Complete travel guide to Machu Picchu mountain

Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu Mountain, also known as Montaña Vieja or Cerro Machu Picchu, is the highest mountain in the area surrounding the citadel of Machu Picchu with 3082 meters high and is located in the District of Machu Picchu in the Province of Urubamba in the Cusco Region. This mountain rises in the southern region of the citadel of Machu Picchu.

The names Machu and Picchu derive from the Quechua: Machu (old or big) and Picchu (high) (mountain). Hence, the name Machu Picchu translates as “great mountain” or “ancient mountain”. It is common that a lot of people confuse the mountain Machu Picchu with the citadel Machu Picchu is important to emphasize that they are not the same.

In order to start your journey to the Machu_Picchu mountain you need a special entrance ticket that is not always guaranteed with your regular tour ticket for the citadel, check this with your guide or the travel company that provides the tour.

MachuPicchu Mountain, or Old Mountain, is the highest mountain in the MachuPicchu area. An additional entrance fee is required and must be booked in advance as space is limited. The visit to the MachuPicchu citadel does not require the tourist to walk to this mountain; this section is optional and requires an additional ticket to the citadel.

What are the entrance hours to Machu Picchu Mountain?

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

To enter Machu Picchu Mountain (Machu Picchu Picchu Mountain), you must book your entrance ticket in advance as they tend to sell out quickly, depending on the season. You can choose two different shifts to tour this mountain. However, you should first consider the type of excursion you will be participating in before booking the entrance to the mountain.

The Machu Picchu Mountain tickets will allow you to enter Machu Picchu twice. In the first one, you will enter the upper part of Machu Picchu, where the best views are found and where the classic photo of the wonder is taken; after you finish touring Machu Picchu Mountain, you will be able to enter Machu Picchu again, this time to explore Circuit 3.

First shift to the Mountain (7:00 am-8:00 am)

The first shift is the best option for people who spent the night in Aguas Calientes. You must first board the buses that will take you on your first schedule to Machu Picchu and ascend to the top of the mountain before sunrise. From the top of the mountain, you can see how Machu Picchu slowly fills with people. If you opt for this option, the total cost of Machu Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Citadel will be USD 75. But it is important to emphasize that there is a drawback: after a 3 hour round trip hike to this summit, there is a possibility that the visitor will be too tired to continue his 2 to 3 hour guided tour of Machu Picchu.

When you opt for this option, you must enter the citadel of Machu Picchu between 6:00 and 7:00 am. It is a 25-minute walk from the main gate to the checkpoint. Once the hike is finished, you can re-enter Machu Picchu from the lower part (Circuit 3).

Second Shift to the Mountain (8:00 am to 9:00 am)

The second shift, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., allows the entrance of 200 people; this is ideal for people who arrive at Machu Picchu after doing the Short Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle or Train Tours. You must first explore the Machu Picchu Citadel before ascending the mountain. It will take about 3 hours in total.

The path to Machu Picchu Mountain is more complicated due to its long hike and altitude in relation to Huayna Picchu Mountain. Many believe that Huayna Picchu is a better alternative, so it is quickly exhausted. Many people consider that the location of Machu Picchu Mountain offers a better experience because at its summit you get a 360 degree view of the entire Machu Picchu area.

Beginning the climb, it consists of a steep ascent with a moderate slope. The ascent becomes more complicated as you continue through it. Culminating the hike you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the magnificent fortress of Machu Picchu seen below this summit. It is important to always take precautions to avoid accidents.

Physical condition is not an exceptional requirement, a person with an average physical condition can climb without difficulty in approximately an hour and a half, for which the visitor is not rushed and is allowed to take the time and breaks needed.


It is not recommended to hike this mountain if your tour is the 4-day Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, unless you take a private tour. In that case, you will climb this mountain first and then visit Machu Picchu. If your trip offers you an extra day in Aguas Calientes after the Inca Trail, you can climb this mountain and return to Cusco the next day. Machu Picchu Mountain tickets allow you to re-enter Machu Picchu but only for the shorter circuit called “CIRCUIT 3 OR LOWER ENTRANCE”. How difficult is it to climb the mountain?

How much does the entrance ticket cost?

Tickets for the citadel and MachuPicchu Mountain must be purchased together, including the MachuPicchu Circuit 3, which has a cost of 75.USD per person. The visitor must take into account the schedule of their guided tour before booking any time when participating in a tour. If your tour is with a tour company, it is best to contact them and ask them to guide you to book the best time to fit your schedule.

Below you will find the recommended schedule depending on the tour you book.

