Huayna Picchu is one of two mountains situated inside the Machu Picchu citadel. For this reason, it is a must for hikers and thrill-seekers alike wishing to add an exciting and memorable adventure to their time at Machu Picchu. Huayna Picchu, meaning “Young Peak” in Quechua is one of Machu Picchu’s signature viewpoints and from the top, you will experience privileged views across Machu Picchu and the surrounding valley. Read on for more information about Huayna Picchu Mountain!
The Peruvian government limits the amount of people who can visit Machu Picchu every year and this also goes for the hikes within Machu Picchu, both Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. The limit for the Huayna Picchu hike is 400 people per day and is divided into three entrance times:
Machu Picchu Entrance Time Huayna Picchu Entrance Time
6:00 am 7:00 am – 8:00 am
7:00 am 7:00 am – 8:00 am
After 8:00 am 10:00 am –11:00 am
The Huayna Picchu ticket is a combination ticket that allows entry to both Machu Picchu (for the tour) and Huayna Picchu (for the Huayna Picchu mountain hike)Valid for 6 hours: This time begins when you enter Machu Picchu. (If you choose to take the Machu Picchu guided tour, this lasts around 2.5 hours and the Huayna Picchu hike takes about 2–3 hours). Visitors can spend a maximum of 4 hours on the Huayna Picchu hike. The Huayna Picchu ticket allows one exit/re-entry into Machu Picchu. This is helpful if you want to hike first and then have lunch at the cafe at the Machu Picchu entrance. Lockers and restrooms are located outside of the Machu Picchu entrance, so make sure you use them if you need to before you enter the sanctuary.
After reaching the Machu Picchu entrance, you’re only a short 15-minute walk from the Huayna Picchu trailhead! Follow the signs through the archaeological site and you will end up at the Huayna Picchu checkpoint on the opposite side of the citadel. You’ll see a small hut and a Huayna Picchu map, which gives you a good idea of what to expect. Enter at your allotted time and your Huayna Picchu adventure will begin!
The hike begins at the checkpoint next to the sacred rock on the far side of the Machu Picchu citadel. At your allocated time, you present your ticket and sign in before you begin walking along the path. It begins relatively flat but quickly changes to windy ups and downs through rocky terrain and beautiful green scenery.
As you make your way toward the Huayna Pichu mountain, the trek progresses into steep switchbacks. You will most likely be hiking alongside other groups, so make sure to be courteous on the trail and let people go ahead of you if they want to pass, or politely ask to pass if you are the one walking at a faster pace. Once you’ve made it through the switchbacks, you will reach the infamous stairs.
The Stairs of Death
The Huayna Picchu “Stairs of Death” deserve their own section because of their sheer architectural magnificence. These steep steps are original stairs, built by the Incas, and date back to the 1400s. Don’t let that put you off though. The Incas were master builders and created architectural marvels with better structural integrity than many modern buildings. Looking up may be intimidating, but looking down is worse, so keep your eye on the prize. And make sure to utilize the handrails and ropes to keep you moving forward. If you feel dizzy or need a quick break, just step to the side on one of the terraces where you can take a break on the flat ground. If you’re still wondering, is Huayna Picchu dangerous? The answer is no. Not only are there guides stationed on the trail to help you, but there are also rails, ropes, and other people around you to keep you safe.
Temple of The Moon
At this point, you’ve made it through the difficult section and landed at the summit where ruins start popping up around you. This is a great time to explore around and snap your first photos. This is also the time when you need to make a choice: continue on the main trail, or take the side trail to the Temple of the Moon. The second option adds an extra 45 minutes in total but is completely worth the effort. This 1,500-year-old temple built within caves is a mystery to modern-day historians but was possibly used for rituals, sacrifices, or worship of the moon. In order to reach this area, you must follow the side path that takes you down and around the backside of the mountain and eventually winds back up to the main path that takes you back to the entrance.
If you decide to stay on the main path, you can enjoy the views from the “Throne of the Inca” that looks out over Machu Picchu. This rock formation is a perfect spot for photos and admiring the beauty of the area. You can appreciate sweeping views of mountain tops, ruins, and the winding river below. You will need to keep moving in order to prevent a “people” jam. From the viewpoint, climb down the ladder and under the “Throne” you can begin the descent.
Similar stairs that took you up will lead you down the mountain back toward the checkpoint. Descend carefully to ensure your safety and take your time, there is no need to rush. This is also a nice opportunity to take in the last views before finishing the Huayna Picchu hike. When you arrive back at the Huayna Picchu entrance, sign out and make your way to the Machu Picchu exit where you can rest up and rehydrate.
If you wish to climb the impressive Huayna Picchu mountain on your Machu Picchu trip, then let us know at the time of booking to reserve your permit. Ask here if you have any further questions about this awe-inspiring mountain climb!