Hiking A Volcano – Awesomeness (Plus Food)

Hiking A Volcano – Awesomeness (Plus Food)
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.


Phil and I have been staying in Arequipa for the last week or so, and every morning we look out at these gorgeous volcanoes. Phil kept thinking how amazing it would be to hike up one.

One of the volcanoes, called El Misti, doesn’t involve any technical climbing skills (nothing vertical, no ice climbing or anything like that), and there was a group leaving the next day so we decided to go.

Despite being underwhelmingly described as an ‘easy’ hike, it was definitely challenging in terms of having enough oxygen and mental stamina. Luckily, everything went well for us – here’s the story:

We started out in the morning, getting gear from our guide company since we didn’t bring a tent or sleeping bags or anything like that with us. We headed out for a 1 hour drive to the start of the trail, at 3415m/11,200′.

From there, we hiked 5 hours (going very slowly because of the altitude) up to 4600m/15,000′. We stopped about every 45 min for a break – to catch our breath, drink water and have a snack.

We set up our camp for the night overlooking the city and another volcano. Our guide, Jose, made us a great dinner of creamed asparagus soup (thickened with flour and potato starch, not dairy) and then spaghetti with simple tomato sauce.

We ate while watching one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen, vibrant red above a layer of clouds. I managed to catch some of it in the video.

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We also had some chamomile tea to help us drift off to sleep at 7pm so that we could get up at midnight to have a quick ‘breakfast’ (bread, jam and coca tea) and then start hiking again.

After several hours of hiking in the dark, it was amazing to see the sun rise a light purple over another volcano in the area, which was capped in much more snow than the one we were climbing.

We finally made it to the top, which is at 5800m/19,000′, after 7 hours of hiking. It was incredibly – incredibly – tiring to hike at that altitude, but being up there is one of the most amazing feelings I’ve had.

It was also an amazing experience to push ourselves that hard. I’ve done a lot of hiking, but it was really different when having to deal with the altitude. I often felt like we were going in slow motion when we started walking again, but after a few minutes I was glad for the slow pace.

Then the way back down was really fast because we kind of slid down the slope, through volcanic sand. It was 12 hours up, and just over 3 hours back down. So much fun 🙂

And as for the food part of the trip, we of course brought water with us. We had avocado-cucumber sandwiches for lunch, and snacks along the way of fruit (bananas, apples, oranges), nuts, raisins and dehydrated fava beans (not the tastiest, but good for some protein).

What kinds of foods do you like to take for hiking or camping trips? Let me know below – I always like getting new ideas 🙂


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