Complete Guide to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain

Stairs from Machu Picchu

 All you need to know about Machu Picchu Mountain!

Machu Picchu Mountain, also known as Montaña Machu Picchu, is the area’s highest mountain at 3082 meters (10111 feet) and is located in the Machu Picchu District Urubamba Province, Cusco Region. This mountain rises in the Machu Picchu Citadel’s southern region. The names Machu and Picchu derive from the Quechua: Machu (ancient or great) and Picchu (high) (mountain). From this, the name Machu Picchu translates to “great mountain. Many people would mistake Machu Picchu Mountain for Machu Picchu Citadel. They are not the same.

Top of Montaña
The Top of Montaña, after 1.5 hours climb.

When you book a tour or purchase Machu Picchu entrance tickets, you reserve access to the Machu Picchu Citadel but not necessarily to the mountain. You will need to hire a tour guide or book with an official tour company like TreXperience for your tour to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Mountain, or Montaña is the highest mountain in the Machu Picchu area. There is an entrance fee to pay, and you must book in advance. Visiting Machu Picchu doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to hike to this mountain; it’s optional. You can only hike it if you have a permit, which is different from the Machu Picchu citadel permit.

Ticket Times for Machu Picchu Mountain?

To enter Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña Machu Picchu), you must book the entrance ticket in advance since they tend to sell out fast, depending on the season. You can choose two different shifts to hike this mountain. However, you must first consider the type of tour you will participate in before booking the Montaña entrance.

View from Montaña
View from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain

First Shift (7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.)
This shift is ideal for those who stayed in Aguas Calientes the previous night. You must first board early morning buses to Machu Picchu and ascend this peak before the sun rises. From the summit of Montaña, one can see how slowly Machu Picchu becomes crowded. If you choose this option, the total cost of Machu Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Citadel will be $75 USD. But there is a downside: after a 3-hour round-trip hike up this peak, you will be too tired to continue your 2- to 3-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu.

When you purchase this option, you must enter the citadel between 6 am and 7 am. It takes 25 minutes to hike from the main gate to the control point of this mountain.

Second Shift (8:00 am to 9:00 am)
The second shift, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., allows 200 people to enter; this shift is ideal for people arriving at Machu Picchu after hiking the Short Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle, or Tour by train. You must first tour the Citadel of Machu Picchu before ascending the Machu Picchu mountain. It will take around 1.5 hours to reach the summit of the mountain, and a similar time to return.

We don’t suggest this mountain if you’re trekking the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 4 days unless you take a private trip, then you hike this mountain first and then visit Machu Picchu.

If you stay an additional day in Aguas Calientes after the Inca Trail, the following day, you may hike this mountain and return to Cusco.

Machu Picchu Mountain tickets allow you to re-enter Machu Picchu but only through the shortest circuit called “CIRCUIT 3 OR LOWER ENTRANCE.”

View of Machu Picchu Mountain
View of Machu Picchu Mountain from Huayna Picchu entrance

How hard is it to climb Montaña?

The trail to Machu Picchu Mountain is more difficult since it is longer and higher than the trail to Huayna Picchu Mountain. Many people believe that Huayna Picchu is the best, so it sells out rapidly. Due to its location, I consider Machu Picchu Mountain to be one of the most magnificent peaks to climb. From the summit, you will enjoy a 360-degree view of the whole Machu Picchu area.

At first, it is steep with a moderate incline. The ascent becomes more difficult as it continues. Upon reaching the summit, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains and the magnificent fortress of Machu Picchu far below. Remember to use extreme caution to prevent accidents.

This peak can be climbed by anybody in average physical condition. The 1.5 hours to the top can be done at your own pace and with as many breaks as you want.


Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 days – Find out more.


How much is the cost of the entrance ticket?

You can not buy Machu Picchu Mountain Tickets separately. You must always buy them together, including Machu Picchu Circuit 3, and the cost is 75.USD per person. When you participate in a tour, it’s important to consider your guided tour time before booking any shift. If your tour is with a tour company, it is better to contact them and request that they guide you through booking the best shift that fits your schedule. Below is the recommended schedule depending on the tour you are booking.

