Hiking Machu Picchu Mountain: The Ultimate Guide

Hiking Machu Picchu Mountain: The Ultimate Guide

Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983 and an iconic symbol of the Inca Empire, is hidden deep in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Built in the fifteenth century, this historic citadel continues to fascinate tourists from around the world with its remarkable architecture and historical significance.

Rising above these well-known ruins is Machu Picchu Mountain, a high peak offering brave hikers an unforgettable view of the ancient site and its surroundings. In this post, you’ll discover everything you need to know before adding this hike to your unforgettable Machu Picchu tour.

Table of contents:

How to Get to Machu Picchu Mountain

girls standing next to each other in front of terraces of Moray while holding with one hand their hats

Before starting the hike,let’s first go over how to get there. The nearest city with an airport is Cusco, from where you’ll travel to Machu Picchu. Direct flights are available from major Peruvian cities such as Lima to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco, as well as from select international locations. If you’re joining one of our Machu Picchu tours, you have two options for getting to Aguas Calientes.

The first option is to visit the Sacred Valley first, where you’ll explore Moray, Maras, and Ollantaytambo. At the end of this tour, you’ll take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. This option has the great advantage of allowing you to enter the site the next morning before the crowds arrive, providing a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

travelers sitting in standard expedition train while watching outside of the window

The second option is that our driver will pick you up early in the morning from Cusco and take you to the train station in Ollantaytambo, from where you’ll board the train to Machu Picchu. Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), you’ll need to switch to a 20-minute bus ride that regularly runs from the city center to the main entrance of Machu Picchu.

Once inside Machu Picchu, follow the signs to reach the starting point of your hike up Machu Picchu Mountain. The starting point is located within the main complex and is a short walk from the entrance through the lower areas of the citadel.

Depending on your arrival time and preferences, you can choose to visit Machu Picchu first and then the ruins, or vice versa.


The Hike to Machu Picchu Mountain

view on machu picchu ruins

Duration and Distance

The hike to Machu Picchu Mountain is 2.5 to 3 hours long, round trip, and covers about 1.25 miles (2 km). There are many stone steps on a steep, rugged trail that makes the ascent difficult.


Difficulty Level

This hike, which rises to an elevation of roughly 10,111 feet (3,082 meters) above sea level, is rated as moderately challenging because of its steep incline. You should be in decent physical shape for this hike.


Viewpoints along the trail

Machu Picchu Mountain is an important historical landmark because it provides a view of the Inca site that emphasizes the citadel’s strategic and spiritual location.

Upon reaching the summit, you will enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views. From the top, views of the Urubamba River’s winding course, the Andes’ majestic peaks extending into the distance, and the entirety of Machu Picchu spread out below are all visible.


Tips for Pictures

Consider beginning your hike early to take advantage of the soft morning light for the best photos. Part of your Machu Picchu packing list should be a camera with a decent zoom lens so you can take pictures of far-off animals and landscapes. You’ll definitely want to take a lot of pictures because of the amazing scenery, so remember to bring extra batteries and memory cards.


Tips for Acclimatization

salt mines maras

Before starting the hike, spend a few days in the Sacred Valley or Cusco to reduce the effects of altitude sickness. In the early days, avoid intense physical activity, stay hydrated, and think about taking medication such as acetazolamide.

Hiking will be more enjoyable overall if you take it slow and give your body time to adjust.


Machu Picchu Mountain vs. Huayna Picchu 

view on machu picchu ruins and the bus way up

Choosing Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu for your hiking adventure can greatly influence your experience at the famous Inca citadel.

To assist you in selecting the adventure that best fits your preferences and level of fitness, here is a quick comparison with the key facts:

Machu Picchu Mountain Huayna Picchu
 Elevation3,082 m (10,111 ft)2,692 m (8,832 ft)
 Hiking time & length3.5 – 4h hiking (both ways) and the length is around 5.68 km (3.5 miles)3 – 3.5h hiking (both ways) and the length is around 4 km (2.4 miles)
Difficulty Moderate – difficultDifficult
  Archaeological sites NoneRuins & Temple of the moon
 ViewStunning view over Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu in the background. Amazing view over the panoramic landscape, the Machu Picchu ruins with the Machu Picchu Mountain and Sun Gate in the background.
 Schedule1. Group: 07:00 – 08:00 am
2. Group: 09:00 – 10:00 am
1. Group: 07:00 – 08:00 am
2. Group: 10:00 – 11:00 am
 Amount of visitors 400 daily tickets available (200 people per schedule) 400 daily tickets available (100 people every hour from 7 – 10am)

Still not sure which mountain to choose? Then learn more about the differences between Machu Picchu mountain and Huayna Picchu!


