Huayna Picchu Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in Machu Picchu. Thousands of people arrive at Machu Picchu every year, hike to Huayna Picchu, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The hike to Huayna Picchu is not particularly challenging, but it is steep in places and can be slippery when wet. It takes about two hours to complete the hike, and from there, you can see Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas.
Huayna Picchu Mountain General Information
Huayna Picchu Mountain, commonly known as Waynapicchu, is located in the Machu Picchu District, Urubamba Province, Cusco Region. This peak rises at 2693 meters (8835 feet) in the northern region of Machu Picchu. According to local guides and historians, a high priest responsible for astronomical observations resided on this peak. It was also the site of religious ceremonies where offerings were made to the local gods.
What is Huayna Picchu Mountain?
Huayna Picchu is the tall mountain you see behind in the most famous photographs of Machu Picchu, the classic postal pictures. You need to book the entrance tickets in advance to hike this mountain.
The access point is located in the northern corner of Machu Picchu; it takes about 1 hour to the top and 45 minutes down the same trail. Inside Huayna Picchu mountain, you will find steep, narrow stairs known as the "stairs of death." You will also see terraces, temples, and orchids and enjoy this incredible place's fantastic views.
Huayna Picchu is located in the Andes mountain range in the Cusco Region of Peru, South America. The mountain towers over the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, which is situated in the Urubamba Province, approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the city of Cusco. The site lies within the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary and is part of the larger Vilcabamba mountain range.
Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are nestled within a subtropical cloud forest at an altitude of around 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level, while Huayna Picchu itself rises to an elevation of 2693 meters (8835 feet) above sea level. The Urubamba River flows below the mountain, winding its way through the deep canyon known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450 by the Inca emperor Pachacuti as a royal estate or retreat. The citadel is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley, which lies in the heart of the Andes. Huayna Picchu, rising to an elevation of 2693 meters (8835 feet) above sea level, towers over the ancient ruins and provides an impressive backdrop to the site.
The exact purpose of Huayna Picchu remains unclear, but it is believed that the Incas constructed a series of terraces, temples, and other structures on the mountain, which were integrated into the larger Machu Picchu complex. Some researchers theorize that Huayna Picchu may have served as a religious site, a fortress, or a watchtower.
Like the rest of the Machu Picchu region, the weather in Huayna Picchu can vary throughout the year. Here's a general overview of the weather patterns you can expect:
- Dry Season (May to September): This period is considered the peak tourist season due to the more favorable weather conditions. Days are usually sunny and clear, with minimal rainfall. However, temperatures can drop significantly, especially during the early morning and evening. It's recommended to dress in layers and carry a jacket or sweater to stay warm.
- Wet Season (October to April): The wet season in Huayna Picchu is characterized by increased rainfall and higher humidity. Rain showers are more frequent, and the surrounding vegetation appears lush and vibrant. The temperatures during this season are relatively mild, but it can still be chilly at higher elevations. It's essential to pack rain gear, such as a waterproof jacket and pants, and be prepared for muddy and slippery trails.
It's important to note that weather conditions in mountainous regions can be unpredictable, and there can be variations even within a single day. Fog and mist can also occur, which may affect visibility. It's advisable to check the weather forecast before your visit and be prepared for changes in weather conditions.
Meaning of Huayna Picchu in Quechua
In Quechua, the Inca language, Huayna Picchu means "young mountain" This name was given to the mountain because it was the site of an important Inca Temple, and the Inca believed that the spirits of their ancestors resided there.
There is some debate over the exact meaning of the name, as some scholars believe it may also be a reference to the Inca emperor Huayna Capac. However, the most popular interpretation is that it simply refers to Huayna Picchu being a young mountain compared to the other peaks in the area. Whatever its true meaning, Huayna Picchu is undoubtedly an impressive sight, and it is one of Peru's most popular tourist destinations.
Entry times to Huayna Picchu Mountain
300 people hike to Huayna Picchu Mountain daily, and the entrance tickets will sell out fast. For this reason, you need to book the tickets far in advance. There are 4 shifts available to hike Huayna Picchu every day:
The Huayna Picchu Tickets will allow you to only enter Machu Picchu through Circuit 4. Please note that Circuit 4 is through the Lower part of Machu Picchu; if you want to explore the upper part, the views points of Machu Picchu, you need to buy another entrance with Circuit 1 or 2.
Allows you to enter Machu Picchu citadel after 6.00 am and Huayna Picchu from 7.00 am to 8.00 am. You must stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes town the night before and take the early buses to Machu Picchu to arrive for this shift. Every day there are 75 permits available for this shift.
