Which mountain to hike? Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
There are two mountains, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (also called Montaña Mountain) surrounding Machu Picchu that provide opportunities for hiking (and great views of Machu Picchu). But, as with all things Machu Picchu, it isn’t as simple as it first may seem. You must decide before you book your Machu Picchu tickets (or Inca Trail trek tickets that include your Machu Picchu entrance) whether you want to hike one of these mountains or not.
ALL ACROSS PERU is here to help you make sense of the options:
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Deciding which mountain to hike:
When you book your Machu Picchu tickets, there are actually 3 options:
- Machu Picchu entrance only
- Machu Picchu entrance + Huayana Picchu
- Machu Picchu entrance + Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña mountain).
You must pick one of these options when booking your tickets and it cannot be changed (meaning you cannot add on a hike up one of the mountains later). It adds about $15 to your Machu Picchu ticket to add on a hike.
So, first you have to decide if you want to add in a hike up one of these mountains at all. A few considerations:
- Time: Both hikes will take at least a couple of hours. It will make your tour of Machu Picchu shorter and that may be the whole reason you came to Peru in the first place!
- Fear of heights: Both of these hikes are steep and along edges that can test your fear of heights. If you have a fear of heights, stick to the Machu Picchu tour alone.
- Tickets already booked: If you already purchased your Machu Picchu tickets, you cannot add on entrance to either of the Mountains. So, you would have to buy a whole new ticket including the hike you want. If this is the case, there are plenty of other hikes you can do another day – just go and enjoy Machu Picchu!
If you decide YES, I want to hike! Now, you have to decide which mountain: Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain.
We’ve created this handy infographic to help you with the options.
Booking your tickets:
You’ve decided which mountain to climb – Congrats! Booking your ticket is also part of the adventure! First, it’s a good idea to book it as early as possible. During the High season (May – October), you’ll want to purchase tickets 2 months out. During the Off-Season (November – April), 1 month in advance should be plenty.
Next, you need to decide what time you want to climb as there are set times to start the hike.
- Huayna Picchu 1. Group: 07:00 – 08:00 a.m.
- Huayna Picchu 2. Group: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
- Montaña 1. group: 07:00 – 08:00 a.m.
- Montaña 2. group: 09:00 – 10:00 a.m.
To book your tickets, it is possible to do it yourself online at: www.machupicchu.gob.pe. You’ll need a visa card and it can be tricky to get right. If you’re not confident in the process, it’s really easy to use a local tour operator to book for you – They can often also book your train and bus tickets and when you arrive in Cusco, you can just pick up your tickets for everything. It costs a little more but the lack of stress can be priceless!
ALL ACROSS PERU Tips:
- Train for these hikes. Even though they are short distances, they are steep – The Incas didn’t seem to know (or care) about the switchback method of trail-building. Their trails go straight up and often require you to use both hands and feet to pull yourself up.
- Watch out for altitude sickness. If you start to feel the effects of altitude, turn around. The only way to fix altitude sickness is to descend immediately.
- Drink (and bring) lots of water. There are not places to buy food and drinks inside Machu Picchu. Bring plenty of water and snacks.
- Go to the bathroom before you start. There are not restrooms inside Machu Picchu. Use the restrooms right before you enter.
- Don’t be disappointed. There are many things that can interfere with your hike: Clouds, rain, time, sheer exhaustion. That’s ok. Enjoy the experience no matter how far you make it. After all, you made it to Machu Picchu and that is impressive enough! If you need tips for your entire Machu Picchu trip, check out our blog: 10 Steps to Machu Picchu
There’s one final hiking option that we must mention before we go – The walk to the Sun Gate is free, offers amazing views of Machu Picchu and will still get your heart pumping!
Let us know which hike you choose and how it goes!
Who is writing?
Hola! I’m Abigail, writer for ALL ACROSS PERU and lover of all things Peruvian! I live in Lima and you’ll often find me eating lomo saltado and sharing pisco sours with my patas (friends).