machu picchu mountain in peru

From very early in the morning, you will be able to notice how visitors line up to enter the Inca citadel. Many who are early in line do so to enjoy one of the hiking trails. In general, everyone seeks to enjoy the Huayna Picchu mountain. But there is a route that is not so busy and much less difficult, with equally impressive views. We refer to Machu Picchu Mountain, one of the two mountains available to climb. If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, here we can show you some complimentary routes within your tour. Machu Travel Peru has prepared this article to be of help in everything you need to know about Machu Picchu mountain and other recognized treks.

Everything you need to know about hiking Machu Picchu mountain.

What is Machu Picchu mountain?

what is machu picchu mountain

Generally, inside a beautiful postcard, the mountain behind the famous Inca citadel is the Huayna Picchu, but the other mountain, Machu Picchu, is not visible. Why? Because the person who takes the photo is standing right on this mountain. Therefore, this mountain is located opposite Huayna Picchu, and in the middle of them, is the amazing citadel. Of course, if we had a Machu Picchu virtual tour, would be easiest to explain to you. Therefore, we made this complete article about the topic.

To clear things up. Like the name of the citadel, Machu Picchu could be translated from the Quechua language to “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak”. But, be careful, the mountain should not be confused with the citadel, despite both having the same name.

The Machu Picchu mountain is 3,082 meters above sea level, 400 meters more than citadel altitude, and it’s located over the southwest corner of the Machu Picchu archaeological park. It’s in the Cusco Region, province of Urubamba, Machu Picchu district, and its hiking offer amazing alternative views of the Machu Picchu citadel. It is not usually as demanded by tourists as its adversary Huayna Picchu mountain route (Which is located in front of it). But being less crowded, you could spend one of the best moments at the summit. You will be able to enjoy the incredible view of the citadel and its surrounding peaks.

The Machu Picchu Mountain trek is considered moderately challenging. But most say that the effort is fully rewarded with a panoramic view even better than Huayna Picchu. It is the highest mountain in the entire Machu Picchu area. To be able to enjoy this hiking route, you will have to buy an extra ticket next to the one with your entrance. This can increase your budget for the Machu Picchu trip cost, but, believe us, in the end, it will all be worth it. And in the same way with the tickets to the citadel, it is advisable to reserve them in advance. The hike is optional but offers some wonderful views of the Inca citadel. You will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the sanctuary and the surrounding landscape. In Inca times, Inca priests were believed to perform rituals on the top of the mountain.

A brief history of the mountain

machu picchu mountain history

The Machu Picchu Mountain was a site just as important as the citadel it accompanies. According to the studies of numerous academics, it was a very demanded path for the Incas. It is believed that it was used as a giant military checkpoint, where the citadel was protected against any threat from neighboring cultures. Although there is also some evidence of religious and spiritual ritual celebrations at the summit. Of course, all these are due to the Incas buildings found in the place.

Other theories also investigate the astronomical function of the mountain. According to these, here the scholars and high priests could study the cosmos, the constellations, and the different solstices that occurred. It could have been the climate study zone or future dates, too.

Although the original purpose of the road built on this mountain will always be one of the mysteries of Machu Picchu.

The Hiking: Step by Step

machu picchu mountain history

First, you have to follow the upper trail in the direction of the Caretakers Hut. The path is well signposted, so you can follow the small wooden signs. It is the same path that leads to the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu (Inti Punku). You may even see those who chose to enjoy the Inca Trail entering from there. From the entrance of Machu Picchu to the checkpoint Caretakers Hut, it takes about 30 minutes.

The path to the Mountain

machu picchu mountain path

Unlike the route that leads to the mountain of Huayna Picchu, this hike is much simpler but more extensive. In addition, it does not present major difficulties since it is well signposted. After the guardhouse or checkpoint, the trail climbs evenly for an hour. As you gain altitude, the path gradually gets steeper. As you go you can begin to enjoy the wonderful views. Note that the closer to the base, the steeper the trail becomes. Also, the steps get narrower and more challenging. If you continue for another 30 minutes, you will see a stone entrance. Later you will find a small cabin where you can take refuge and take a breath. And finally the beautiful viewpoint with the views of the wonderful Machu Picchu map and its surroundings. Walking this trail lasts approximately 4 hours and is more than 1600 steps to the top of the mountain.

