Should you climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?

Where people take the famous Machu Picchu shots!

Machu Picchu Shot

Machu Picchu. Many people have been mystified by this ancient Inca wonder (it also happens to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World). However, most people traveling to Peru aiming to explore this stunning sight don’t realize that the trip doesn’t have to end with the citadel. Basically therer are also hikes open to you, up in the ruins of Machu Picchu: Huayna Picchu and the old mountain Machu Picchu

When searching Google for images of Machu Picchu you will mostly be inundated with pictures of the ruins of Machu Picchu, without realizing that Machu Picchu is also a mountain. The ruins of this ancient citadel (It’s often mistakenly identified as a city, called the “Lost City of the Incas”)  is surely a spectacle worth seeing, but you should be aware that there are two magnificent summits to view it from. One, of course, belongs to Machu Picchu mountain, while the other resides on top of Huayna Picchu Mountain.

What does Muchu Picchu mean?

Now, before we go on to talk about these two mountains, We would like to briefly inform you about a bit about their names. The main language of the Incas was Quechua and it is still spoken by a lot of the indigenous communities living in the Andes (about 8-10 million people in South America still speak this language, making it the most spoken indigenous language in the world). The word picchu in Quechua can be translated into man or mountain. Machu means old, while Huayna (Wayna, spelling in Quechua) means young. So, translated, Machu Picchu means Old Man (Mountain); conversely Huayna Picchu means Young Man (Mountain). Now, let’s discuss planning hikes for these two mountains.

 

Comparing Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu

First of all, be aware that when you are purchasing tickets to the Machu Picchu ruins, if you wish to hike these summits you must purchase the option for one of these hikes along with your ticket. Otherwise, you will have to purchase a whole other ticket. Unfortunately, it is impossible to hike both of these mountains in one day. They only have groups leaving in the morning, so you will again have to buy another ticket for another day to hike the other mountain. So, if you only have one day to hike, which mountain do you choose? Well, it comes down to personal preference. To assist you in your decision, we have made a list of the main differences between the two mountains.

 

Comparing the two mountains

Huayna Picchu

Machu Picchu

Availability

400 tickets per day, two groups of 200. Should be purchased up to 2 or 3 months in advance (especially in high tourist months from June to August)

800 tickets per day, two groups of 400. Should be purchased up to 1.5 or 2 months in advance (especially in high tourist months from June to August)

Total Hiking Time

1.5 – 2 hours

2.5 – 3 hours

Difficulty

Pretty difficult due to very steep ascent and descent. Also, the path is quite narrow. You will have to use your hands to climb in some parts, using handrails, as well as climb over boulders. However, it is not strict rock climbing.

Not as difficult, with wider paths and some steep climbs. You won’t need to scramble or use your hands as much. However, it is a longer hike and will require some endurance.

Crowd/Fear Factor

Very crowded. There are some high drop offs, so avoid this hike if you have a serious fear of heights. Should be have skilled balance and footing.

Less crowded. Narrow stone staircases with nothing on either side. Would also recommend skilled balance and footing.

Elevation

8924 ft (2720 m)

10010 ft (3051 m)

Elevation Gain

952 ft (290 m)

2038 ft (621 m)

Start Times

Between 7:00 to 8:00 am; Between 10:00 to 11:00 am

Anytime between 7:00 and 11:00 am

View

Beautiful panoramic view of the ruins, Machu Picchu mountain, and Urubamba River.

Also a wonderful view of the ruins, with Huayna Picchu Mountain acting as a gorgeous background.

Price

An additional $15 USD with the purchase of a ticket to Machu Picchu ruins. In total, $60 per person for entrance ticket with hiking option.

An additional $15 USD with the purchase of a ticket to Machu Picchu ruins. In total, $60 per person for entrance ticket with hiking option.

Macchu Picchu Mountain Hike

Pros

It is a more relaxing and peaceful hike with a smaller crowd and more open space that can allow it to feel more personal. You will also have more rest and viewpoints along the trail, especially since it is higher in elevation. The higher elevation allows for somewhat better views. Another benefit is that it is closer to the trails leading Inti Punku (Sun Gate) and the Inca bridge.

Cons

This hike is a longer and will allow for less time to explore the main Machu Picchu ruins. You will also not explore the small set of ruins and terraces on Huayna Picchu. The height can be a little unnerving, but it is not as bad as Huayna Picchu, especially since it has wider spaces.

Machu Picchu Mountain View
Machu Picchu Mountain View

 

Huayna Picchu Moutain Hike

Huayna Picchu Mountain View
Huayna Picchu Mountain View

Pros

The hike is a faster and will allow for more time to explore the main Machu Picchu ruins. You will also have the opportunity to explore some extra ruins and terraces on the mountain. Choose this hike if you want a quicker hike (it is also the more marketed height, so extra attention has been given to this attraction).

Cons

A more physically demanding hike (you might find this aspect to be more rewarding) that is also more crowded with less opportunities to rest. If you have a fear of heights, I would recommend you avoid this hike, especially when it rains as it can become quite slippery.

 

No matter what you choose you will have a stunning view and an unforgetable experience at Machu Picchu! Find your perfect Machu Picchu Tour at Daspe Travel and let us help you to modify it exactly to your needs!

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