This shift is recommended for:
- Travelers who have a short time to explore Machu Picchu and Huayan Picchu and need to return very early
- Travelers visiting for a second time Machu Picchu and planning to hike only Huayna Picchu
- Travelers who have a guided tour later in the day
Allows you to enter Machu Picchu citadel after 7.00 am and Huayna Picchu from 8.00 am to 9.00 am. We recommend booking this shift if you stay the night before in Aguas Calientes; you need to enter Huayna Picchu Mountain before 9: 00 am. Please note that from the main entrance, there is still a 20 minutes hike to the main entrance of Huayna Picchu. Every day is available; only 75 permits are in this shift.
This shift is recommended for:
- Travelers who have 6.00 am Machu Picchu tickets and want to connect with Huayan Picchu and return early
- Travelers visiting for a second time Machu Picchu and planning to hike only Huayna Picchu
- Travelers who have very early guided tours need to finish early
The Third shift
You can enter Machu Picchu citadel after 8.00 am and Huayna Picchu between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. This shift is perfect for Alternative Treks such as the Short Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trek, Tours by train, or any other trek that leads to Machu Picchu. This is because you need to explore the Citadel of Machu Picchu first, then you can hike the mountain. Every day is available; only 75 permits are in this shift.
This shift is recommended for:
- Travelers who have early guided tours
- Travelers finishing alternative treks or organized tours
- Travelers who prefer to enjoy more time in Machu Picchu
The last shift
You can enter Machu Picchu after 9.00 am and Huayna Picchu; you can enter between 10.00 am to 11.00 am. This shift is perfect for the Classic Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trek, Tours by train, or any other trek that leads to Machu Picchu. This is because you need to explore the Citadel of Machu Picchu first, then you can hike the mountain. Every day is available; only 75 permits are in this shift.
This shift is recommended for:
- Travelers who have a guided tour and want to hike Huayna Picchu slowly
- Travelers arriving from the Inca trail
- Travelers finishing alternative treks or organized tours.
Please note that Huayna Picchu Mountain costs 75$, and buying this mountain separately is impossible. You can only enter through the lower part of Machu Picchu and cannot access the upper part where the best photo places are. These tickets will not allow you to re-enter.
To have the whole Machu Picchu experience and get the upper part's pictures, you must purchase a separate regular Machu Picchu ticket (50$).
When you take a trekking tour, tour by train, or any other tour that Includes Machu Picchu entry, the regular Entry to Machu Picchu is always included.
What to expect when hiking Huayna Picchu
The hike up Huayna Picchu takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete the mountain, depending on your fitness level. Once you enter the checkpoint in the northern area of Machu Picchu, you will start a steep 45- to 1-hour ascend to the top of Huayna Picchu Mountain. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a 360° view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area.
After spending time at the top of Huayna Picchu, you will start descending through the same trail back to Machu Picchu; it takes around 1 hour to reach Machu Picchu and another 30 minutes to exit the Citadel.
The views from Huayna Picchu Mountain are some of the most incredible in all of Peru. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction. The mountain is surrounded by lush rainforest. As you ascend, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. The scenery is truly spectacular and provides incredible photo opportunities.
The flora in Huayna Picchu Mountain is characterized by its diverse and lush vegetation, typical of the tropical Andean cloud forest ecosystem. Here are some of the common plant species you can find in the area:
- Orchids: With their vibrant colors and intricate shapes, orchids are a highlight of the flora in this region.
- Bromeliads: These plants have unique rosette-shaped leaves and often collect water in their centers, creating miniature ecosystems for insects and other small organisms.
- Ferns: You can find different types of ferns, ranging from delicate and lacy fronds to larger and more robust varieties.
- Mosses and lichens: The damp environment of Huayna Picchu supports the growth of mosses and lichens, which cover tree trunks, rocks, and the forest floor. They contribute to the lush green appearance of the mountain.
- Trees: The cloud forest is dominated by a variety of tree species. Some common trees found in the area include the Polylepis, Aliso, Queñua, and Chachacomo. These trees provide shade and serve as habitats for other plants and animals.
- Epiphytes: Huayna Picchu is also home to numerous epiphytic plants that grow on other plants without parasitism. Epiphytes, such as bromeliads and orchids, attach themselves to trees and derive moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
- Medicinal plants: The cloud forests of the Andes are known for their abundance of medicinal plants. Many traditional remedies and herbal medicines are derived from plant species found in this ecosystem.
