The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu is full of mystery and secrets that are still being uncovered today and continue to attract travelers to this World Wonder. During your visit to Machu Picchu and having witnessed the majestic sunrise, you will notice two large peaks towering over the Inca city which will feed your sense of wonder and discovery. Many travelers to Machu Picchu simply take these two peaks on face value, however we know that many of you will be wondering whether or not these mountains can be scaled and how!
Huayna Picchu Mountain
You may have already heard of this mountain also spelt Wayna Picchu, which is located at the back of the ruins. It is definitely the more famous of the several short walks around the Machu Picchu ruins. Translated from the Inca language of Quechua, Wayna Picchu means ‘Young Peak’ and it was said to be home to the most important priests of Machu Picchu. Standing at the base of the trail, the steep ascent can seem intimidating but we can assure you that upon reaching the summit, the views are well worth the struggle.
Watch your step…
Don’t let the ropes attached to the rock face fool you, although not for the faint hearted the hike is certainly recommended for adventurous travelers. The scramble to the top of Wayna Picchu can take up to 90 minutes to complete depending on the weather conditions as the rocks can become slippery when wet and how often you stop to admire the scenery, catch your breath and take photos. Part of the trail takes you through an Inca tunnel which is only the start of the treasures waiting for you at the top. Aside from providing spectacular views of Machu Picchu, the 679ft. high mountain above the ancient citadel is covered in ruins waiting for you to explore! One of these is the Temple of the Moon (Templo de la Luna) which is tucked into a complex of caves and is hidden from the ruins at the summit. With some of the finest examples of Inca stonework at Machu Picchu, its main function is still something of a mystery but it is possible that it was used as a burial site.
Access to Huayna Picchu
Only 400 visitors are allowed up to the top of Huayna Picchu everyday meaning that you need to plan well in advance as not only do tickets sell out quickly but we will need to purchase the Huayna Picchu entrance with your Machu Picchu ticket. The 400 people allowed to visit are split up into 2 entrance times, the first departing between 7-8AM and the second from 10-11AM. Both departing times have their advantage. At the earlier time, you will be the first ones up and the climbing conditions are generally cooler and in the shade. The second departure time has the advantage that you can first explore the ruins of Machu Picchu before scaling the Huayna Picchu mountain although it can be quite tricky going up as the first group of people begin descending at the same time. Whichever group you choose or depending on availability you are bound to have an unforgettable experience!
Machu Picchu Mountain
Before you ask, this is in fact different to the Machu Picchu ruins with Machu Picchu Mountain lying on the opposite side to Wayna Picchu. Less known and explored, the Machu Picchu Mountain is similar to Wayna Picchu in the way that it also has a 400 person daily limit, you need to book your tickets in advance and it also has a set entrance time of between 7-11AM. A positive of being less popular with travelers is that it very rarely reaches the capacity of 400 people per day.
This is not because Machu Picchu Mountain is any worse than Wayna Picchu but due to the simple fact that most people just do not know about it. If your knees get a bit shaky at the thought of heights, although Machu Picchu Mountain is taller than Wayna Picchu, the climb to its summit is less steep and no helping hand ropes are needed making it more appropriate for families with younger, active children.
A gentle hike up Machu Picchu
The start of the walk is reached via the same trail that takes you to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) and depending on your walking speed it can take between 3 to 4 hours to scale. Almost twice as high as Huayna Picchu, the Machu Picchu Mountain provides its own unique experience. Aside from the large Inca stones on the pathway, the Machu Picchu Mountain has fewer Inca ruins, but what it does have is a lush, vibrant forest lining the trail with wild orchids, stunning lichens and you can spot a number of exotic birds.
Enjoy Machu Picchu away from the crowds
The view from the summit is equally as magnificent as those from Wayna Picchu and due to this mountain being less explored it is generally much quieter allowing you to enjoy its summit for longer. The sheer height of Machu Picchu Mountain means you get rewarded with a 360-degree view over the ruins of Machu Picchu, over the top of Huayna Picchu Mountain and down to the winding Urubamba River and valleys below. Whether you choose to take on the challenging steps of Wayna Picchu or scale the lofty heights of Machu Picchu Mountain, both of these secret mountains will add to your overall Machu Picchu experience!
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