The 15 highest volcanoes in South America

*Review of the best according to the editors. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective, not intended as an advertisement and does not serve as a guide to purchase. You should consult a specialist before buying.

Volcanoes are a specific type of geological formation on the surface of the Earth’s lithosphere, where magma has an outlet to the surface, resulting in the release of lava, ash, and steam. The word “volcano” itself is derived from the name of the god of fire in the mythology of ancient Rome. There are active and extinct volcanoes. The first are those formations which have been active at least once during the human history. But most volcanoes belong to the second type, because they stopped their activity tens of thousands or even millions of years ago. The youngest of them are located mostly in the middle of the Cordillera Andes mountain system in western South America. A lot of these volcanic peaks reach dizzying heights. Let’s find out which South American volcanoes are the highest.

South America’s tallest volcanoes

South America’s highest volcanoes1Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas6173 METERS
2San Pedro6,145 meters
3Aucanquilcha6176 meters
4Pular6,233 meters
5Chimborazo6,310 meters
6Ampato6,288 meters
7Parinacota6348 meters
8Tupungato6,565 meters
9Incahuasi6621 meters
10Coropuna6,677 meters
11Sahama6,542 meters
12Llullaillaco6,739 meters
13Nevado Tres Cruces6,749 meters
14Monte Pissis6,795 meters
15Ojos del Salado6,893 meters

15th place – Sierra Nevada de Lagunas-Bravas

Rating: 3.6

Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas

The Sierra Nevada de Lagunas-Bravas volcanic complex is located on the border between the Argentine province of Catamarca and the Chilean province of Atacama in a remote area of the Central Andes. Due to the inaccessibility of the region, it has so far remained little explored. The total area of the complex is about 225 square kilometers. Most of it was formed during the Holocene epoch from the ignimbritic eruption products of. The highest point of the volcanic dome complex is at an altitude of 6173 meters.

14th place – San Pedro

Rating: 3.7

San Pedro

One of the highest active volcanoes in the world, with a peak of 6,145 meters, located near the Atacama Desert, in northern Chile. In its valley flows the Loa, Chile’s longest river, 440 kilometers long. San Pedro is a stratovolcano; the cone was formed by andesite lava flows. A high saddle connects it to the west with San Pablo Volcano, 6,092 meters high. The first ascent to the crater was made in 1903 by French climber George Corty, accompanied by Chilean guide Filemon Morales. The volcano is turbulent: it has been active seven times in the past century, most recently erupting in 1960. At the moment the giant is dormant, emitting toxic fumes from time to time, which does not stop tourists coming from all over the world to climb to the top of San Pedro.

13th place – Aucanquilcha

Rating: 3.8


The Aucanquilcha stratovolcano in Chile’s Antofagasta region is part of a nine-kilometer long range of 20 volcanoes. It rises 1,250 meters above the surrounding terrain, and its altitude reaches 6,176 meters. Volcanic formation in this region began about 11 million years ago, with the last eruption of Aucanquilcha occurring in the late Pleistocene. During the twentieth century it was home to the mining village of. Workers extracting sulfur in a mine inside the slope lived permanently at an altitude of five and a half thousand meters. After the mine was mined, the village was abandoned and the roads were eventually washed away by landslides. Today the volcano, while remaining dormant, exhibits significant fumarolic activity, that is, the release of hot gases through cracks.

12th place – Pular

Rating: 3.9


The large stratovolcano Pular is located in northern Chile, about 15 kilometers from the Argentine border. Together with Mt. Cerro Payonales it forms a high volcanic ridge about 12 kilometers long. The summit of Pular rises 6,233 meters above sea level. The Payones Pular Massif is formed by dacite and andesite rocks, with a total area of more than 300 square kilometers.

11th Place – Chimborazo

Rating: 4.0


Chimborazo is an extinct volcano 6,310 meters high, the highest point in Ecuador. The last eruption is thought to have been in 400-700 A.D. It is part of the Cordillera Occidental range, which belongs to the Ecuadorian Andean mountain system. It is located 150 kilometers from Quito, the capital. At the foot of the volcano flows the Guayas River. The ice covering the top of the volcano has long been a source of water for nearby communities. Ice was also mined to cool food in the hot climate, since for many people in Ecuador’s provincial towns and villages a refrigerator was a luxury item until a few decades ago. Now, the ice cover has decreased significantly due to global warming. The first ascent of the volcano was made in 1880. Curious fact – when you measure the height of Chimborazo from the center of the Earth, it would be several kilometers higher than Everest.

10th place – Ampato

Rating: 4.1


Tupungato volcano is located in southern Peru, about a hundred kilometers northwest of the city of Arequipa. Its altitude is 6,288 meters. It belongs to a complex called Sabancaya, consisting of three dormant stratovolcanoes. In winter the summit is covered by a cap of snow. The volcano is famous because on its slopes, in 1995, an expedition led by American archaeologist Joan Reinhardt discovered the perfectly preserved body of an Inca 13-year-old girl in the ice. Dating back to the mid-15th century A.D. It seems that the “Ampato Lady,” as archaeologists call her, was sacrificed to the Incan gods by her fellow countrymen to pacify a volcano that had gone wild. During further research on the slopes of Ampato, scientists found three more similar bodies.

