guide huayna picchu 2023

Among the most impressive hiking trails in Peru, there are a few in the vicinity of Cusco that are really fantastic, like the Huayna Picchu hike. This imposing mountain can be seen behind all the famous photos and postcards of Machu Picchu. The advantage of climbing it is the impressive panoramic views of Machu Picchu that you will have from another angle. Also, this famous hiking trail is usually visited by hundreds of tourists daily. And, for this reason, together with Machu Travel Peru, we have decided to prepare a complete article about this quaint mountain. In this way, you will know in depth what awaits you when you undertake this imposing route among other Machu Picchu tours.

Everything you need to know about Huayna Picchu mountain

Huayna Picchu

huayna picchu mountain adventure
Trip distance2.5 miles or 4 kilometers (Round trip)
Trip time01-hour climb up / 45 minutes descend
Elevation gain1,000 feet or 360 meters
Top elevation8,835 feet or 2,693 meters above sea level
DifficultModerate to hard
Not recommendableChildren under 14 years old, elderly people and vertigo people

Huayna Picchu is the pointed, cone-shaped mountain behind the citadel. It appears in any of the different classic Machu Picchu postcards, and its trek is one of the alternatives to Machu Picchu that you can’t miss! Besides having new view of Machu Picchu citadel from its top, you will discover new Inca rests. Like the Moon temple and beautiful landscapes during its tour. At first glance, it can seem like a very challenging mountain hike. But, technically, it is not that difficult. Although the climb will be very steep and lasts 01 hours, the descent will be easiest and lasts 01 hours. Despite it being a climb suitable for all audiences, maybe children, elderly people, and people with vertigo suffer. So it is advisable not to realize it with them.

A. What does Huayna Picchu mean?

huayna picchu sign

The name can be translated, literally, like Huayna equal to Young, and Picchu equal to Mountain. The Young Mountain would be the exact translation of its Quechua name, in contrast to the citadel in front called the lost city of the Incas or Machu Picchu (The old mountain)

Unfortunately, the Inca culture didn’t leave a well-defined writing system to be able to know the names of their citadels, fortresses, and temples inter alia, with precision. For this reason, there are two forms to write the mountain name: Huayna Picchu or Wayna Picchu. In this sense, this name, deduced from local historians and Spanish chroniclers, is an approximation of his real name.


huayna picchu mountain reaching the top

Huayna Picchu is an ancient mountain located 2 kilometers at north of Machu Picchu citadel, inside a tropical zone (Jungle eyebrow), with an altitude of 2693 meters above sea level, and surrounded by the Vilcanota River. It is in Urubamba province, department of Cusco, south zone of Peru. Which can be found in Inca buildings, and a famous trekking route to its top. Therefore it is not a surprise to feel hot and humid weather there.

A. Mountain elevation

the ruins of machu picchu huayna picchu

This stepped mountain stands at a height of 2693 meters above sea level. Its elevation gain from the ground is 1,000 feet (360 meters) and the total distance to trek, going up and down, is 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers.

Getting there

how to get to huayna picchu

If you see a Machu Picchu map, getting to the “young mountain” is easy once you get to the same entrance of all the complex. Your Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu and passport entrance ticket will have to be shown at the same entrance of Archaeological Park. This ticket entitles you to visit Machu Picchu, only by Circuit 4, and after visit the Wayna Picchu mountain.

The trek starting point to this mountain is located on the north side of Machu Picchu, behind the Sacred Rock sector. Therefore, you will have to cross Machu Picchu, following Circuit 4 which has 940 meters of distance, and appreciate some interesting parts of the lower part of the citadel before getting to the north zone where the control booth of this mountain is located. If you are going to make the trek, you will have to register at this point, showing again your entrance ticket and passport to the park guard.

Remember that Circuit 4 is one-way and once advanced you cannot go back. Additionally, once you leave Machu Picchu to enter Huayna Picchu, you cannot turn back to enter the citadel again.

The hike

wayna picchu sign

If you are still wondering? Yes, you can hike Huayna Picchu this 2024. The hike to the top of the mountain takes long around 120 minutes, approx. 60 minutes to climb up and the rest to descend approx. Throughout a 4 km round trip. Everything will depend on your physical condition and your previous acclimatization. Also, you will have to be careful and take some precautions. Since the staggered steps can be slippery when wet by the rain. That is why we will have to try to avoid the rainy season (from December to March) at all costs if we want to make this trek that has a moderate to challenging level.

1. Starting the hike

huayna picchu entrance

Leaving the control booth, you’ll find a soft descent that ends with a fork, the path on the right leads to Huayna Picchu, and the path on the left leads to Huchuy Picchu (a mountain whose route is shorter and easier to do).