The Classic Inca Trail 4 days 3 nights

The Classic Inca Trail + Machu Picchu Mountain combination is not recommended because you may not have enough time to successfully complete both tours. It is possible, and we have had previous guests complete Machu Picchu citadel and the mountain, but because the guided tour also demands a great deal of time you may be required to omit part of it to complete the hike to Machu Picchu Mountain. We recommend booking Machu Picchu Mountain only if you wish to stay an extra day in Aguas Calientes; you can then re-enter Machu Picchu the following day and hike up the mountain.

The entrance ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain + Machu Picchu Circuit 3 costs $75. The Inca Trail permit will allow you to enter Machu Picchu Picchu. However, it will be necessary to book a new entrance again to climb Machu Picchu Mountain.

The Short Inca Trail 2 days 1 night

The Short Inca Trail + Machu Picchu Mountain is precise and recommended. First you will have to participate in the guided visit to the citadel as part of your regular tour; then, you will leave Machu Picchu and you will have to enter again and then take the 25-minute walk to the entrance of Machu Picchu Mountain. Once you complete the 2 to 3 hours exploring Machu Picchu with your tour guide, you will have to look for the entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain and enter in the second shift from 9:00 to 10:00 am.

The cost of the entrance ticket to MachuPicchu Mountain is $75. The short Inca Trail permit will allow you to enter Machu Picchu. However, to climb Machu Picchu Mountain, you need to book a new entrance ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain + Machu Picchu Picchu Circuit 3.

Alternative treks to Machu Picchu Picchu

Salkantay Trekking

This group includes the; Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trek, Alternative Inca Trail, Huchuy Qosqo Trek, Quarry Trek, and other treks that involve spending the previous night in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo).

The next morning, after spending the night in Aguas Calientes, you will take the early buses up to the citadel and gain access to Machu Picchu through the main checkpoint. You must first explore the citadel, especially on a group tour. After spending 2 to 3 hours with your tour guide visiting MachuPicchu, you should find the entrance to MachuPicchu Mountain and join the second shift between 8:00 and 9:00 am.

After entering the Machu Picchu Mountain trail, you will have until noon to complete the hike: ascend to the summit (2 hours), descend by the same route, depart back to the citadel of Machu Picchu, explore more of the citadel, take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and return to your hotel or train station.

To follow the previously mentioned itinerary, you must first reserve the earliest access to Machu Picchu (6 a.m. or 7 a.m. without additional trekking; 50 USD). To then purchase the MachuPicchu mountain between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Please note that you must make sure to enter the mountain at the specified time.

It is possible to purchase only one ticket. You will still have to climb and complete the Machu Picchu mountain before continuing the 2 to 3 hour tour of Machu Picchu, but only the lower half, missing out on the spectacular views of Machu Picchu from the top. If you purchase a single ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain, you will need to add $35 to the price of your trip.

Train travel from Cusco

Traveling by train is also a unique experience, the visitor will enjoy the tremendous views of the Andes during his trip. There are mainly two ways to visit Machu Picchu by train. The first one is a full day tour from Cusco city, the train is taken from Cusco or Ollantaytambo very early (from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.), you will arrive to Aguas Calientes, then you will board the bus to Machu Picchu and explore the Citadel. To climb MachuPicchu mountain, you should always reserve the last shift from 8 to 9 a.m. and climb the mountain before the guided tour.

Another option is the overnight tours in Aguas Calientes: If you plan to spend the night in Aguas Calientes and visit MachuPicchu the next day, the recommendation is to take a guided tour of the citadel and then climb the mountain. For this, you will need the double ticket option.

Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu Mountain

Machu Picchu

What is the best time of day to hike?

Whether on a group tour or with a private guide, these are the recommended options.

Private tours to Machu Picchu

You can hike up MachuPicchu Mountain first and then meet your guide for your guided tour, so you can explore the citadel. You can also ask your tour guide to climb the mountain. However, this comes at an additional cost, as the guided tour of Machu Picchu only includes the citadel. If this is your plan, you will only need one ticket, and the cost is 75 USD in total.

Group tours to Machu Picchu

If you are part of a group tour, the single ticket option is not for you. Guided group tours are always in the morning, when Machu Picchu is not crowded. After exploring Machu Picchu, you can climb the mountain on your own. For this option you need 2 tickets; 1 for Machu Picchu early entrance (50. USD) and another one for Machu Picchu + Mountain (75. USD). You do not need a tour guide to climb Machu Picchu Mountain.

What time of the year is better to visit Machu Picchu Picchu Mountain?

The location of the citadel of Machu Picchu belongs to what is known as tropical cloud forest in the warm and humid upper Amazon. MachuPicchu is located on top of a high mountain of complex access and cannot be seen from the bottom. In addition, the area is covered in fog and clouds most of the year. Tourists tend to visit Machu Picchu throughout the year, and even with intense sun, clouds or rain, the destination remains one of Cusco’s quintessential destinations, its views and the tourist experience that the visitor takes away are exceptional regardless of the time of year they visit.

