Trek Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu?

The age-old question: Should I trek Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain? Both of these Machu Picchu treks are located within the Machu Picchu complex and require a special ticket to climb, meaning this is one travel decision you will have to make long in advance of your Machu Picchu tour. In this blog post, we share a few tips on how to choose between these two spectacular Machu Picchu hikes. Your first tip: Read this article all the way through before choosing your Machu Picchu trekking adventure.

Machu Picchu Mountain 

Quick Facts:

Altitude at Summit: 3,082 m.a.s.l. (10,111 ft.)

Time to Summit: Approx. 1.5 hours

Pro: The best view of Machu Picchu, less crowded

Con: Can take up to 4 hours to climb


Machu Picchu Mountain is an undeservedly overlooked Machu Picchu hiking option and the trek you’ll most likely find still has tickets available the day before your Machu Picchu tour. Its scenic trail zigzags through high cloud forest and the occasional patch of orchids, begonias, and ferns. The first hour of the ascent is a gradual climb that steepens, narrows, and grows increasingly more challenging as you near the final ascent to the summit. As the tallest mountain around, the view from the top is unparalleled. Think 360-degree panoramic views of Machu Picchu, Wayna Picchu, and the surrounding Putucusi Mountains, with the mighty Urubamba River seemingly just a line far below.


Huayna Picchu Mountain

Quick Facts:

Altitude at Summit: 2,720 m.a.s.l. (8,920 ft.)

Time to Summit: Approx. 45 minutes

Pro: A quick climb that can be completed in 1.5 to 2 hours

Con: Perilously steep and narrow nearly the entire way, crowded

Huayna Picchu Mountain is the peak that rises behind the ruins in every classic photo of Machu Picchu. During the time of the Incas, the high priest and chosen virgins resided on Huayna Picchu’s summit, descending the mountain daily at sunrise to signal the coming of the new day.  Once you’ve trekked the mountain’s steep terrain and walked its cliff-hugging narrow trails yourself, you’ll acquire a newfound admiration for the Incan high priests. Today, we have the luxury of handrails and ropes to cling on to for support as we ascend and descend the mountain’s near vertical face. That being said, we do not recommend this Machu Picchu hike for those suffering from vertigo or who have a severe fear of heights.

Are there any other Machu Picchu hiking options?

Glad you asked! The answer is yes. There are several free treks within the Machu Picchu complex that are included in your general admission ticket to Machu Picchu. The first is the Sun Gate hike, a rigorous, but manageable, climb along an Inca-laid stone path that leads to the original entrance of Machu Picchu. The Sun Gate is how those trekking the Inca Trail arrive to Machu Picchu. The views at the site are nearly as breathtaking as any you’d find while trekking Machu Picchu Mountain or Wayna Picchu. Your second free Machu Picchu trekking option is the short 20-minute hike to the Inca Bridge, the Inca’s secret entrance to Machu Picchu that lay perched against a sheer cliff face. Though you can’t cross the bridge for safety reasons, you are welcome to snap as many photos as you wish.

Choose Explorandes as your Machu Picchu Tour Operator

For more information about trekking Machu Picchu’s many mountains and viewpoints, get in touch with us today!

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