Huayna Picchu Mountain is rich in flora and supports diverse fauna. Although the dense forest and rugged terrain make it challenging to spot some species, here are some examples of the fauna you might encounter in the Huayna Picchu area:
- Birds: You may spot colorful birds like the Andean cock-of-the-rock, golden-headed quetzal, hummingbirds, tanagers, Andean condors, and several species of toucans.
- Mammals: Huayna Picchu supports a variety of smaller mammals. Some examples include spectacled bears (also known as Andean bears), mountain vizcachas (a type of rodent), squirrels, and several bat species.
- Amphibians: You might encounter different species of frogs, including colorful poison dart frogs such as the Andean rocket frog and variable harlequin frog.
- Insects and arachnids: Butterflies, moths, beetles, and various other insects inhabit the area. You may also spot tarantulas, praying mantises, and different types of spiders.
- Reptiles: Snakes like the Andean coral snake and the Andean forest pit viper are among the reptiles you might encounter.
- Invertebrates: The cloud forest is a haven for invertebrates, including numerous species of beetles, spiders, and other insects. Additionally, you may come across vibrant butterflies and moths, including the iconic blue morpho butterfly.
It's important to note that the wildlife in Huayna Picchu is wild and can be elusive. The best way to observe and appreciate the fauna is to be respectful of their habitat and maintain a safe distance. Additionally, hiring a knowledgeable guide can greatly enhance your chances of spotting and learning about the various species in the area.
The stairs of death
If you're looking for a genuinely heart-pounding hiking experience, look no further than the Huayna Picchu mountain in Peru. This hike is not for the faint of heart, as it features a nearly vertical stair climb that some have nicknamed "the stairs of death." But if you're up for the challenge, the view from the top is more than worth it.
The hike up Huayna Picchu is considered moderately difficult and involves steep and narrow sections. The trail consists of stone steps, stairs, and occasional exposed areas. It requires good fitness and agility to navigate the path safely. Some sections may be challenging for those who have a fear of heights.
Access to Huayna Picchu is restricted, and only a limited number of permits are issued each day. Securing your permit in advance is important, as they can sell out quickly, especially during the high season. Make sure to plan ahead and check availability.
Specific time slots are allocated for entering Huayna Picchu, and you must begin your hike within the designated time frame stated on your permit. The hike typically takes around 2-3 hours round trip, but it may vary depending on your pace and fitness level.
Due to the trail's steep and sometimes exposed sections, taking precautions and hiking carefully is essential. Use sturdy footwear with good traction, bring plenty of water, and consider using trekking poles for stability. Take breaks when needed and be mindful of your physical limitations.
Huayna Picchu is located in the Andean region, and the weather can be unpredictable. It's advisable to dress in layers, wear sunscreen, and carry rain gear, as rain showers are common. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather conditions throughout the hike.
Huayna Picchu Mountain FAQs
How challenging is the Huayna Picchu hike?
The hike to the summit of Huayna Picchu is considered moderately challenging, with steep inclines, narrow trails, and some sections where you'll need to use your hands for support. The hike takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the summit, depending on your fitness level and pace. Some portions can be exposed, so it's not recommended for those with a fear of heights.
How much is the entrance ticket?
The ticket that includes access to Machu Picchu Circuit 4 and Huayna Picchu for foreign adult visitors is USD 75. There are discounted rates for students, children, and citizens of Andean Community countries (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia).
Remember to purchase your tickets in advance, as daily access to Huayna Picchu is limited to 300 visitors. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, especially during the peak travel season.
The same is the case of Machu Picchu Mountain. To plan a perfect trip to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, you must book a more convenient shift depending on the activity you have planned for Machu Picchu.
When you hike the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you will arrive on the last day of the trek to Sungate around 6:30 a.m.; continue to Machu Picchu for another hour, where the Inca Trail ends. After resting, you will start a guided tour of Machu Picchu from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. approximate; next, if you have the Huayna Picchu tickets, you will hike to the top of this mountain, reach the top, go back down, and take the bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch, then take the train back to Cusco. The tickets cost $75, and you must always book the last shift from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Treks like the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trek, Quarry Trek, Tours by train, and other tours include spending the night in Aguas Calientes and taking the early buses up to Machu Picchu. You must book an early Machu Picchu entrance (6:am or 7:am), explore the upper part of the Citadel with a guided tour, and use a second ticket to enter Huayna Picchu from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. By following this order, you will enjoy Machu Picchu to the fullest, have enough time to listen to the tour guides and explore on your own before climbing the big mountain.
