One destination that is always pending among fans of traveling around the world is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World located in South America and is a truly spectacular place located between the Andes and the rainforest, we are obviously talking about the citadel of Machu Picchu. As soon as you set foot inside and contemplate the ancient citadel, you get goose bumps as you feel and wonder what it was like to live here hundreds of years ago. You see rows of terraces, fantastic architecture made of stone with no adhesives between them and impressive green hills all around. How was something so majestic built on the side of a mountain? If you go beyond the citadel itself, you can see Huayna Picchu, the mountain that dominates the site and is iconic in classic photos of the site, and you can see the Machu Picchu mountain on the other side, next to the road to the Sun Gate.
If you want to make your trip to this iconic fortress a little more special, you can take the opportunity to climb one of these additional mountains and you will receive your well-deserved reward at the top, no matter which alternative you opt for. There is an additional cost, and you will have to ask yourself if you have the energy, the courage and the motivation, especially after your guided tour. But, if you decide to do it, you will not regret taking this extra hike and will seek to repeat it as soon as you can.
In this article we will analyze the characteristics of both mountains so you can compare them and decide which one is more suited to the type of adventure you are looking for. We’ll also delve a little deeper into the facts behind each and what you need to be prepared for this extra hike.
Why climb an extra mountain in Machu Picchu?
Let’s start by answering this question that so many people have. They want to know if it’s really worth pushing their body to the limit with this extra effort. We would say it is more than worth the effort, and here is the reason why.
Crowning this mountain you will enjoy a fantastic view of the entire archaeological complex and the beautiful surrounding hills and valleys, honestly a view that leaves more than one stunned with its beauty.
It will give you an extra sense of accomplishment and will be something you will remember for a lifetime, reaching this point will generate a unique feeling of satisfaction that cannot be compared to any other experience.
You will probably only visit Machu Picchu once or twice in your life, so why not make the most of it and complement your visit by doing all the activities that fit into your itinerary?
You will get to see parts of the citadel that you wouldn’t otherwise see, and that memory will be yours alone.
There are some fantastic and unique photo opportunities at the top of both mountains.
Information about Huayna Picchu
We will start with Huayna Picchu, the most popular mountain for visitors among these additional treks. Its name means “young mountain” and it is one of the most popular short treks in the world.
The narrow trail to the top may turn back some people with a fear of heights. It is a typical Inca style trail. If you suffer from vertigo, it is not recommended that you take the hike as the height rises many, many meters above the level of the citadel and you have to advance through narrow and steep sections.
At the top there is a small archaeological building called the Temple of the Moon. Hiking Huayna Picchu is the only opportunity you will have to see it in all its splendor. It is necessary to reserve tickets months in advance to guarantee a place as there are limited spaces per day.
Facts about Huayna Picchu
Now that you know a little more about the mountain in general, let’s go deeper into the data so you can compare it with Machu Picchu mountain.
- The height of the mountain is 2,720 meters above sea level.
- The distance is 2 km of steep and narrow trails.
- It is only for hikers over 12 years old.
- It is located north of the Inca citadel.
- The trail can seem a bit complicated and daunting due to the steep climbs and narrow paths at some points of the ascent.
- You will have to pass through the Huayranas Sector (Sacred Rock) to get to the entrance of the hike where you will show your ticket.
- There are only 400 tickets available each day.
- The difficulty of the hike is relatively high due to the steepness of the slope, the numerous steps and the steep drop to which you are exposed.
- The hike up and down takes about two and a half hours.
- You will be able to see the archaeological sites of the Andenería and the Temple of the Moon.
Pros of climbing Huayna Picchu
The pros of climbing Huayna Picchu include the fact that you will get a spectacular and unique view of the site where the citadel of Machu Picchu is located and you will be able to do one of the most popular short hikes in the world.
Cons of Huayna Picchu
There are really no cons, except for the fact that it is very steep and can cause sensations of vertigo, especially if you are susceptible to feeling that way, if you opt for this hike considering the risks there are no cons.
Information about Machu Picchu Mountain
The second optional hike within the citadel is Machu Picchu Mountain. This is not visited as often as the hike to Huayna Picchu Mountain, but this peak is where many of the iconic photos are taken from, so it is an excellent place from which to get a great shot.
