Climate: The rain season runs from December to March, while the best time to visit is from April to June. The climate is dry and sunny by day, with cold nights. Average temperatures reach 20°C.
Access: The Colca Valley is located 150 km (around 4 hours) northeast of the city of Arequipa. The Cotahuasi Valley lies 375 km (around 12 hours) northeast of Arequipa.
Arequipa is synonymous with volcanoes, blue skies and endless plains. Known as the White City for the white volcanic ashlar stone used in its buildings, Arequipa City sits at the foot of the western Andes.
The city is the starting point for a number of ascents of variable difficulty, all characterized by a rare combination of breath-taking landscapes, easy access, and a significant cultural element. Ancient Peruvians chose Arequipa's volcano summits for ritual human sacrifices to honor their gods, as shown by the recent discovery of Juanita or Little Jane, the mummified Inca maiden found in an exceptionally good state of preservation on the summit of Mount Ampato.
Misti volcano (5 825 meters) is the main symbol of Arequipa. More than a climb, going up Misti implies a two-day walk on often-loose ground up steep slopes. The most popular ascent starts from the city of Arequipa itself and goes on to Tambo Inca and the base camp at Nido de Aguilas (Eagle's Nest) to reach the summit on the second day of ascent.
Chachani (6,075 meters), the city's other volcano, can be approached along a spectacular gravel road that climbs toward the Pampa de Arrieros.
Four hours from Arequipa, the Colca Valley features stunning mountains that have also become popular among mountain climbers. They include volcanoes like Ampato (6,288 meters) and Sabancaya (5,976 meters), as well as the glacier at Hualca Hualca (6,025 meters), among the most important.
Lastly, the Coropuna (6,425 meters), probably the most beautiful mountain in the Cotahuasi Valley, offers travelers an impressive view of the area. It can be reached from lake Pallarcocha, a little more than two days away from Arequipa by road.
If willing to practice mountaineering in Peru you should follow these recommendations:
- Climbers should get information on the state of trails and the degree of difficulty of the climbing route. It is best to check with the local inhabitants.
- Bear in mind that local inhabitants have different notions of time and distance. The classic response "aquicito nomás" (just around the corner) can mean long hours of trekking up steep slopes.
- Do not pull up or cut live plants or light fires within highland forests.
- Do not move trail signposts.
- Do not hunt or fish during the dry season (trout fishing ban).
- Always inform local authorities or mountain climbing associations in the area of your entry into mountainous areas.
- Never go on climbs or treks unaccompanied.
- Always bring back litter. Leaving it on the mountainside can harm the fragile environment.
- Should bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
- High altitude sickness known locally as soroche can set in at over 2,500 masl. Take precautions by resting the first day, drink plenty of liquids and avoid heavy food and alcohol.
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Summits of Arequipa