Huayna Picchu mountain, also known as Wayna Picchu in Quechua, lays at the eastern end of the Salkantay mountain near Cusco, Peru. The famous peak behind the Inca city of Machu Picchu is also part of an Andean chain of mountains known as Batolito de Vilcabamba.
The Incas named Huayna as the Young Mountain. Huayna Picchu is also smaller vs. its much larger and older sister, Machu Picchu mountain. Most photos showcase the younger mountain vs. the bigger one that lies in the opposite direction.
The mountain is located right behind the Incas city ruins. Well know as it always shows as the background image of the sanctuary, it is a must on your list of mountains to hike during your visit to Peru. Make sure to book your tickets early as they sold out at least 4 months in advance. Feel free to call one of our adventure specialists to the number above for more information. Our top 10 list of Machu Picchu tours or Inca Trail treks will give you an overview of how you can combine visiting the best tourist destinations during your visit to Peru.
Getting to the starting point to start climbing this famous trail requires taking the minibus from Aguas Calientes to the entrance of Machu Picchu. From there you will access the main gate and walk through the ruins to a guarded gate where you will have to show your ticket along with your passport.
From the town to the entrance to the hike you should plan on about 40 minutes from the time you take the minibus. You can also do the trek as soon as you complete the Inca trail and enter the ruins through the sun gate.
The do the trek takes about 45 to 60 minutes, depending on your fitness level and weather conditions. The path to the top of the mountain is fairly narrow and steep made up of stone-step, cobblestones stones filled areas and cables. It is best to do the hike during the dry season which runs from May to early October.
At the top of the hike is the “Inca Chair” with you can access by walking through a large boulder. The views of Machu Picchu are spectacular. Not only you will get to see the famous ruins from the top, but also the snowy mountains of the Andes, the Salkantay, and the Urubamba river.
For those wanting to explore even further, you can continue your trek towards the Temple of the Moon. Archeologists believe that the site was used as a burial place for the Inca royalty. It is a softer but longer hike for we high you need to budget a total time of 3 to 4 hours round trip.
Climbing Huayna Picchu is a must if tickets are available. You will forever remember the experience every time you look at a photo of the ruins. For the return, you should plan about 2 hours of travel time from the peak to the town of Aguas Calientes. Allow enough time based on your train schedule back to Cusco.
Tip: In terms of the best photography opportunities, it is probably better to hike “the other one mountain”, Machu Picchu Mountain, as it will offer a spectacular view of both the sanctuary with Huayna Picchu in the background.
This famous section of the hike to the top of Huayna Picchu is made up of stone steps constructed by the Incas. The slope is very steep and the stair reaches a length of 600 feet. Going up, you will have a wet wall on your right and a several hundred feet drop on your left. Coming down you will enjoy a spectacular view of the Incas citadel and Urubamba river.
The peak is at 8,858 ft., about 885 ft. elevation gain from the sanctuary, sitting at approximately 8,000 ft above sea level.
In comparison, the path to climb Machu Picchu mountain is less steep, wider and less dangerous. Yet, it is higher than Huayna Picchu, reaching a peak at almost 10,500 – an elevation gain is about 2,500 ft from the ruins. Make sure you have fully adjusted to the altitude in Cusco or the Sacred Valley.
There are 400 tickets available divided into two groups of 200 each. The first group can access the trek between 7 am and 8 am. The second group has to enter the path between 10 am and 11 am. Each group has a total of 4 hours to explore the mountain and nearby sites.
The entrance tickets can only be bought as an add-on to the Machu Picchu sanctuary pass. It typically costs about $72 per person but this can change at any time.
Please keep in mind that tickets do sell out about 4 months in advance. No exchanges or refunds are allowed. Just make sure the information provided to the company leading your Peru tour is correct.
Tip: There is no overnight allowed with the ruins of any of its surrounding mountains.
Hiking Huayna Picchu can be done for almost all levels of hikers. As long as you take your time and don’t rush through some of the more steep areas, you will more than glad that you did when looking at photos of your adventure.
Depending on your personal fitness level and the weather on the day of your hike, it should take between 45 to 90 minutes for the round trip. Of course, this timing reference does not take into account how long you stay enjoying the views once you reach the top.
Climbing only requires purchasing a ticket that runs about $72 per person. You are not required to hire a guide or anybody to help you. It’s a great solo hike.
The mountain is considered the younger and smaller mountain vs. Machu Picchu Mountain – not to be confused with the sanctuary. The biggest difference is that Huayna is around 2,500 feet lower than it’s higher sister mountain. Please see the Elevation section above for more details.