Huayna Picchu Hike
- 400 people allowed daily
- 2 groups – first departing at 7am (200), second at 10am (200)
- About 1.5-2 hours up, and about 45 minutes to 1 hour down
- Separate entrance ticket with additional fee, with very limited availability
Huayna Picchu, which means “young mountain” in Quechua, is the massive mountain overlooking Machu Picchu itself, as seen in the background of all the classic photos of Machu Picchu.
Many people consider the stonework and engineering at Huayna Picchu to be some of the very finest, carved into the sheer face of a granite wall leading up to the top of the mountain. It is a steep and strenuous climb, with narrow paths and extreme drop offs. If you have vertigo, this is not recommended. On a clear day the bird’s eye views of Machu Picchu are breathtaking and really give you a sense of the magnitude of the site; on cloudy days sometimes you cannot see Machu Picchu.
Huayna Picchu is part of the park of Machu Picchu, but requires a separate entrance ticket with additional fee. It is not easy to get an entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu and should be done as far in advance as possible.
There are several excellent alternatives to hiking up Huayna Picchu if you aren’t able to obtain the ticket or don’t like crowded, steep, narrow paths. Click the tab “Alternative Hikes at Machu Picchu” on this page to view other considerations.
Alternative Hikes at Machu Picchu
Alternatives to Climbing Huayna Picchu
Being such an elaborated and outstretched site, obviously many people would like to get a Birdseye view of the site. The most famous and known way to see the site of Machu Picchu from above is from the towering mountain behind Machu Picchu, namely Huayna Picchu. Nevertheless as the entrance rules and fees for Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu have changed recently for many people this is no longer an option. For more information about Huayna Picchu, please click here.
Therefore we would like to provide you with some alternatives to climbing Huayna Picchu and seeing Machu Picchu from above. Located on a mountain ridge surrounded by even higher mountains you can imagine that there are several ways to see Machu Picchu from above. Following we will mention 3 alternatives for great views on the site and at times much less crowded than Huayna Picchu itself.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu means Old Mountain and this mountain reaches even higher than Huayna Picchu itself. Machu Picchu Mountain is another hike out of Machu Picchu that is very popular. From the top you have the same type of aerial view of Machu Picchu that Huayna Picchu affords. The climb is a little longer but less steep and less crowded. It still has steep spots with narrow precipices and is by no means an easy route, so it is not recommended as an alternative to the Huayna Picchu climb for those suffering from a fear of heights. It takes between 1 to 2 hours.
Machu Picchu Mountain is part of the park of Machu Picchu, but requires a separate entrance ticket with additional fee, and the ticket should be secured as far in advance as possible.
Sun Gate (“Inti Punku” in Quechua)
The best hike for those with vertigo, aversion to crowds, or looking for a hike less strenuous than Huayna Picchu is walking from Machu Picchu up to the Sun Gate, which allows you to stand at the very spot that those who hike the classic Inca Trail are greeted with for their first view of the historic Lost City of the Incas, and offers the most famous view of Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail trekkers are usually there at sunrise, so by 9 am it is nearly empty. The hike takes between 1 to 1.5 hours up and about an hour or so down.
The Sun Gate does not require a separate entrance ticket.
Another excellent side hike is the walk to the Inca Bridge, around the western side of Machu Picchu Mountain and with great views down valley to the jungle beyond. The path takes you to a view of one of the Inca’s many marvelous civil engineer mountain projects – a path carved out of a sheer, granite face of the mountain, passable only by a wooden log that spans the gap in the path. Below it is a sheer drop of thousands of feet of vertical, down to the river below. By simply removing the bridge, the Incas had ultimate control over who entered the sanctuary. The hike is pleasant and not quite as exposed as the others.
The Inca Bridge does not require a separate entrance ticket.