At the beginning of time, two Apus (mountain gods) fell in love. The Pichu Pichu volcano was head over heels for his beautiful neighbor, the Chachani volcano. The other gods were against their love and sent a stone guard named Misti to remain in between them so that they could not see each other.
Pichu Pichu was so furious that he tried to curse the gods but Pachamama (Mother Earth) created a huge storm and Pichu Pichu got so scared that he fell on his back and into an eternal sleep. His sleeping silhouette can be seen to this day from any point in the city of Arequipa, enclosed by these three volcanos.
Chachani, an indigenous word for “brave”, invites brave hikers to reach its summit,over 6000 meters above sea level. Good climate and relatively easy access make Chachani the easiest 6000 meter mountain in the world to be climbed.
Having left the city behind, the wild Andean camelids of the pampa skirting the volcano welcome you to the journey. A half-day drive and one-hour hike along a rough dirt path under the intense sun rays lead you to the base camp at around 5100 meters. As the adventure starts at the beginning of the next day −at one in the morning to be precise− it is necessary to rest here.
The all-night ascent is challenging but is guaranteed to be well worth it. You will face temperatures as low as twenty degrees below freezing, strong winds, and a slippery axe path. Despite this, little by little the rocky ground will be replaced by ice, a sign that you are about to succeed! By dawn, you will arrive at the snowy crater, just in time to see the top of the sun reaching the horizon and illuminating everything around, uncovering from darkness the bottom city, and the summit of the volcanos caressing the sky.
It is a once in a lifetime experience that literally takes your breath away and fills you with gratitude to Pachamama for the greatness of the creation. This is why at the very top some local offerings can be found.
The towering volcano is also well respected by the population for providing sillar, the white volcanic stone famously used as the main building material. Chachani bequeathed the sillar to this land when erupting millions of years ago giving thus Arequipa its identity as “The white city”.
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|Ara was born and raised in Peru. Since she was a little girl, she has written skillfully and always loved to travel. In recent years, he has worked in translation studios and in the travel industry. Ara says her work is a passion and a way of life, which is also reflected in the Peru-themed "virtual travel" articles for Classy.|