The ascent to this mountain is much less steep and the trail is not as scary as Huayna Picchu. Its name means “old mountain”, and it is at the foot of this mountain that the ancient Inca city was built.
It is not even necessary to reach the top to enjoy breathtaking views, and the trail is quiet enough to be enjoyed by young and old alike. There are usually tickets for this mountain available until a few days before the reserved date, but it is always good to keep in mind that they can easily sell out.
Facts about Machu Picchu Mountain
We will now summarize the facts about this hill to see how it compares to Huayna Picchu.
- The maximum altitude reached on this route is 3,082 meters above sea level.
- The distance is 2 km, but it is not too steep.
- This hike is suitable for all ages.
- This mountain is located exactly in front of the Huayna Picchu mountain.
- From the Machu Picchu complex, you will have to go to the Guardian’s House, take the detour and follow the respective signs to the entrance.
- There is plenty of vegetation along the way, and the trail is firm, making for a pleasant and easy hike for the most part.
- There are 800 places available each day.
- The hike takes about three and a half hours round trip.
- The level of difficulty is moderate.
Advantages of Machu Picchu Mountain
The advantages of this hike are mainly the terrain and the slope. It is a steady climb and easier on your body at altitude.
Machu Picchu Mountain Cons
The main negative aspect is that there are no archaeological sites to see at the top but it is rewarded with a unique view of the surrounding area.
Comparative table between both peaks
Use the following table to quickly and easily compare the two mountains.
|Comparison||Huayna Picchu Mountain||Machu Picchu Mountain|
|Altitude||2,720 masl||3,082 masl|
|Distance||2 km||2 km|
|Duration||2.5-hours uphill and downhill||3.5-hours uphill and downhill|
|Recommended age limit||12 years||No age limit|
|Way||Trail Steep, narrow, not good for vertigo.||A steady and smooth ascent|
|Spaces available||400 per day||800 per day|
|Other tourist attractions at the summit||Fantastic View/Moon Temple/Andenergy||Unique view of Machu Picchu/No additional ruins|
What to bring?
To make sure you get the most out of your hike, be sure to pack the following in your backpack for the tour.
- Sunglasses/sun hat
- Sunscreen (at least factor 50)
- Insecticide or insect repellent
- Pants and long sleeves (to protect you from bugs and insects. Thin material is a good idea so you don’t overheat.)
- Rain poncho/jacket (essential in rainy season)
- Plenty of water: you will spend a lot of heat walking uphill for so long and you will be close to the sun, so you will dehydrate easily.
- Entrance ticket (you cannot enter without it)
- Passport (also required for entry)
Frequently asked questions about Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain
Finally, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about the two mountains to help answer some of the questions you may have.
How much does it cost to climb one more mountain?
Both mountains cost the same, which includes your normal entrance fee to the citadel of Machu Picchu which is around 70 USD.
Which is the best mountain to climb?
It all depends on your personal preferences. If you are going as a family and are looking for a quieter hike, opt for Machu Picchu Mountain. If you are looking for a personal challenge and to see more ruins, opt for Huayna Picchu. Both offer magnificent views and unforgettable experiences that will perfectly complement your visit.
How far in advance should I buy my ticket?
If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu, you should buy your ticket at least a couple of months in advance, especially between May and October, which is the high tourist season. If you choose Machu Picchu Mountain, you may find availability within a few days of your date but be aware that it can sell out if you do not book in advance.
Does the ticket include entrance to the Machu Picchu archaeological complex?
Yes, tickets for either of the two mountains include admission to the rest of the Machu Picchu complex. You can also hike to Inti Punku at no additional cost.
Can children do the treks?
Children can hike Machu Picchu as the trail is relatively easy, but only children over 12 years old can hike Huayna Picchu.
Are the treks dangerous?
The hikes are safe as long as you stay on the trails and respect the respective signage. However, you should be very careful when climbing Huayna Picchu, due to the steep and narrow trails. Be especially careful on rainy days as the path can be slippery.
From where do you get the best views?
The views from both mountains are excellent. At the top of Machu Picchu mountain you will be able to see a unique and special view of the complex. From Huayna Picchu, you get a different perspective from the top, but it is equally beautiful.