City: Machu Picchu, Cusco // Category: Machu Picchu // Reading time: 7 min
When you arrive in Aguas Calientes, the village next to Machu Picchu, you will already feel the magic in the air! Soon you will visit the ancient Machu Picchu ruins and maybe also climb up Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu. Talking about the hiking options, what are the differences between the two and which ticket do you have to get for each option? After having read this article, you will know the most important info about the hikes and the respective differences of Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu so that you can see which hike is the most suitable for you.
Before we start, I’d like to clarify that Machu Picchu Mountain is not the same as the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, also known as the Machu Picchu ruins. As you can see in the picture below, the Machu Picchu ruins (2430 m) are located between the Huayna Picchu (2693 m) and the Machu Picchu Mountain (3082 m).
There are 3 different sites to see:
- Huayna Picchu Mountain
- Machu Picchu Ruins (archaeological site)
- Machu Picchu Mountain
View from the Machu Picchu Mountain
Differences between Machu Picchu Mountain & Huayna Picchu
Machu Picchu Mountain has an elevation of around 3082 m above sea level, whereas Huayna Picchu (2693 m) is almost 400 m lower. As both mountains are quite high and the respective hikes require some physical exercise, it is very important that you get acclimated properly so you don’t suffer from the altitude sickness. Some of the symptoms are shortness of breath, nauseas or little headaches; something you definitely want to avoid during your vacation.
Hiking Time + Length:
Before you decide which mountain is the right fit for you, you should evaluate the hiking time required and the corresponding length of the hike. Climbing Machu Picchu Mountain takes around 2.5 - 3 h (both ways) and the length is around 2 km (1.25 miles).
The hike to Huayna Picchu takes less time (1.5 - 2 h for both ways) but the distance is the same (2 km / 1.25 miles). However, you should definitely be aware that the hike is a very steep and especially narrow path.
On the one hand, hiking Machu Picchu mountain is a moderate hike as you hike on a regular path. Some travelers prefer it because it is not as steep as the Huayna Picchu and the paths are wider.
On the other hand, hiking Huayna Picchu is moderate to difficult, because the mountain is -as already said- very steep and you have to climb many steps to get to the top. This hike is not recommended if you are afraid of heights or if you are not in a good physical shape.
On the way up to Machu Picchu mountain, you won’t see any archaeological attractions.
However, during your hike to Huayna Picchu, you will be able to witness the ancient agricultural developments of the Incas, the Andeneria systems - a group of earth patches arranged in steps on hills to be used in the sow. You will also pass by the amazing temple of the moon, a temple built in a natural cave. You have to see it with your own eyes in order to believe it!
Machu Picchu Ruins
Both mountains offer you an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding mountain landscape. When you made it to to the top of Huayna Picchu, you will be able to see the Machu Picchu ruins and Machu Picchu mountain.
Conversely, from the top of Machu Picchu mountain, you can see the ruins of the ancient city and Huayna Picchu in the back. Therefore, you will find amazing spots to take your unforgettable picture at both sites.
For Machu Picchu mountain, the first group will start at 07:00 - 08:00 am and the second group at 09:00 - 10:00 am.
People wanting to climb Huayna Picchu mountain start at 07:00 - 08:00 am and the second group will go at 10:00 - 11:00 am.
Please note that these are just the starting times, you do not have to finish the hike within one hour.
Amount of visitors:
You have to keep in mind that for both mountains there are only 400 daily tickets available. Therefore, it is recommended to make the reservation as early as possible.
The 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 Huayna Picchu, 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 usually is quite high which is why often you need to book it at least 2-3 months (depending on when you want to do the hike) in advance. Also, whereas Machu Picchu mountain doesn't require a minimum age, you need to be at least 12 years old in order to hike Huayna Picchu
|Machu Picchu Mountain||Huayna Picchu|
|Elevation||3082 m||2692 m|
|Hiking time & length||2.5 - 3 h hiking (both ways) and the length is around 2 km (1.25 miles)||1.5 - 2 h hiking (both ways) and the length is around 2 km (1.25 miles)|
|Difficulty||Moderate||Moderate - difficult|
|Archaeological sites||None||Ruins & Temple of the moon|
|View||Stunning view over Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu in the background.||Amazing view over the panoramic landscape, as well as the Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu.|
|Schedule||1. Group: 07:00 - 08:00 Uhr||1. Group: 07:00 - 08:00 Uhr|
|2. Group: 09:00 - 10:00 Uhr||2. Group: 10:00 - 11:00 Uhr|
|Amount of visitors||400 daily tickets available (200 people per group)||400 daily tickets available (200 people per group)|
Recommendations for the hike
No matter which hike you will choose, it's highly recommended to have good hiking shoes (especially for Huayna Picchu). If it rains, the path can get quite slippery and you don’t want to injure yourself.
Besides, you should bring trekking poles, a hat, sunglasses, sun protector, insect repellent, water, snacks, good hiking shoes, and a camera. Furthermore, remember that you are in the mountains and in the mountains, the weather can change very fast. The same holds for the weather at Machu Picchu, which is why it is crucial to wear various layers of clothes so that you are prepared for different scenarios.
In case you are planning on visiting Machu Picchu in high season, make sure to book everything in advance as the demand can be really large. Apart from Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain tickets, you also need the general entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, train tickets and bus tickets. Feel free to check out our guided Machu Picchu day tour which includes all of the above so that you can enjoy a hassle-free experience.
Machu Picchu mountain or Huayna Picchu?
Undoubtedly, visiting Machu Picchu when in Peru is a must. The hike to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain is the cherry on the cake.
When visiting Machu Picchu mountain, you will have more time to explore the ruins as the hike is closer to the ruins than Huayna Picchu. This hike is the perfect choice for you if you want to get a panoramic picture of Machu Picchu’s ruins with Huayna Picchu in the background. For that, you will need to be in a good physical shape. As Huayna Picchu is the more popular option, most of the time it’s easier to get tickets for Machu Picchu Mountain.
Hiking Huayna Picchu itself is a lot steeper and narrower, but it’s the right choice for you if you want to “feel the adventure” of the ancient Incas and if you are not afraid of heights. The view from the top is also amazing, but as many people want to climb up it can sometimes get a little crowded in the beginning (especially as the path is quite narrow). If you decide to take on this hike, make sure to book your tickets months in advance and you will be fine.
No matter which option you end up choosing, we can guarantee you that you can’t make a bad decision as both hikes will reward you with amazing views. But be aware of the Machu Picchu weather. Have you done one of the hikes already? If so, let us know about it in the comments!