1: The Classic Inca Trail 4 days 3 nights

The Classic Inca Trail + Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña) combination is not recommended because there is not enough time to arrive from the Inca Trail, visit Machu Picchu citadel, and hike Machu Picchu Mountain. It’s possible, and we’ve had guests in the past who completed both Machu Picchu citadel and the mountain. However, you might have to skip part of the guided tour of Machu Picchu citadel. We recommend booking Machu Picchu Mountain only if you want to stay an extra day in Aguas Calientes; then, you can go back the next day to Machu Picchu and climb the mountain.

As mentioned above, it’s possible to do both but not recommended; if you have only one day and must do Machu Picchu Mountain too, please make sure you book the last shift and keep in mind that you might have to skip part of the tour. You must always inform and coordinate with your tour guide.

The cost of the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain + Machu Picchu Circuit 3 is $75. The Inca Trail permit will allow you to enter Machu Picchu. However, we will need to book a new entrance again to climb Machu Picchu Mountain.

1: The Short Inca Trail 2 days 1 night

The Short Inca Trail + Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña) is perfect and recommended. You need to participate first in the guided tour of the Citadel as part of your regular tour; then, you will exit Machu Picchu and re-enter again; this time, you will head straight for 25 minutes to the entrance of Machu Picchu Mountain. Once you complete the 2 or 3 hours exploring Machu Picchu with your tour guide, you will need to find the Machu Picchu Mountain entrance and enter the second shift from 9.00 am to 10 am.

The cost of the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain is $75. The short Inca Trail permit will allow you to enter Machu Picchu. However, in order to climb Machu Picchu Mountain, we will need to book a new entrance for Machu Picchu Mountain + Machu Picchu Circuit 3.

2: Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu

This group includes the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trek, Alternative Inca Trail, Huchuy Qosqo Trek, Quarry Trek, and any other trek that includes spending the night before in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo).

The following morning, after spending the night in Aguas Calientes, you will catch the early buses up to the Citadel and access Machu Picchu via the main checkpoint. You must first explore the Citadel, especially if you are on a group excursion. After spending 2–3 hours with your tour guide visiting Machu Picchu, you will need to find the Machu Picchu Mountain entrance and join the second shift between 8:00 am and 9:00 am.

After entering the trail to Montaña Machu Picchu, you will have until noon to complete the hike: ascend to the summit (2 hours), descend the same route, exit back to the Machu Picchu citadel, explore the citadel further, take the bus down to Aguas Calientes, and return to your hotel or train station.

To follow the aforementioned itinerary, you must first book the earliest Machu Picchu access (6 am or 7 am without extra hikes; 50 USD). Then, you must purchase Machu Picchu Mountain between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Please be aware that you must ensure you enter the mountain at the specified time.

It is possible to purchase just one ticket, but you will be required to climb and complete Machu Picchu mountain before continuing on the 2 to 3-hour tour of Machu Picchu, but only via the lower half, missing the spectacular views of Machu Picchu from the top. If you purchase just one ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain, you must add $35 to your trip price.

3.- Tours by train

Traveling by train is also a fantastic experience since you will enjoy the tremendous views of the Andes. There are two ways to visit Machu Picchu by Train.

Full-day Tours from Cusco: You will travel from Cusco or Ollantaytambo very early (from 4 am to 8 am) by train, arrive at Aguas Calientes, board the bus up to Machu Picchu, and explore the Machu Picchu Citadel. If you want to climb Machu Picchu Mountain, you must always book the last shift from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and climb the mountain before the guided tour.

Overnight Tours: If you plan to spend the night in Aguas Calientes and visit Machu Picchu the next day, the recommendation is to have a guided tour of the Citadel and then hike the mountain. For this, you will need the double ticket option.

Top of Montaña
Tour Guide Coronel at the top of Montaña

FAQs about Machu Picchu Mountain

Which is the best time of the day to hike?

These are the recommended options whether you are on a group tour or have a private tour guide.

Private Tours: You can hike up to Machu Picchu Mountain first and then meet with your tour guide at a specific point and explore the Citadel. You can also request your tour guide to go with you up to the mountain. However, this is an extra charge as the Machu Picchu guided tour only includes the Citadel. If this is your plan, you will only need one ticket, and the cost is 75 USD in total.

