on climbing one or more of the Peru volcanoes. These tours usually last from 1 to 3 days, with camping as your means of accommodations on the overnight treks. If you so desire, you can usually pay a bit extra to have porters carry your heavier personal items, while you hold on to essentials like your camera and a bottle of water.

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