Huayna Picchu mountain is located in the Machu Picchu citadel. It’s the tallest mountain you see in every Machu Picchu postcard yet it isn’t the tallest mountain in that range. It stands tall at 8,835 feet (2,693 meters) however Machu Picchu Mountain beats it at 10,007 feet (3,050 meters). The Huayna Picchu hike is a popular option for both those who are visiting Machu Picchu for the day and also the multi-day hikers. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Huayna Picchu hike.
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How to Hike Huayna Picchu
Reservations are required in advance to hike Huayna Picchu. To obtain a Huayna Picchu hike permit you can purchase one through the government website. You can purchase your entrance to Machu Picchu there as well. If you’re going to do the Inca Trail hike you can ask your tour operator to add on the Huayna Picchu hike for you.
You’ll want to make your reservation as much in advance as possible hiking Huayna Picchu is a popular option. Only 400 people can hike Huayna Picchu per day. The permits are split into two different time slots, 7-8 am and 10-11 am. Since the hike is limited reservations book up quickly.
Best Time to Hike Huayna Picchu
You might be wondering what that best time to hike would be. This depends on the time of year and weather, there are pros and cons to both. If you’re hiking Huayna Picchu during the dry season of May to October you might want to opt for the earlier hike to avoid the heat. However, the early mornings are known for drawing in the fog.
The upside to choosing the 7-8 am time slot is that the Machu Picchu citadel will be less crowded. Opting for the morning hike also means that you won’t run into any hikers coming down on your way up.
I did the 10-11 am time slot but that wasn’t by choice. My tour operator took care of my reservation in advance. It was a hot day but the weather was also amazing so it worked out great.
What to Bring
There are three important things you’ll need if you’re hiking Huayna Picchu, water, sun protection, and layers. It’s a shorter hike so a snack isn’t needed however to keep your energy up you might want to bring a protein bar. Electrolytes in addition to water will help you keep hydrated.
Weather is very fickle at Machu Picchu. It can rain and then the sun appears the next minute. You’ll want to always keep this in mind during your entire Machu Picchu visit. and that’s why it’s important to wear layers and be prepared especially if you’re visiting during the wet season.
Water – at least a liter but up to two liters when it’s hot, take in a hydration pack or insert a water bladder into your backpack
Hat and/or sunglasses
Waterproof jacket and other layers as needed
Insect repellent with DEET or go plant-based – at the very top there are a ton of insects
Camera and/or GoPro
How Scary is the Huayna Picchu Hike?
The Huayna Picchu is definitely not for anyone who has a severe fear of heights. And you may want to pass if you suffer from vertigo. However, the hike isn’t intense as it may seem based on photos and videos. Yes, you are high up and there are some steep drop off, but there are guard rails and if you hike at your own pace this is doable.
No, I don’t think the Huayna Picchu hike is scary and I do have a slight fear of heights. However, I hiked on a clear day. Weather can play into how scary or difficult a hike can be so if you’re not comfortable it’s better not to attempt the hike.
Do I Need to Be Fit to Hike Huayna Picchu?
Huayna Picchu isn’t exactly a walk in the park but you don’t need to be a fitness junkie to make the climb. The Huayna Picchu hike is mostly stairs that can make just about anyone a bit winded if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. This is why acclimated for at least a couple of days in Cusco is highly recommend. Definitely stay hydrated and drink coco tea. This will help tremendously. It’s also suggested that you talk to a doctor before your trip so that you can get altitude sickness medication if needed.
To get yourself prepared for the Huayna Picchu hike start hiking at home when you can. But more importantly, take the stairs when it’s an option. This is the best way to prepare for the hike. The hike itself isn’t very long but requires the stamina to climb many steps.
Huayna Picchu Hike Overview
Elevation: 8,835 feet (2,693 meters)
Length: 1.2 miles (2 km)
Approximate Time: 1 to go up, 40 minutes to go down
Hiking Times: 7-8 am and 10-11 am
Quechua Name: Wayna Picchu
Trailhead: Near the “Sacred Rock” about a 20-minute walk from the main gate
I hope this guide helps you during your adventure hiking Huayna Picchu and your adventures in Peru. It’s an absolutely incredible view of the Machu Picchu citadel and an experience to remember.
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