Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain

Yoga retreats in Machu Picchu

When it is time to go to Machu Picchu and you want to make an excursion to a Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, it is important to know the difference between them. Read our complete guide about Machupicchu Mountain vs Huayna Picchu.

Huayna Picchu

Rising above the citadel of Machu Picchu in all the classic images, Huayna Picchu is the infamous sugarloaf mountain at an altitude of 2,720m. Although the hike is known to be more challenging than its counterpart, the mountain of Machu Picchu, it is the more popular choice of the two.

Read our blog to find out how Becky, our sales manager from Australia, managed to climb Huayna Picchu.

The Trail

Huayna Picchu is very steep, narrow, and in many parts, requires using your hands for balance or using the provided cables to hold on. There are many stone steps and some stone stairs to climb to the cliff face along the way. Much of the trail is exposed to falls; if you suffer from vertigo it may not be the right walk for you. The summit itself is not flat but is rocky, so when the crowd rises it can be a little difficult to move.


Due to the complexity and gradient of the path, the hike is quite challenging.


Taking into account the stop along the way and admiring the view from the top, the walk can take between 2 and 3 hours.


The peak of the mountain is at 2693 m, while the climb itself is 353 m.

Machu Picchu Mountain

Although it is known as the not-so-steep and not-so-difficult hike, the less frequented Machu Picchu mountain offers possibly more spectacular views due to the difference in altitude. From the summit there are incredible views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, as well as the lush valley that surrounds it.

The trail

Machu Picchu Mountain begins as a wider path; however, the trail becomes steeper and narrower along the way up. Compared to Huayna Picchu, the ascent is slower, but reaches a higher elevation. The trail does not include elements necessary on the Huayna Picchu (e.g., stairs, the need to climb with one’s hands), but rather a continuous climb of stone stairs before reaching a stone gate before the summit. The summit offers a fairly large area to sit and enjoy the views, and is generally less crowded than Huayna Picchu.

Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain


This excursion is reasonably difficult, although you could say it is more manageable than Huayna Picchu as the climb is more gradual.


Taking into account the stop on the way and the view from the summit, the hike can take between 3 and 4 hours.


The summit of the mountain is at 3,082 m, while the climb itself is 652 m.

Which one do I choose?

While the Huayna Picchu is a more dramatic and popular hike, the Machu Picchu mountain offers equally incredible views (some argue that they are primordial) from the summit. Since the mountains are opposite each other, both hikes offer similar views of the surrounding landscape and incredible views of the citadel.

Both hikes have exposed sections along the way, so those with a strong fear of heights or prone to vertigo may prefer to follow with a closer walk to ruins such as the Puerta del Sol. Both options are quite challenging and require a moderate level of fitness, although Huayna Picchu may be the preference of the more adventurous. The climb is well worth the effort, and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views, regardless of your choice.

If you are interested in hiking the Huayna Picchu or the Machu Picchu mountain, talk to one of our experts in Peru to find out which may be the best option for you. Permits for each hike are limited to 400 per day and tend to run out quickly, so we recommend purchasing them in advance. You can see all of our Machu Picchu vacations here. 

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