9th place – Parinacota

Rating: 4.2


The dormant Parinacota volcano is located in Lauca National Park, near the border between Chile and Bolivia. Together with the Pomerape volcano, it forms the Payachata Complex of the Western Cordillera. Parinacota reaches a height of 6,348 meters and its crater is 300 meters wide. One of the volcano’s most powerful eruptions, about eight thousand years ago, released six cubic kilometers of red-hot lava that blocked river channels to the west, which in turn created the high-altitude Lake Chungara.

8th place – Tupungato

Rating: 4.3


A 6565-meter-high volcano in Argentina’s Mendoza province, 65 kilometers east of the city of Santiago. The Tupungato volcano was formed during the Pleistocene epoch as a result of the collision between the Nazca plate and the South American plate. The volcano is still active today, with the latest eruption occurring in 1986. Despite the danger, its peak has long attracted climbers. It was first successfully climbed in 1897 by a team led by Matthias Zübriggen. Also associated with the volcano is the crash of a passenger plane that crashed into a glacier on the slope and was buried by an avalanche for 50 years, until in 1998 a group of climbers discovered its remains under a thickness of snow.

7th place – Incahuasi

Rating: 4.4


Incahuasi Volcano is located in Argentina’s Catamarca province, in the eastern part of the Atacama desert. It is 6,621 meters high and its caldera is three and a half kilometers wide. The volcano served as a center for god worship during Inca times, as evidenced by the archaeological artifacts found on its slopes. Today it attracts numerous climbing expeditions because it is considered the most beautiful volcanic complex in the region.

6 Coropuna

Rating: 4.5


Coropuna is the highest volcano in Peru, at 6,377 meters above sea level. Located 150 kilometers northwest of the city of Arequipa and 110 kilometers from the Pacific coast. Stratovolcano formed during the Pliocene period, several million years ago, and remained active during the Holocene. Geologists were able to determine the latter fact by analyzing the frozen lava flows and ash deposits near the base. From a height of 5300 meters the slopes are covered with snow and ice. Meltwater from the volcano is used by residents of two nearby provinces to drink and irrigate their fields. According to Peruvian Indian legends, Coropuna is considered a sacred place, and the mountain was also revered by the Incas, who made sacrifices there to the deity Apu.

5th place – Sahama

Rating: 4.6


The extinct stratovolcano Sahama is located in the Sahama National Park, about 20 kilometers from the Bolivian-Chilean border. It is 6,542 meters high. The volcano is part of the Western Cordilleras. There is sparse vegetation on the slopes, and from six thousand meters the perpetual glaciation begins. Scientists have not been able to find out the time of the last eruption of Sahama; it is assumed to have happened in the Holocene epoch.

4th place – Llullaillaco

Rating: 4.7


The volcano with the difficult-to-pronounce name Llullaillaco stands on Argentina’s Puna de Atacama plateau, near the Chilean-Argentine border. It is the highest active volcano on the planet, with an elevation of 6,739 meters above sea level. Andean Indians gave Liullaillaco the nickname “the Deceiver,” thus eloquently warning that the volcano’s outward serenity can be deceptive. It was most active in the mid 19th century and in 1877 it erupted in an explosive fashion. Now the volcano remains in the solfataric phase, manifesting itself only by emissions of steam and sulfur dioxide gases. In 1999, archaeologists made a unique find near the crater – the frozen mummies of three Inca children about five hundred years old. Two boys and a girl were victims of an ancient ritual of capacocha to propitiate the gods. Their bodies and even their clothes are perfectly preserved and the mummies are currently on display in a museum. Another interesting discovery was the discovery of the highest mammal inhabiting the slopes of Llullaillaco. It was a leaf-eared hamster that manages to survive in conditions of low oxygen (up to 45% of normal) and in temperatures of 60 degrees below zero.

3rd place – Nevado Tres Cruces

Rating: 4.8

Nevado Tres Cruces

Located along the Chilean border, the volcanic massif of Nevado Tres Cruces belongs to the Andean mountain system. It is surrounded by dry desert terrain, and nearby is Chile’s national park of the same name. The massif extends 12 kilometers in a north-south direction. Its last eruption was about 28,000 years ago. Nevado Tres Cruces has four peaks, the highest of which rises to 6,749 meters above sea level.

2nd place – Monte Pissis

Rating: 4.9

Monte Piscis

Inactive volcano in the Argentine province of La Rioja, 550 km north of the city of Aconcagua. The volcano gets its name from the geologist Pedro José Amadeo Pisa, who explored its subsurface on behalf of the national government. Its altitude is 6795 meters. The first people to conquer the peak of Monte Pissis were the climbers from Poland, Jan Szczepanski and Stefan Osiecki, in 1937. The peak has not been popular for a long time because of its inaccessibility, but the construction of mines in the region has led to the construction of roads, which in turn contributed to the development of tourism.

1st place – Ojos del Salado

Rating: 5.0

Ojos del Salado

Ojos del Salado is the highest volcano not only in South America but on the entire planet. Also 6893-meter peak is the second highest point in the Western Hemisphere (the first place belongs to Mount Aconcagua). The dormant volcano is located east of the Atacama desert near the Argentine-Chilean border. On its eastern slope is the world’s highest lake. Ojos del Salado has never erupted during the entire observation period, but minimal activity in the form of steam emissions has been repeatedly recorded throughout the twentieth century. In ancient history the volcano was worshipped by the Incas, and the remains of their sacrificial altars are still preserved on it.

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