Preparing for the Trip

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu Mountain

The dry season (April to October) is the best time to visit Machu Picchu Mountain. You can expect a lot of sunshine, clear skies and average temperatures ranging from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F). This makes it the ideal time for exploring Machu Picchu mountain and to enjoy the stunning views.

But, as it’s also the busiest time, we suggest you make your reservations at least 2-3 months in advance to guarantee your ticket. Read about the weather at Machu Picchu to make sure you’re prepared for your trip.


Essential Ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain

highlighted machu picchu route 2 a

You’ll need the ticket Route 1-A of Machu Picchu Circuit 1 that allows you to enter the upper part of Machu Picchu and to hike Machu Picchu Mountain. Due to its limited availability, tickets must be bought well in advance—often months—before the planned visit.

The alternative to hiking Machu Picchu Mountain is Huayna Picchu, another beautiful hike that offers you breathtaking views of Machu Picchu. Read our blog post to learn more about the different Machu Picchu circuits, which will help you to make the right decision for your tour.


Machu Picchu Mountain Packing List

travel equipment such as yellow jacket, hiking boots and more

Packing appropriately for Machu Picchu Mountain is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Here are the essential items you’ll need for the trek.

  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking layers for varying temperatures.
  • Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Rain jacket as the weather can be unpredictable.
  • Hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
  • Warm clothing for cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Daypack to pack your essentials.
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated during your tour.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent to protect yourself.
  • Snacks that keep your energy levels high for the entire hike.
  • Camera to capture the stunning views.

For more in-depth information have a look at our Machu Picchu packing list.


FAQs about Machu Picchu Mountain

What Is Machu Picchu Mountain?

A peak in Peru that is close to the well-known Machu Picchu archaeological site is called Machu Picchu Mountain. Nestled at 3,082 meters (10,111 feet) above sea level, it provides breathtaking views of Machu Picchu and the Andes Mountains in the distance.


Where Is Machu Picchu Mountain Located?

It is located close to the town of Aguas Calientes in Peru’s Cusco Region. It is a part of the historical ruins of Machu Picchu.


How Difficult Is Machu Picchu Mountain?

The difficulty of the hike has been classified as moderate. A difficult ascent that involves numerous steps leads to the highest point of 3,082 meters (10,111 feet) above sea level. It is helpful to be in good physical condition.


How Expensive Is the Ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain?

The ticket price for foreign travelers (not Peruvian residents) is approximately USD $60.


How Long Does It Take to Reach the Top of Machu Picchu Mountain?

Depending on your fitness level and pace, the hike usually takes 3–4 hours total.


When Is the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu Mountain?

April through October is the best time to visit Machu Picchu Mountain. You will face less rain and more sunshine which contributes to an amazing time at the sanctuary.


How Can I Visit Machu Picchu Mountain?

To enter the Machu Picchu citadel and hike Machu Picchu Mountain, you have to purchase a special ticket. Tickets are limited, so reservations must be made in advance. If you join one of our Machu Picchu tours then we will take care of all your tickets.


What Is the Difference Between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain?

Huayna Picchu is a steeper, more well-known climb that offers views directly over the Machu Picchu ruins, while Machu Picchu Mountain is a higher peak with panoramic views. Separate tickets are needed for both. Read our blog post to learn more about the differences between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu.


Discover the Beauty of Machu Picchu Mountain: Planning Your Expedition

view on machu picchu ruins

Adding the hike to Machu Picchu Mountain to your Machu Picchu tour provides an unmatched experience full of amazing views, a wealth of historical information, and a close bond with the prehistoric Inca culture.

We’d recommend this hike to everyone that is in shape and has enough time in their itinerary to do the hike.

Are you ready to start out on this amazing journey? Contact us right now to arrange your tour and guarantee an impeccable trip to Machu Picchu Mountain.

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