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Climbing Machu Picchu Mountain

There’s no denying the 3 to 4-hour hike up Machu Picchu Mountain is tiring, But the views from the top more than make up for the exertion…

What is Machu Picchu Mountain?

Day visitors to Machu Picchu can choose between a regular entry ticket or a ticket that includes hiking to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (in Spanish it’s known Montaña Machu Picchu or Cerro Machu Picchu). At a shade over 10,000ft, Machu Picchu Mountain is the highest point in the ruins precinct and it affords those who make the effort with incomparable views of Macchu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu are on opposite sides of the ruins.

Huayna Picchu versus Machu Picchu Mountain

If your legs allow it, hiking up one of these two peaks is highly recommended. But which one will it be?

Huayna Picchu is much more popular among visitors, and despite the fact that only 400 visitors are allowed to hike the trail every day it can get rather busy. Although the ascent is shorter (1 – 1.5-hours) it is much steeper and scarier than Macchu Picchu Mountain, and it’s definitely not recommended for people who’re afraid of heights. The views aren’t as good as those from Machu Picchu Mountain.

Machu Picchu Mountain is not as busy, so it’s perfect for people who’re after a more intimate experience in nature. Although the trail is not as steep as the Huayna Picchu trail it still involves walking up fairly steep steps, at altitude, for between 3 and 4 hours. The views from the top of Macchu Picchu mountain are so incredible that Huayna Picchu is reduced to a small hillock way down below.

The nitty gritty

Regardless of your fitness levels, hiking up Machu Picchu mountain will definitely get your heart rate up. We’d advise getting a good night’s rest before embarking on the hike, and doing a fairly thorough stretch at the trailhead. Your guide will accompany you every step of the way, and he’ll walk at a pace that suits you/your group.

What to bring

Bring the same kind of stuff you’d bring on any strenuous dayhike. Water, snacks, sun-cream, some warm clothing and a rain-jacket. Don’t forget your camera, and be sure to pack spare batteries and memory cards – the views up top are pretty spectacular, so you’re going to want to preserve them for posterity.

Mahu Picchu: (Photo: McKay Savage)

The essence of the experience

While the view from the top is most likely your main reason for doing the hike, you’d be foolish not to enjoy the hike itself. Instead of focusing on how exhausted you are, why not think about the people who built the steps all those centuries ago? Take the time to savor the unique atmosphere of a high-altitude rainforest and maybe even bring a bird book along to help you identify a few exotic species.

Watch the video

What better way to get a feel for the hike than to watch a video of real people doing it? Just bear in mind that the entire 4-hour ascent has been condensed into a little over a minute!


The verdict

We would highly recommend Machu Picchu Mountain to anyone who is fit enough for the challenge. It’s an extra-special opportunity for guests who’re not doing the Inca Trail, as it gives them a chance to hike in the Andes on paths made by Incas.

And the views from the top ain’t bad either…

View from Machu Picchu (Photo: Killy Ridols)

Keen to see Machu Picchu for yourself? Check out our Machu Picchu & Peru itineraries here or speak to one of our Destination Experts about crafting the bespoke vacation of your dreams.

 Credit to Green Lantern for the cover image of this post and to Soaljack for the video.


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