The path of mountain, that is the subject of this article, zigzags for about 15 to 20 minutes (300 meters). Through the sacred mountain and continues up to where there is a small complex of Inca constructions. We can take a rest there for a few minutes. Next, continue the journey up the route, and we will find the route splits into two sections. One ascends the mountain, and the other descends it. The ascends trail stretches to the top, while the descending trail goes down around the base of the mountain to reach the Great Cavern and the Temple of the Moon, then it climbs steeply to the top of the mountain, equally.

2. The ascend

huayna picchu climb up

If we decide on the path right and go straight, we will find that the path is easy to follow since this is well-signed and it is only one direction, but many of its sections are quite steep. Initially, we’ll find some first stairs quite wide and comfortable that will take us up to a small summit, and after we’ll go down through a slight descent of a few meters to a small plain. Passing this plain, we’ll find other very steep stairs with very narrow steps. This is where the real challenge begins.

From time to time, the stairs rest in some areas of Inca constructions, in the middle of the mountain. There, one can rest and have different and awesome views of Machu Picchu in the distance. In this form, we can give way to other young climbers who follow the path without stopping.

3. Reaching the top

the top of huayna picchu

As we approach the top, we will pass some old agricultural terraces so inaccessible and so narrow that their value for agricultural purposes would have been unnoticeable for the Incas. It is believed that they were probably gardens for decorative purposes or had some structural function in general.

Finally, we reach the summit, we will have a unique view of the beautiful Machu Picchu over a rock slope. As this natural viewpoint is very small, many tourists can spend hours occupying the place taking selfies with Machu Picchu as a background and other photos. For this reason, a park ranger is in this area and acts as a traffic police officer. You are allowed to be in the place for a maximum of 20 minutes. So when you get to the top, make the most of your time there. This is only one of the many Machu Picchu facts that you have to know, but don’t worry, we have more tips and information in the following lines.

4. Descending

huayna picchu descending

The path descends around the mountain before plunging into the cloud forest where we started. At the initial descent, we will pass through a narrow tunnel, where we will have to crawl, practically. Some scholars claim that this tunnel could have been used as a trap for enemies or invaders since its cavity is very narrow, and dark and cannot be passed through quickly.

After, the descent is steep, and our knees will do most of the work there. Also, we will have the possibility of choosing a fork in the return road that will take us directly to the Moon Temple. (See the temple of the moon section)

Finally, we will then come to a cleared area where we will find some beautiful ruins to appreciate, a sign that the path is finishing.

When to visit it

best time to visit

Without a doubt, the best time to make the climb is in the Dry season (April – November), because you will have clear skies, sun, humid and hot weather, colorful vegetation, and most important, solid and dry paths to walk securely. On the other hand, the rainy season (December – March) presents a muddy and slippery path, with hard rains, cloudy skies, mosquitos, and sometimes a fog that will prevent you from having good views of Machu Picchu. But, in the same way, it will depend on your preference. As you can see, the best time to visit Machu Picchu is similar to visiting this mountain, too!


huayna picchu view

The visit to this beautiful mountain consists of a climbing trek that the Machu Picchu visitors use to do after visiting the citadel. But, Is it worth going to Huayna Picchu? Because of reaching its top, the mountain offers the possibility of a great alternative view of the Inca citadel. Great Inca citadel photos from another angle! Besides, the endemic flora, its special fauna, the stairway of death, and the famous Moon Temple, among other important amazing attractions., will surprise you!

1. Endemic flora

huayna picchu flora

As we mentioned, this awesome mountain, like Machu Picchu, is located in a tropical rainforest with a humid and warm climate. Therefore, this condition encourages the growth of special types of plants like Orchids, with more than 200 species located along all slopes of the mountain.

Other important representatives are the Bromeliads. These lithophytes are more related to pineapples, and you find them suspended in almost all the trees and bushes of the mountain. Also, you’ll find more than 60 types of ferns covering the ground, some stone walls, and trees.

2. Special fauna

huayna picchu fauna

Llamas grazing the green areas, lizards slipping between the lithic walls, some vizcachas looking for food, a great variety of birds, and even the amazing spectacled bears (if you are lucky) will be found mostly during dry and sunny days.

3. Amazing views

huayna picchu perfect view

Maybe the most important advantage of climbing the mountain will be the awesome views of Machu Picchu and the Vilcanota Valley, from another angle.

4. The stairs of death

picchu huayna

As its name indicates, these are several stepped stairways, with angles of over 60 degrees, that are located at the beginning of the route and a few meters before reaching the top. To walk over them has to be using the hands as extra support and is all an ordeal for overweight people, elderly people, children, and persons with vertigo. But don’t worry, there were no deaths reported from falling off the cliff or anything like that.

