Hiking Huayna Picchu

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain is the famous mountain on the northern end of Machu Picchu
  • The hike is limited in number of visitors; 400 people daily divided into two groups
  • Two time windows for this hike; 7.00am and 10.00am (200 visitors per time window)
  • Tickets for Huayna Picchu sell out for most day and months in advance
  • The cost for the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu ticket is 200 Soles (US$62) per person

Huayna Picchu is the name given to the granite mountain that towers over Machu Picchu on the northern end of the site, carved on all ends by the Vilcanote River running around it. It is literally the end of Machu Picchu and due to its location a unique viewing point of the valley below and the surrounding forests. Its location is probably also one of the reasons the Inca saw the importance of this mountain and honored it with the construction of the Temple of the Moon on top as well as some impossible terraces that were actually used to grow crops. If you lay eyes on this huge granite rock you would think it is impossible to get to the top, let alone that an actual path and large staircases run up and down this mountain. This made Huayna Picchu obtain an almost mythical status and became an attraction on its own. This led the government to limit the number of visitors to 400 daily in order to diminish the damage done by the sheer number of visitors going up and down over this path and staircases. These 400 daily visitors are divided into two groups of 200 and have two time windows to start the hike; either between 7.00 and 8.00am or between 10.00 and 11.00am. The time of the hike depends on the Machu Picchu entrance tickets you have purchased - these are the so called Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu tickets. As there are only 400 available these tickets do sell out for most days and this several months in advance. The cost for this ticket is 200 Soles (approx. US$62). The hike starts more or less halfway of Circuit 1, on the northern end of Machu Picchu.

From the entrance it will take 1-1.5 hours to get to the starting point, depending on the number of people present at the time. As the entrance times are now also being fixed, the visitors for Huayna Picchu are allowed to enter the site three times; 6.00am, 7.00am and 8.00am. The first two for the first time window and the third for the second window. It must also be noted that the tickets for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu allow for a re-entrance in case you would need to use the restroom. This allows you to enter twice to the site in order to first do the mandatory circuit and next the hike but keep in mind that you will have to follow the mandatory route again in order to get to the starting point. At the entrance of the hike there is a checkpoint that checks your ticket and where you have to register. The hike itself, depending on your level of fitness, takes anywhere from an hour to three hours to climb and about half of this to come back down. From the checkpoint the hike starts and the first part is flat and even going down a little bit. This, till you reach the foot of this granite giant and here things are starting to move upward. The first part is still a path, steep at parts but still wide enough for the people coming down to cross without too many issues (the way down is the same as the way up for most parts). Then things get a little steeper and there are some ropes involved that can assist with the ascending. The final part is getting more rocky and here one has to go through man made tunnels and incredibly steep staircases, some colliding with sheer drops, several hundreds of meters into the abyss. Here crossing with those coming from the opposite direction may be a little more precarious.

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