Huayna Picchu, which means Young Peak in Quecha, the Inka language, is the large mountain you see in front of Machu Picchu in all the photos, for many people going to Machu Picchu is a dream and something to cross off the bucket list, but while there, you should consider a Huayna Picchu trek also.
Machu Picchu is located around four hours by train from the Inca City of Cusco. Machu Picchu is one of the most visited sites in Peru, if not in South America, with thousands visiting the sites every year. This makes the number of people in the high season a bit excessive and there are queues to get into the site, and you may have to wait up to an hour to get through the front gates. However, the high season has beautiful clear skies and the weather can be warm.
If you are considering the trek to Huayna Picchu, there are many things to know before you book your Machu Picchu tour and your Huayna Picchu tour.
There are two season in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area, firstly the dry season which is May to October, this is also considered as the high tourist season so there are many more tourists and tickets are much harder to get. The government of Peru only sells four hundred tickets a day so you will need to book earlier. The wet season, which is November to March, is also known as the low season, there are a lot less tourist and no lines. There are more tickets available to enter but also there is more possibility of rain.
You will also need to consider how you will get to Machu Picchu, there is the famous trails but also you may catch the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
The short Huayna Picchu trail is accessible to most people of most ages, but you will need to have a reasonable amount of fitness. The climb to the summit from the base of the mountain and is more strenuous than you may be expecting. From the summit to the Moon temple, there is a wooden ladder that you will need to climb.
There are two entrance times to Huayna Picchu every day, the first at 7am and the second entrance at 10am. Both times have their advantages, The earlier time is cooler, especially in the dry season when the days can get hot, but you may have fog on your trek making visibility difficult if you choose the early time. If you choose the later time, you will encounter a lot more people and the climb will be slower.
The climb is suitable for children but for younger children it may be difficult. Some of the stairs can be very steep and in the rainy season, they can be slippery. It takes the average hiker two to two and a half hours to reach the summit and normally around one hour to go back down.
After entering the gates of Machu Picchu you will have to sign in at the Wardens hut, so you will need your passport, the trail is well marked so you will not get lost.
Once you reach the top of Huayna Picchu the view are outstanding and you will get some great pictures once the fog has lifted.
However, if it is the view you are after and you cannot get tickets to Huayna Picchu there are alternatives to Huayna Picchu. The first being Cerro Machu Picchu. Also known as Machu Picchu Mountain, this is the largest mounting in the complex and it is directly across from Huayna Picchu. The trail is less crowded so a lot quieter than the Huayna Picchu trek and some say has better views. The trek takes around two and a half hours to the top and an hour to come back down. If you have more time and are a keen hiker, you should try the Putukusi Mountain or happy mountain trail, this is the more challenging of all the trails and you need to be fit to attempt this trek. This trail requires no permits but is only for those who are not scared of heights.
Lastly is the hike to Inti Punku, or the Sun gate, this short hike takes an hour each way but is up a very steep hill. If you do the Inka Trail you will enter Machu Picchu through the Sun gate, this short trek is also very rewarding, as the views are spectacular with not much effort.
When the hike is finished, you then can go on a tour and discover the Machu Picchu mystery, these tours generally take around two hours and after the tour is finished, you can explore the ruins on you own.
On a final note, climbing to Huayna Picchu is very challenging. The peak of the mountain is 8920 feet (2720 meters), but do not let this scare you, just take your time and enjoy the trek, there are plenty of places to stop and rest and don’t stress. The reward of finishing the trek will be one of the highlights of your trip to Cusco and Peru.