5. The Moon Temple

the ruins of machu picchu luna temple

This is the unique one of several natural caves with ceremonial niches well carved, intricate stoneworks, and elaborated perfect angles in its stone walls on the same mountain. Many scholars believe that this temple was used as an Inca sacrificial and ceremonial center. Even, it’s believed that mummies rested there. Remember that the Incas considered caverns and inhospitable sites as communication portals (Huacas) to contact their gods, sacred spirits, and dead people.


wayna picchu ticket
Circuit 4 + Waynapicchu TicketPrice
Foreign adult (From 18 years old and more)$50
Foreign underage (Between 03 to 17 years old)$30
International student (Under 25 years) Prev. show original univ. card$32
Andean Community of Nations (CAN) Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia$28
CAN underage (Between 03 to 17 years old)$20
CAN student (Under 25 years) Prev. show original univ. card$20

When you get your Machu Picchu tickets, be sure to also choose the tickets for the hiking route of your preference. You will notice that you can choose to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. In this way, if you choose the first one, your ticket will have to indicate: “Circuit 4  + Waynapicchu”.

By the way, you can buy your tickets on the official website of the Peruvian government Another important recommendation, booking your Huayna Picchu tickets at least 6 months in advance, these usually sell out quickly the closer the date of use is.

A. What is circuit 4?

machu picchu circuit 4

There are 5 circuits to visit Machu Picchu. Each one of them passes through unique and different attractions, these never cross between them and were designed for a unique type of visitant. For example, Circuit 1 passes through a large part of the citadel and it is destined for someone who wants to visit only the citadel. Instead, the second one passes only through the north zone of the citadel and is destined for people who can’t walk for a long time. Circuit 4 only passes by some attractions like Sun Temple, Condor Temple, and Sacred Rock inter alia. This short circuit is associated with Huayna Picchu’s visit (Both in one ticket).

Therefore, if you want to visit Machu Picchu completely, we recommend you buy another ticket for Machu Picchu with Circuit 1. In addition to the already existing Huayna Picchu + Circuit 4 ticket.


huayna picchu schedule visit

You can enjoy this mountain climbing at any time of the year. But you have to keep in mind that there are four-time slots available per day. In each shift, only about 75 people are allowed to make the route, taking a one-hour preview to enter and visit the Machu Picchu citadel. That is to say, if you have the ticket entrance to Wayna Picchu from 07 to 08 am, you can enter Machu Picchu one hour before (06 am) to visit the citadel (by circuit 4) and after, do the mountain hike in the range 4 hours, by beginning at 07 am. Consequently, the government makes it possible to access 325 lucky people per day to this wonderful mountain.

Range time to enter Huayna PicchuTickets availabilityPerfect for those people who…
From 07:00 – 08:00 am100Spend a night before in Aguas Calientes
From 08:00 – 09:00 am75Spend a night before in Aguas Calientes
From 09:00 – 10:00 am75Spend a night before in Aguas Calientes
From 10:00 – 11:00 am75Just arrive from Cusco

These schedules are essential when climbing the mountain. Depending on when you reach Machu Picchu, you will see what the best time is to climb the mountain. Either way, you can’t stay out of one of the best tours in Peru. Our recommendation is to take the two first schedules in the morning, with fewer crowds to climb and enjoy the views with more time.


travel tips for beginners stay safe machu picchu

There are some tips to follow if you want to enjoy the climb of this amazing mountain without any inconvenience.

  • As a minimum, buy your Huayna Picchu tickets 6 months in advance. As you can see, the schedules to visit the mountain and its high demand make full out the availability of tickets quickly. Therefore, buying anticipation your tickets through the website of the Machu Picchu office administration will be recommended, or contact a travel agency to plan a visit.
  • By law, a tour guide is necessary during your Machu Picchu tour, not so during your visit to “young mountain”. The government understands that most tourists want to visit the citadel to answer the only question, What is Machu Picchu? Therefore, they established a person to guide visitors during the citadel tour. And, usually, these tour guides accompany their clients until the start-point of the trek. From this point, the adventure is at the tourist’s expense. But don’t worry, the path is well-signed.
  • Before buying and taking the visit to the mountain, be honest with yourself. Remember, this trek has a level from moderate to challenging. Therefore, if you are not in good physical condition, you won’t make it. And the Machu Picchu mountain route can be perfect for you.
  • If you have children or older persons, see other options besides doing a Huayna Picchu visit. Because its trek demands high physical effort. See other things to do in Machu Picchu citadel like the Machu Picchu mountain or the short Inca Trail trek.
  • The dry season to do this trek is recommendable always. As we mentioned before, the rainy season can represent a true risk for visitors.
  • Wearing high-soled hiking shoes (to get good stability while walking on stone steps), lightweight pants, a t-shirt, and a raincoat, besides hats and hiking sticks will be the best. Other important implements can be repellent, sunblock, a bottle of water, and a fully charged cellphone for taking photos!

