The Hike to Huayna Picchu Mountain

Overview

Huayna Picchu is a tough hike that you shouldn’t miss. Be sure to make reservations way (months) ahead of time. Tickets are mandatory and fill up fast. If you wait until your visit, it will be too late. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this hike is the 360-degree view from the summit, which overlooks the Inca ruins, the snaking Wilkamayu (Urubamba) River, and the lush mountainous landscape. We highly recommend it

Note: Huayna Picchu mountain is closed due to covid 19 until further notice. This is because there is only one trail to the mountain that is used to go and back. Therefore there is a risk of contagion among tourists.

What is huayna picchu

Huayna Picchu or Wayna Picchu which means “Young Peak” is the large Mountain that is commonly seen in pictures as the background of the ruins in every classic picture of Machu Picchu.

Huayna Picchu Mountain
View of the Inca City of Machu Picchu from the Huayna Picchu Mountain

Trail Option to Hike to Huayna Picchu

Short Trail

This trail is very steep. This path is approximately 50-60 minutes up and then another 40 minutes down. After registering at the check point, you will follow the trail for approximately 10 minutes until you get at the base of Huayna Picchu, then you will start the 40-minute ascent up 750 stone steps to the summit of Huayna Picchu, overlooking the Urubamba River and Machu Picchu citadel in all its glory.

After climbing all Huayna Picchu stairs up until the summit, you will encounter small and narrow tunnel which you will cross on your hands and knees. 

Full Trail

The full trail is a nice loop with fewer crowds. It is for those people who have the time and fitness to finish this amazing hike. You are going to also be able to explore the Moon Temple, which is an unparalleled Inca ruin to visit, located in a cave. It is a more challenging hike than the short trail as you are looking at 3 hours and 30 minutes for the path up. The trail starts at the split and follows the side of the mountain around to the Moon Temple. The long trail is a full loop around Huayna Picchu Mountain before you climb the stairs to the summit of Huayna Picchu.

hiking to huayna picchu mountain
The final part of the trail is steep

Learn in detail what  Huayna Picchu mountain offers:

  • Restrictions: Only for over 12 years of age.
  • Height : 2,720 metes/ 8,923 feet.
  • Altitude Gain: 340 m/ 1,115 feet.
  • Location: Situated directly to the North of the ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • Trail Description: The trails are quite steep, The path narrows towards the upper section of the trail and goes up steep staircases and past stone ruins clinging to cliff precipices. There are handrails and ropes to grab onto for extra support, but it’s a scary experience for anyone with a fear of heights.
  • Height to climb from Machu Picchu:  353 meters /1,158 feet.
  • Height to climb from Moon temple: 420 meters / 1,401 feet.
  • Access: From the Inca City of Machu Picchu, through the Sector de las Huayranas (Sacred Rock). Here you will find a small shack with a gate to access the Waynapicchu mountain.
  • Archaeological Attractions: Terraces and the unparalleled Temple of the Moon, built inside a natural cave and a tunnel
  • Advantages: the Inca structures by the cliff blow your mind and the amazing mountain environment where it is located.
  • Disadvantages: steep ascent, narrow roads.
  • A number of visitors: 400 tourists per day.
  • Schedules :
    • First Group : Machu Picchu from 6 am / Huayna Picchu from 7 am – 8 am
    • Second Group : Machu Picchu from 7 am / Huayna Picchu from 7 am to 8 am
    • Third Group : Machu Picchu from 8 am / Huayna Picchu from 10.30 am to 11.30 am
  • Walking Time
    • Short Trail: 2 hours roughly (round trip)
    • Full trail: 3 hours and 30 minutes roughly (round trip)
  • Difficulty. It is a steep mountain, with cliffs and many steps (not recommended if you suffer from vertigo).
    • Short trail: Moderate – Difficult
    • Full Trail:  Difficult
  • Walking distance.
    • Short trail: 2km / 1.2 miles.
    • Full Trail:5 km/2.7 miles.

 Cost 

The cost of a Huayna Picchu mountain permit is 200PEN (soles) or US$65 (£40) – this includes the entrance fee to Machu Picchu which is currently 152PEN. In effect, the cost of a Huayna Picchu permit is 48PEN or US$15. Students with a valid international student card pay half price.

moon temple located in Huayna Picchu
Temple of the Moon in the Huayna Picchu

 Climb Times (7 am or 10:30 am?) 

There are pros and cons to both times. The 7 am time is a cooler time in the day, particularly during the dry season(April to November), when temperatures can get quite hot by the time the 2nd group departs. However, in the rainy season(December to March), there is a higher possibility of encountering mist in the early mornings which can entirely obscure the view from the summit of Huayna Picchu. On a sunny day though, the early morning view is gorgeous.

The trail to the mountain is quieter early in the morning. You do not have to contend with anyone coming down off the mountain and there is only a small group of persons at the mountaintop at any given time.

Hikers using the later time often get the summit and have to deal with big groups as many persons from the first time slot hang around for greater views.

We recommend the 2nd time slot as it gives you a chance to visit Machu Picchu before many visitors from Cusco arrive, also lower the possibility of encountering mist which can completely negate the purpose of hiking Huayna Picchu. In addition, by the time you hike down to Machu Picchu, many visitors have already left for lunch.

Useful Information to hike to Huayna Picchu

  • There are some areas that are exposed to steep drops, so caution should be taken all over the hike, keeping an adequate distance between hikers in front and behind you. Especially in the rainy season when the trail is wet.
  • Dont forget to bring your original passport, as this is going to be cross-checked against your entrance permit to the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Mountain.
  • Your Huayna Picchu ticket should allow you into Machu Picchu to go across to the trail head of Huayna Picchu, allow your climb and then allow you to exit and reenter Machu Picchu when you are done. This allows you to exit, use the  bathroom and re-enter after your climb.
  • Be sure to use the bathroom before hiking to Huayna Picchu. There are no bathrooms inside and peeing on a tree is not tolerable.
  • There are some beautiful views looking down on Machu Picchu on your way up. Make sure to look around while you hike.
  • The hike for the most part is in the shade if taken in the morning hours. There is not much shade on top. 
  • Bring 2 liters of water per person.

Huayna Picchu Mountain trail

Alternatives to Hike Huayna Picchu Mountain

If you can’t make it in time or the tickets are already sold out for Huayna Picchu, here are 3 just as amazing alternatives to climbing Huayna Picchu.

  1. Machu Picchu Mountain
  2.  Sun Gate
  3.  Inca Bridge