When you get to Aguas Calientes, the town next to Machu Picchu, you will already feel the magic in the air! Soon you will visit the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and perhaps you will also climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain.
Speaking of hiking options, what are the differences between the two and which ticket do you have to get for each option?
After reading this article, you will know the most important information about hiking and the differences between Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain so you can see which hike is the most suitable for you.
Before starting, I would like to clarify that Machu Picchu mountain is not the same as the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, also known as the ruins of Machu Picchu.
As you can see in the image below, the ruins of Machu Picchu (2430 m) are located between Huayna Picchu (2693 m) and Machu Picchu mountain (3082 m).
There are 3 different sites to see:
- Huayna Picchu
- The ruins of Machu Picchu (archaeological site)
- Machu Picchu Mountain
Citadel of Machu Picchu
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu also known simply as «Machu Picchu». It is the main area to visit, this citadel is made up of many enclosures, temples, houses and agricultural terraces. A must see for all visitors who come to Cusco especially to this beautiful land.
Huayna Picchu Mountain
This mountain is the better known of the two, why? It is that mountain that appears in the famous photo that floods the social networks of 99.9% of the people who visit the lost city of the Incas. It is a mountain of 2693 meters above sea level and is located to the north of the citadel. The ascent and its return will take you approximately 2h30. How to get? Once in the citadel, you must go to the control booth located in the Huaraynas or Roca Sagrada sector. At the top, you can enjoy the wonderful view of the citadel and the entire valley as well as the also famous temple of the moon built inside a cave in the mountain. There are several hypotheses of the beliefs of the Incas with respect to the caves; the most famous: it connected them with the dead.
However, you will only be able to enjoy this temple if you first make the famous ascent that consists of 2 km of really chilling path and that will test your nerves and concentration. The roads are very narrow having to even hold with cables to the sides of the road. Our recommendation is if you suffer from vertigo, please do not try to climb; Similarly, if you are accompanied by children or older people, it is better not to do so.
The ascent to Huayna Picchu is only done with a ticket which must be reserved 6 months in advance (if you want to do it anyway) since access is limited to 400 people per day, divided into two groups of 200 and in the following schedules:
- First Group: 07:00 hrs. – 08:00 hrs.
- Second Group: 10:00 hrs. – 11:00 hrs.
Here the summary of data about Huayna Picchu:
- Restrictions: Only for people over 12 years old.
- Height: 2,720 m.s.n.m.
- Walking Distance: 2 kilometers of steep and narrow paths.
- Location: North of the Inca City of Machu Picchu.
- Description of the Trail: The trails are quite steep, you will need ropes to overcome some parts of the trail. You will cross stairways built in rock and wooden stairs; the road is visually terrifying.
- Access: From the Inca City of Machu Picchu, through the Sector de las Huayranas (Sacred Rock). Here you will find the entrance control booth to the Waynapicchu mountain.
- Number of visitors: 400 tourists per day.
- Walking time: 2 hours and 30 minutes (up and down).
- Degree of Difficulty: Moderate high. It is a steep mountain, with cliffs and many steps (not recommended if you suffer from vertigo).
- Archaeological Attractions: Andenería and the amazing Temple of the Moon, built inside a natural cave.
- Flora and fauna: Landscape of the jungle, abundant vegetation, which serves as a habitat for birds, butterflies and insects.
- Advantages: Some of the best panoramic views of the Inca City and the amazing mountain environment where it is located.
- Disadvantages: Overgrown cliffs, steep ascent, narrow paths.
Machu Picchu Mountain
The Machu Picchu mountain, on the other hand, is friendlier since its ascent characteristics are less «terrifying» than those of Huayna Picchu. The mountain also offers a great view of the citadel and the valley. It is at 3082 meters above sea level and it also has approximately 2km of ascent although it will take you a little longer to reach the top: 3h 20. The trails are much wider therefore, as we already mentioned, it is ideal to do it with children or older adults .
In the same way as Huayna Picchu, the Machu Picchu mountain needs a ticket to climb, which is a little more accessible since it can be booked only a few weeks in advance and 800 people are allowed to climb per day divided into 2 groups of 400 and the schedules are:
- First Group: 07:00 hrs. – 08:00 hrs.
- Second Group: 9:00 hrs. – 10:00 hrs.
Here the summary of data about Machu Picchu Mountain:
- Restrictions: Suitable for tourists of any age.
- Height: 3,082 m.s.n.m.
- Distance of the Walk: 2 kilometers where you will ascend approximately 300 vertical meters.
- Location: In front of Huayna Picchu and to the left of the traditional path.
- Description of the Trail: Abundant vegetation, the wild orchids stand out. The wide trails will allow you to walk them in a calm way.