Group Tours: If you are part of a group tour, the one-ticket option is not for you. The group guided tours are always in the morning when Machu Picchu is not very crowded. After exploring Machu Picchu, you will be able to climb Machu Picchu Mountain by yourself. You need 2 tickets; 1 for Machu Picchu early entry (50.USD) and one for Machu Picchu + Montaña (75.USD). A tour guide for Machu Picchu Mountain is not necessary.

Where Can I Hire a Private Tour Guide for Machu Picchu?

TreXperience has a premium staff of tour guides! They are all locals and come from the surrounding villages. They speak Quechua (an ancient language of the Incas) as their first language; Spanish is their second language, and they are fluent in English. Our tour guides have constant training in first aid, have updated knowledge of the history of Machu Picchu, animals, and plants, and always ensure that their knowledge is up to date. You can also request tour guides in French, German, Italian, and Portuguese for an extra charge.

By hiring a private tour guide, you will be able to explore Machu Picchu at your pace, talk about topics of your interest, and learn about Peruvian history from our expert tour guides.

Which time of the year is best to hike Machu Picchu Mountain?

Machu Picchu is located in the tropical cloud forest, in the warm and humid upper Amazon.

Like in the movies of lost cities, Machu Picchu is located on a high mountain top with difficult access and cannot be seen from the lower part. Also, the area gets covered by mist and clouds for most of the year.

Travelers will visit Machu Picchu all year round, and even with intense sun, clouds, or rain, the city will still amaze you. Below are some recommendations to consider when to visit Machu Picchu.

The dry season is from May to October and is expected to have little rain. However, you must always have rain gear as the weather can change in minutes. This season is also the busy season, especially from June to September, when there will be long lines for the buses, Machu Picchu, and trains.

The wet season is from November to April, and rain is expected early in the morning, and around 9 to 10 a.m., the sun will come out. However, in the cloud forest, the weather is unpredictable. It is better to prepare for the sun, rain, and cold weather.

The best time to visit Machu Picchu and hike Machu Picchu mountain are the shoulder seasons like April, May, September, October, and November.

How high is the mountain?

The Montaña Machu Picchu is the highest mountain in the area at 3082 meters (10111 ft.). The hike begins and ends at Machu Picchu citadel, which is located at 2430 meters (7972 feet). To reach the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, you need at least 1.5 hours and a similar time to come back the same way.

Where is it located, and how do you get there?

Machu Picchu Mountain is located southwest of the Citadel, and the entrance is in the upper part of Machu Picchu near the Guardhouse. After passing the checkpoint, you hike up in the direction of the guardhouse three times on the left side until you arrive at the main trail that leads to the Sun Gate (Intipunku). Then continue hiking this trail for about 5 minutes until you see a sign that says Machu Picchu Mountain and turn to the right. You will see a set of long stairs going upwards until you arrive at the checkpoint. The total time from the main entrance of Machu Picchu to the gate of Montaña is about 25 minutes.

Is Machu Picchu a mountain?

Machu Picchu citadel and the mountain, also known as Montaña, are not the same: Machu Picchu citadel is an archeological site. Both Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain are extra hikes, and you need to get a permit for each one ahead of time.

Is Machu Picchu Mountain Dangerous?

The trail is steep in some parts of the mountains with stairs and can be dangerous; you must always be careful and follow your tour guide’s signs and instructions.

Is the Montaña hike worth it?

The climb to Montaña Machu Picchu could be challenging. The sun is strong and you might wander in the middle of the trail wondering “why am I doing this?”. You will find the answer once you reach the mountain top and have a fantastic view of Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and the surrounding mountains.

What are the entry times?

First Shift: Machu Picchu opens at 6 a.m., and Montaña is open from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Second Shift: Machu Picchu opens at 7 a.m./Montaña opens at 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Where can I book the Machu Picchu tickets?

To book Machu Picchu tickets, we require your passport details; choose the entry shift, the number of travelers, and enter your details. Every booking needs to be confirmed manually. Please note that Machu Picchu is subject to availability; tickets are only guaranteed after confirmation within 24 hours of submitting the booking.

You can also add a private tour guide for Machu Picchu, bus tickets, and if you would like the train tickets quoted, please get in touch with us at info@trexperienecperu.com or +51957011937 (WhatsApp or Signal).


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Map of Machu Picchu and Montaña

Map of Machu Picchu Mountain

 

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