Huayna Picchu: The Challenging Death Stairs


At the top of the majestic Huayna Picchu mountain, awaits a challenge that elevates the adventurer’s experience to new levels: the famous “Stairs of Death”. This route, steeped in Inca history and flanked by towering cliffs, offers a unique perspective of Machu Picchu that few have the privilege of experiencing.

Discovering Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu mountain rises north of the Inca City, 2,720 meters above sea level. Its renown is largely due to the staircases that wind up its slopes, with the most challenging stretch known as the “Stairs of Death”. In addition, at the summit rests the enigmatic Temple of the Moon, an Inca construction that adds mystery to the landscape.

The Intriguing “Stairs of Death”.

These stairs, a legacy of the Incas, are notable for their steep slope and location on the edge of vertiginous cliffs. Despite their shocking name, no lives have been lost on these stairs. The 183-meter ascent challenges intrepid visitors, who cling to the wet wall as they contemplate the drop to the Urubamba River.

Ascent: An Unforgettable Challenge

The ascent up these stairs demands a significant physical effort, with a slope of approximately 60 degrees. Every step counts, and tourists advance cautiously to the top of Huayna Picchu. The reward, however, is unsurpassed: panoramic views that encompass the grandeur of Machu Picchu.

Descent: An Additional Challenge

If climbing the “Stairs of Death” is challenging, descending them adds an extra level of adrenaline. The precipitous slopes make every step crucial, and the need to give way to the ascenders adds complexity to this vertiginous descent. An unforgettable moment for those who face the fear of heights.

Myths and Realities

Contrary to popular belief, the “Stairs of Death” have not claimed lives. Although surrounded by myths, statistics show that people of all ages walk them daily without fatal incidents. Safety, combined with excitement, defines this unique experience.

Huayna Picchu Adrenaline Alternatives

Montaña Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu Mountain

For those seeking similar thrills, Huayna Picchu offers equally exciting alternatives:

  1. Machu Picchu Mountain: a 2-kilometer hike to the top of the mountain that gives its name to the Inca City.
  2. Intipunku (Sun Gate): A 2-kilometer trek up stone stairs in the archaeological site.
  3. Inca Bridge: A 30-minute hike that crosses paths along cliffs on the eastern side of Machu Picchu.

Other Shocking Staircases in the World

Beyond Huayna Picchu, the world is home to staircases that defy the limits of bravery:

  • Waterfall Steps – Black Forest, Wurzburg (Germany).
  • Canyon Steps – Pailon del Diablo (Ecuador)
  • Chand Baori Well – Abhaneri (India)
  • Elbe Sandstone Mountain Stairs – Dresden (Germany)
  • Rock of Guatapé – Antioquia (Colombia)
  • Stairs of Haiku – Hawaii (United States)
  • Stairs of Via Crusis – Bermeo (Spain)
  • Taihang Mountains Spiral Staircase – Shanxi and Henan (China)

Adventure Tips

Accessing the “Stairs of Death” requires careful planning:

  1. Advance Purchase: Given the limited availability (only 400 tickets per day), purchase your Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket online 2 to 3 months in advance.
  2. Entrance groups: Select one of the three entrance groups according to your time preferences, ensuring a personalized experience.

Explore the “Stairs of Death” of Huayna Picchu with courage and discover a unique corner in the heart of the ancient Inca civilization!

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