The ruins of Machu Picchu: climbing the Huayna Picchu
You have surely seen a photo of Machu Picchu before. The mystical ruins of the citadel lie quietly in the endless Sacred Valley. Lush green and dense jungles surround the holy place, massive mountain ranges in the background are eye-catching.
So is the dome-shaped peak towering in the centre of the archeological site: Huayna Picchu. This steep rock is worth a visit itself. We tell you what you need to know before climbing up for amazing views over Machu Picchu and the Andes landscapes.
You thought the views from the citadel of Machu Picchu are incredible? Walking up the stairs towards the peak of Huayna Picchu grants you insane views over all of Machu Picchu from above, realizing the whole magnitude of this place. Since Huayna Picchu is lonely in the centre of this part of the valley, you have astonishing 360° views during your hike up.
You are looking down at massive rivers streaming in the far-down valley, having panoramic views of the jungles as you have not had them before. The mountain summits of the valley are extremely steep and rough, as you will notice from the top. Everything seems super far away, as if you were on a plane. A hike well-worth the exhaustion.
It is a Challenge
Huayna Picchu is nothing for faint hearted. Extremely steep stairs lead up to the peak that is located about 360 meters or 1.200 feet above the ruins of Machu Picchu. You only have about three hours to visit the ruins on top.
If you are doing sports regularly you should be able to walk up and down in a total of two hours, slow walkers might need an extra one. On your way further up you have to conquer different obstacles like the Huayna Picchu Tunnel.
The tiny tunnel-like entrance was constructed by the Incas to keep enemies out. In parts you have to crawl, when it is rainy this might especially be challenging. Don’t underestimate this hike.
The Death Stairs
The famous last stairs leading up to the peak of Huayna Picchu are also called “death stairs”. Steps in an angle of nearly 60° are situated right next to an abyss of thousands of meters down to the valley.
You don’t have to be scared walking up those stairs, but a certain amount of caution is definitely needed since there is nothing to hold on to. If you are afraid of heights and get dizzy easily looking down, you should consider staying down at Machu Picchu.
Book on Time
Machu Picchu has about 2.500 visitors everyday. The hike up to Huayna Picchu although is only limited to 400 people. Hikers need to get their tickets in advance for the best views over the citadel and its surroundings. You can choose to leave to the peak at either 7am or 10am and return three hours later.
Short and Long Trail
After you made your way up to the peak, took some incredible photos and relaxed having a sip of water and a bite of a bread, you can either decide to take a short or a longer way back.
The short way takes you down a few steep stairs eventually merging with the original path you already came up with. If you decide to take the full trail you will come around the back of Huayna Picchu, passing the stunning ruins of the Moon Temple and the Gran Canvern.
Today no one knows what the purpose of the structures were. But stand in there, and let your imagination do the rest.