Discover Arequipa & Colca Canyon
See Peru's south before the secret's out! The 'white city' of Arequipa has a friendly atmosphere, colonial architecture (including a working convent) and the incredible El Misti Volcano towering over the cityscape.
Looming 5822m (19,101ft) above Arequipa, the city's guardian volcano El Misti is the most popular climb in the area. At the top is a 10m (33ft) iron cross, which was erected in 1901. Below the summit is a sulfurous yellow crater with volcanic fumaroles hissing gas, and there are spectacular views down to the Laguna de Salinas and back to the city.
El Misti is technically one of the easiest ascents of any mountain of this size in the world, but it's hard work nonetheless and you normally need an ice ax and, sometimes, crampons. It's best climbed between July and November, with the later months being the least cold. There are several routes, but none are clearly marked and at least one (notably the Apurímac route) is notorious for robberies, so taking a guide is highly recommended.
One popular route, starting from Chiguata, is an eight-hour hard uphill slog on rough trails to base camp (4500m/14,763ft); from there to the summit and back takes eight hours, while the sliding return from base camp to Chiguata takes three hours or less.