- Access: From the Machu Picchu Complex, go up to the viewpoint (Guardian’s House), continue until the detour that is indicated by a sign.
- Number of visitors: 800 spaces per day.
- Walking time: 3 and a half hours (round trip).
- Degree of Difficulty: Moderate / high.
- Archaeological Attractions: None.
- Flora and fauna: You will find a variety of orchids, butterflies and birds.
- Advantages: Less steep trails, panoramic views of the Inca City and the Huayna Picchu Mountain.
- Disadvantages: It has no archaeological remains. It is difficult to get to the top.
Differences between the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu Mountain has an elevation of around 3,082 m above sea level, while Huayna Picchu (2,693 m) is almost 400 m lower.
Duration of the walk:
Before deciding which walk is the most suitable for you, you should evaluate the required walking time and the corresponding duration of the walk.
The trek to Machu Picchu Mountain takes around 2.5 – 3 hours (round trip) and is approximately 2 km (1.25 miles).
The walk to Huayna Picchu takes less time (1.5 – 2 h round trip) but the distance is the same (2 km / 1.25 miles). However, you should keep in mind that the path is very steep and especially narrow.
On the one hand, the trek to Machu Picchu Mountain is a moderate hike while walking on a regular trail.
Some travelers prefer it because it is not as steep as Huayna Picchu and the roads are wider.
On the other hand, hiking in Huayna Picchu is moderate to difficult, because the mountain is, as already said, very steep and you have to climb many steps to reach the top.
This hike is not recommended if you are afraid of heights or if you are not in good physical shape.
On the way to Machu Picchu mountain you will not see any archaeological sites.
However, during your hike to the Huayna Picchu mountain you will be able to witness the ancient agricultural developments of the Incas, the Andeneria systems, a group of patches of land arranged in steps in the hills that will be used in the cerda. You will also pass by the incredible Temple of the Moon, a temple built in a natural cave. You have to see it with your own eyes to believe it!
One of the main differences between these mountains is the landscapes they offer. Huayna Picchu offers one of the best panoramic views of the citadel. In addition, in the «New Mountain» you can find several archaeological ruins, crowned by the jungle flora and fauna of the place.
The «Old Mountain» or Machu Picchu, offers a totally different view of Huayna Picchu. Although the citadel can be seen from a greater distance, at this summit you have the possibility to admire the Sacred City, Huayna Picchu and the entire mountain range of this wonder. It should be noted that the Machu Picchu Mountain does not have archaeological remains, but it has a great diversity of flora and fauna.
For Machu Picchu mountain, the first group will start at 07:00 – 08:00 a.m. and the second group at 09:00 – 10:00 a.m.
People who wish to climb the Huayna Picchu mountain start from 07:00 to 08:00 am and the second group will go from 10:00 to 11:00 am.
Keep in mind that these are only the start times, you do not have to finish the hike within an hour.
Number of visitors:
You must bear in mind that for both mountains there are only 400 daily tickets available. Therefore, it is recommended to make the reservation as soon as possible.
Tickets for Machu Picchu Mountain are available most of the time. The 400 hikers are divided into 2 groups of 200 people in each group per day.
For the Huayna Picchu mountain, there is also a maximum availability of only 400 people per day and they are divided into 2 groups of 200 people in each group.
However, the demand for this ticket is usually quite high, so it is often necessary to reserve at least 2 or 3 months (depending on when you want to do the trek) in advance.
Also, while Machu Picchu mountain does not require a minimum age, you must be at least 12 years old to hike Huayna Picchu.
As shown in the information tables, both summits have a limit of visitors per day. Huayna Picchu receives only 400 travelers per day, so getting a ticket can be really difficult, because they sell out months in advance.
Meanwhile, Machu Picchu Mountain receives 800 daily travelers, making it much easier to find availability.
Can you do both mountains in the same day?
The answer is yes, it can be done but it is not recommended. Because the entry times to the mountains are very close, it is very difficult to combine both mountains in one day. In addition, you must bear in mind that the complex’s opening hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so when trying to climb both peaks, you could lose a lot of time, which you can use by touring the citadel (which after all, it is attraction).
Another issue is your physical condition, since both mountains require a lot of physical effort and climbing both could leave you exhausted.
In short, despite the desire you may have to reach both summits, we recommend taking only one. That way, you will take advantage of your time and fully enjoy the landscape.
How to buy the ticket?
Before buying your entrance ticket to any of the mountains, you should know that these are additional to the entrance to the citadel. This means that entrance to the citadel is mandatory to be able to buy your access to any of the mountains.
With this clear, there are two ways to get tickets for these mountains: through a tourist agency or on your own.
In any of our tours that visit the citadel of Machu Picchu you can add the optional of one of these two mountains.