If you are traveling from Cusco or Ollantaytambo on a full-day tour, take the early train options (4 a.m. to 8) and make it on time before 11 a.m. to enter Huayna Picchu Mountain. You must always book the second shift (10 to 11 a.m.); you can get one ticket for Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu included at 75.USD, or you can buy 2 tickets to enter Huayna Picchu (75. USD) and another to explore the Citadel after the mountain (50. USD). Please remember to enjoy Machu Picchu in no hurry; you need at least 2 hours. If you have later trains, you can also consider booking the last shift of Huayan Picchu from 10: a.m. to 11 a.m.
Which is the best time of the day to hike Huayna Picchu Mountain?
The best time to hike Huayna Picchu is after the guided tour in Machu Picchu. First, you must explore the Citadel with your tour guide, spend time alone, and finally climb Huayna Picchu Mountain. We recommend this because Machu Picchu is the main attraction, and you must enjoy it first. After Huayna Picchu, you take the bus to Aguas Calientes, enjoy a Cusqueña (Local beer), and return to Cusco.
Which is the best time of the year to hike this mountain?
Huyana Picchu is open all year round, but there are a few things to consider when planning the perfect trip for you. Machu Picchu is located in the cloud forest, the wettest place in Peru. Rains are expected anytime; we can have unexpected rainy days, even in the driest months like June or July.
Huayna Picchu during the dry season
From May to October in the Andes, less rainfall is expected in Machu Picchu. However, you must always carry rain gear, as the weather may change quickly. These months are also the busiest time of the year, especially from June to September when there will be long queues for buses, Machu Picchu, and trains.
Huayna Picchu during the wet season
From November to April. It is expected to rain in the mornings and late afternoon. However, the sun will come out around 9 to 10. However, in the cloud forest, the weather is unpredictable. Preparing for sunshine, rain, and cold weather is better.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu and hike Huayna Picchu Mountain is in the shoulder seasons: April, May, September, October, and November. These are the transition months between the dry, cold, and warm-wet seasons.
What is Huayna Picchu elevation?
The mountain's top is at 2693 meters (8835 ft). The hike starts in Machu Picchu at 2430 meters (7972ft) and finishes at the same place.
Where is it located, and how to get there?
The mountain known as Huayna Picchu can be found north of Machu Picchu; to reach the entrance to Huayna Picchu, you will need to trek through Machu Picchu for around twenty minutes after entering the site.
Is the Mountain Dangerous?
Huayna Picchu and Montaña are steep, open, exposed areas with sheer drops; however, Huayna Picchu is more vertical, and you will need to use in some parts handrails to keep your balance. Montaña is also steep, open, and exposed; however, it does not have the sheer drops that Huayna Picchu does. Use extreme caution when you are out on the trail to Huayna Picchu's top.
Is the hike worth It?
The ascent is difficult since it is steep and narrow; you must stop and allow the people behind you to pass. A series of steps at the top is the Stairs of Death or Huayna Picchu death stairs. These stairs got their name because they are very steep and require you to ascend using your hands.
Despite the difficulties and possible risks involved, the ascent to Huayna Picchu is well worth it for the breathtaking vistas.
The temple of the moon in Machu Picchu
Also called the Great Cavern is an incredible temple built inside a natural cave with finely carved lithic structures. The Incas believed caves were medium to communicate with the dead.
Some scholars of the Temple of the Moon believe there are reasons to think that sacrifices were made at this location. The only way to visit the Temple of the Moon is by buying the combined entrance Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu in the first shift. Access to the temple of the moon is currently closed until further notice.
Temple of the Moon or Great Cavern
The Temple of the Moon, also known as the Temple of the Moon Cave, is an ancient Inca sanctuary located on the western side of Huayna Picchu. It is a natural cave that was modified and enhanced by the Incas. The cave contains intricate stonework and ceremonial niches carved into the rock walls. It is believed to have served as a sacred place for Inca rituals and ceremonies.
Visitors who choose to hike Huayna Picchu can explore the Temple of the Moon as part of the trail. The cave offers an intriguing glimpse into the Incas' religious practices and architectural achievements.
It's important to note that access to Huayna Picchu and its features may be subject to certain restrictions and regulations imposed by the local authorities. If you plan to visit Huayna Picchu and explore these specific sites, it is advisable to check with the relevant authorities or tour operators to ensure that they are accessible during your visit.