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind when visiting Machu Picchu. The dry season is from May to October and little rain is expected, however, it is always advisable to bring rain gear, as the weather can change in a matter of minutes. This specific season is very busy for visitors, especially from June to September, when there will be long lines for buses, entrance to the citadel of Machu Picchu and trains to and from the citadel.

The wet season is from November to April; rain is expected mainly early in the morning, and the sun will rise around 9 to 10 a.m. However, in the cloud forest where the citadel is located, the weather is unpredictable and it is always best to be cautious and prepare for sun, rain and cold. The best time to visit MachuPicchu and hike MachuPicchu Mountain are the months of April, May, September, October and November.

How high is the mountain?

MachuPicchu Mountain is the highest mountain in the area at 3082 meters (10111 feet). The hike has its Indian at the citadel of Machu Picchu, located at 2430 meters (7972 feet). To reach the top of the MachuPicchu mountain, it takes at least 3 hours between the outward and return.

Where is it located and how to get there?

Machu Picchu Mountain is located southwest of the citadel, and the entrance is at the top of Machu Picchu, near the Guardian’s House. After passing the checkpoint, go up towards the Guardian’s House three times on the left side until you reach the main path that leads to the Sun Gate (Intipunku). Continue walking along this path until you find a sign to the right pointing to the mountain. You will see long stairs going up until you reach the checkpoint. The total walking time from the main entrance of Machu Picchu to the checkpoint from where you will start climbing the mountain is about 25 minutes.

Is Machu Picchu a mountain?

The citadel of Machu Picchu and the mountain, also known as Montaña Vieja or Cerro Machu Picchu, are not the same: the citadel of Machu Picchu is an archaeological site. Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain are additional treks that explore the mountains themselves as seen from the citadel, for these additional sections you need to obtain a permit and ticket in advance.

Is the mountain dangerous?

The trail consists of a steep climb with stone stairs, you should always be careful with your hike, follow the signage obediently and respect the advice of your tour guide.

Is it worth the climb up the mountain?

During your hike up the mountain the sun is intense and you may wander in the middle of the trail wondering “why am I doing this?” because it is not an easy or simple route to walk. Your question will be answered the moment you reach the top of the mountain and have a fantastic view of MachuPicchu, the Inca Trail and the surrounding mountains.

What are the entrance times to Machu Picchu Mountain?

  • First Shift: You can enter Machu Picchu at 6 a.m. and Machu Picchu Mountain from 7 to 8 a.m.
  • Second Shift: You can enter Machu Picchu at 7 a.m. and Mountain from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Tips for the Machu Picchu mountain hike

  • Choose an early time to start your hike, this way you will avoid the heat and crowds.
  • Always carry plenty of water and snacks to keep you energized during the hike.
  • Don’t overexert your body, take regular breaks to catch your breath and enjoy the views at your leisure.
  • Be aware that some sections are steep and somewhat complicated, but know that the reward is worth it.
  • Do not skip the respective signage and walk only on the trail at all times to help protect this fragile ecosystem.
  • When you reach the top, take a moment to enjoy the incredible views of Machu Picchu.

What to bring for the excursion

It is recommended that you bring plenty of water, snacks, comfortable walking shoes, warm weather clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent and rain gear. Also, be sure to bring a camera to capture the breathtaking views.

Weather in Machu Picchu

When hiking Machu Picchu mountain, check the weather forecast. The mountain can be treacherous and much more complicated in bad weather, with strong winds and rain making the rocky sections slippery. Be forewarned and take into account the previous recommendations.

Flora in Machu Picchu

When hiking Machu Picchu mountain, you will be rewarded with some of the most impressive flora views in the world. The mountain is home to an incredible variety of plant life, including many rare and endangered species generally composed of orchids and flowers.

Fauna at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is home to a variety of animals, including several species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The most common bird species are the Andean condor, black vultures, eagles, hawks and owls. Among the mammals are the Andean cat, fox and llama. Among the reptiles, snakes and lizards.

The temperature during the day

The average temperature in Machu Picchu oscillates between 20ºC (68 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the temperature can rise between 50 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to pack clothing for all weather conditions when hiking Machu Picchu.


Popularly known by hiking fanatics, Machu Picchu Mountain is one of the best known and best enjoyed destinations for visitors and connoisseurs. The views from the top pleasantly reward your trek, and the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing the hike is incomparable to other feelings. If you are thinking of tackling the mountain, follow this comprehensive guide to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

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