A volcanic backdrop provides an impressive setting for Arequipa, Peru’s second city. Volcano mountains Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu ring the city to the north and east.
From left to right, Chachani (partially obscured), Misti and Pichu Pichu volcanoes viewed from Arequipa’s Yanahuara Plaza
Located in the gigantic Andes Mountain Range’s Central Volcanic Zone, Misti last erupted in 1985 while Chachani and Pichu Pichu are extinct volcanic groups. All three volcanoes are climbable either with or without a guide. I didn’t consider climbing them because of altitude sickness.
Locations in Arequipa to see all three volcanoes together include Yanahuara Plaza (Plaza de Yanahuara), the Andrés Avelino Cáceres Street pedestrian bridge near the bus terminal (Terminal Terrestre) and the Katari Hotel rooftop restaurant off the main square (Plaza de Armas).
The three volcanoes from a pedestrian bridge close to Arequipa’s bus station (Terminal Terrestre)
The level of snow cover varies depending on the season and weather with summer (December to March) bringing the most snow. However, clear winter skies in the middle of the year provide better viewing conditions.
Snow-capped Chachani and Misti at dusk under the moon at the very top
The volcanoes provide the white sillar rock used to construct many of Arequipa’s buildings, hence the nickname “the white city” (la ciudad blanca).
Cori and her friend playing in the grass outside Arequipa, ambivalent to Chachani’s magnificence in the background
Chachani, 6.075 metres high, is the tallest mountain of the three volcanoes and the only one above 6,000 metres.
Chachani covered in snow (note the even snowline) viewed from Friendly AQP Hostel’s rooftop
Glowing clouds at sunset shroud Chachani as viewed from YES Arequipa Hostel’s rooftop
Misti Volcano and the Chili River, Arequipa’s most famous geographic features
Misti is Arequipa’s most famous volcano and a symbol of the city. At 5,822 metres high it is lower than Chachani but appears more prominent, perhaps because of its closer location.
Latte Art from Palacios Coffee featuring Misti Volcano erupting and a bridge over the Chili River
Last erupting in 1985, a significant Misti discharge could damage Arequipa, particularly the modern suburbs built closer to the volcano.
A close-up of Misti’s snow-covered peak
Misti as viewed through a Yanahuara Plaza arch
Video of Misti at dawn from YES Arequipa’s rooftop
For even more Misti, there is a webcam at http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe/visual/misti/.
Pichu Pichu at dusk from Yanahuara Plaza
Pichu Pichu, 5,669 metres high, is lower and less famous than Misti and Chachani but still impressive.
Pichu Pichu behind one of Arequipa’s cathedral towers
Pichu Pichu seen from Arequipa’s outskirts