Alternatives hikes

huayna picchu route

As we mentioned before, usually the entrance tickets to the famous mountain are sold out 4 or 5 months in advance, and this is due to its popularity. Happily, there are alternatives surrounding the Incas citadel, if you don’t get entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu. These routes are the hike to Machu Picchu mountain, to Huchuy Picchu mountain, or to Putucusi Mountain.

1. Machu Picchu mountain

best time to visit machu picchu mountain

This eponymous mountain is located south of the Inca citadel. Its elevation is higher than Huayna Picchu (1,010 feet or 3,051 m.a.s.l) however its inclination is more horizontal, therefore, it is easier to climb it. Therefore, it is perfect if you are traveling with children, old people, or persons with vertigo. The climb time is around 02 hours and another couple of hours to descend.

This mountain, which shares its name with the Inca citadel, has two schedules of visits: From 07 to 08 am and from 08 to 09 am. Each one offers 50 tickets per day, making a total of 100 entrances per day. These entrances include the visit to the citadel, only by circuit 3. And these have costs similar to Wayna Picchu. The best time to do the Machu Picchu mountain is in the second schedule, in this form, you will visit the citadel, hike the mountain (around 4 hours) and go out from the citadel calmly.

2. Huchuy Picchu mountain

huchuy picchu visit

Until recent years, Huchuy Picchu was part of the walk to Wayna Picchu. Both mountains are together, at Machu Picchu north. However, the government managing office decided to create a new route for Huchuy Picchu. Its elevation is 8,193 feet or 2,497 m.a.s.l. Therefore, climbing it is easier than even the hike to Machu Picchu mountain. Take around a 1-hour climb up and 30 minutes more to descend by the same route. The path is mostly formed by stone stairways, mostly.

This mountain has 6 schedules of visits, from 7 am to 13 pm, distributed by hours (due to its short hike time). In the same way, it has its own entrance ticket and comes with the visit to the citadel included (only by circuit 4). The costs go from $39 per foreign adult, $20 per foreign student, and $18 per foreign underage. Definitely, this is another easy alternative to take the best photos of Machu Picchu with spectacular angles!

3. Putucusi mountain

putucusi climb up

Putucusi is a mountain located on the east side of the citadel. Being further away from the world wonder, it doesn’t have a checkpoint, park ranger, nor entrance ticket to visit it. Putucusi has more than 11,680 feet or 3,560 m.a.s.l. Its climbing is more vertiginous and difficult than the previous alternatives. So, it is reserved only for people with good physical conditions. The climb up takes around 02 hours and the descent has the same time.

To get there, the visitant has to follow the railways from Aguas Calientes heading Hydroelectric zone, go straight some footsteps until finds a “Putucusi mountain” sign, at the right hand. The first part of the route is a steep slope of stone stairs (around 600 meters or 1970 feet), the hiker has to be careful, a fall in the middle of this ascent would be fatal. The last part of the path is the same stone stairways in a zigzag over an even steeper slope. However, the photos obtained of Machu Picchu from its top will be fantastic! Route reserved only for adventures and people with good physical conditions.

How difficult is Huayna Picchu?

is wayna picchu safe to do

When you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu and the famous mountain, this is an important question. The hike to this famous mountain is hard and defiant. Happily, the route was implemented with steel rope handrails on the steepest parts of the stairs. Also, you will find signs and park rangers at the top of the mountain. Enough elements to be safe. Of course, if you have an old person, children, or friends with vertigo, we don’t recommend this kind of route.

Difference between Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain

machu picchu mountain path

Machu Picchu is the famous Inca ruins of Peru postcards. But, besides it, there are two mountains surrounding it, Huayna Picchu (north) and Machu Picchu (south) mountain. The first one always appears in photos behind the ruins and the last one shares the same name as the citadel, and both can be visited.

The path to visit Wayna Picchu mountain is very steep and demands extra effort from visitors to get to the narrow top. On the contrary, the Machu Picchu mountain path is more horizontal, its walk is done in more hours, the top is wider, and you will get amazing views from there, even better than the views of the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu.

So, which is better, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain?

machu picchu mountain footpath

If you are traveling together with your family, it is better to opt for Machu Picchu mountain (3051 meters above sea level) which is the easiest to do. But if you are in good physical condition and are looking for a challenge for you and your couple, better choose the Huayna Picchu trek. Your effort will be rewarded with spectacular photos of the Inca citadel and the entire Vilcanota valley from another angle. You can buy entrances for both mountains, but always in advance.


As you may have appreciated, Huayna Picchu mountain is a challenge to take. Especially if you are an adventurous soul, visiting the old citadel. Therefore, leave the Machu Picchu virtual tour that you can find on the internet and come to do the real experience. Machu Travel Peru hopes that this little article has been useful. If you decide to visit this imposing citadel, this hike should definitely be on your itinerary. To learn more about our travel programs, you can consult with our qualified team of advisers. They will be happy to help you plan your trip.

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!