Is it difficult?

machu picchu mountain climbing

It is relatively moderate to challenging, it will all depend on your physical condition and will to hike. The summit of the Machu Picchu mountain is 10,111 feet or 3,082 meters above sea level. Walking this trail lasts approximately 3 hours and is more than 1600 steps to the top of the mountain. If you are afraid of heights, you’ve never hiked before, you have previous heart disease or you’re overweight, it is not recommended to do this route. There are very steep sections that can make it difficult for those in vertigo. On the other hand, take note that Machu Picchu mountain is much less steep than the Huayna Picchu trail, its path is more well-signed and wide than that of Huayna Picchu.

The best time to hike it

best time to visit machu picchu mountain

Due to its steep paths, stone steps, and humidity of the place. Do hiking through Machu Picchu mountain in the dry season is highly recommendable. Remember that the Machu Picchu zone has two well-defined weather during the year. The rainy season (December to March) where hard rains, high humidity, and cloudiness will be common. The Dry Season (April – November) is characterized by clear skies, warm weather, and hard sunshine rays. Therefore, if you want to avoid slips, bumps, and some falls, the dry season is for you!

How to get your tickets

machu picchu mountain checkpoint

Normally, those who plan to visit Machu Picchu citadel must reserve their entrance tickets a few months in advance. And the same is true for those looking to climb Huayna Picchu mountain or Machu Picchu mountain. Because both have high demand, especially during the high tourism season, between March to November (Which coincides with the dry season). You can buy your tickets directly from the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco,

Another important aspect to be considered is that the entrances of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain never come alone, these always come united to citadel ones.

But be careful, the visit to the same Machu Picchu citadel is divided into 4 circuits. Circuit 1 allows you to visit the high part on the northwest side, the route is short and is useful to take the best pictures of Machu Picchu. Circuit 2 is the largest route and permits you to visit the entire citadel, it is the most demanded ticket. Circuit 3 allows visiting the low part of Machu Picchu, over its southwest side, it is a short path. And Circuit 4 is another short path that permits the visit of Machu Picchu over its low part, on the southeast side.

The Machu Picchu mountain never comes alone

machu picchu mountain ticket

Having clarified this issue, we can say that the ticket for Machu Picchu mountain has the following title: Montaña Machu Picchu + Circuito 3 (Machu Picchu mountain + Circuit 3). This means that you can visit the mountain of Machu Picchu and visit the citadel, but only in circuit 3 (The short circuit with a limited visit of the southwest side). According to regulation, you can not pass from one circuit to another in the middle of a visit, for this reason, there are park rangers in all areas of the citadel. Therefore, if you want complete Machu Picchu tours that include the visit to the mountain and the citadel, we recommend you buy two different tickets. The first one: Machu Picchu mountain + circuit 3. The second one: Machu Picchu citadel – Circuit 2 (The most complete route)

Price of ticket

machu picchu mountain control

The price of the entrance to the citadel (Circuit 3) plus the ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain can be around $54 for foreign adults. For underage persons (between 3 and 17 years old) the ticket cost $ 32.  For students, until 25 years old (Previous presentation of original University or Institute student card in the Machu Picchu control booth) the ticket cost is $ 34.

Schedules of visit

machu picchu mountain entrance

To enjoy Machu Picchu Mountain, you will have to choose one of the two available shifts. First, you must think about your list of the best things to do in Machu Picchu besides visiting the mountain to order your personal schedule, once get there. You have to bear in mind that with the new regulations, foreigners looking to visit Machu Picchu only have 3 hours available. But if you chose to complement your tour with some mountain hikes, you will have 8 hours to enjoy the complex. Since about 5 hours are allowed for the walk and about 3 hours to tour the citadel.

Saying that there are 2 schedules to visit the Machu Picchu mountain. One from 07:00 am – 08:00 am. And the other one is from 08:00 am – 09:00 am. Both are the ranges of time in which you can enter the mountain. Each schedule offers only 200 tickets of availability per day, making a total of 400 entrances per day, not more. Therefore, buying your entrances in advance will be our best recommendation for you.

07:00 am – 08:00 am

Within this shift, about 200 people a day are allowed to enter. This shift is perfect for those who decided to stay in Aguas Calientes the night before. It is advisable to be at the entrance of the citadel first thing in the morning and thus avoid long lines. The advantage of this turn is that once at the top, you can see how Machu Picchu fills up slowly with tourists. If you have this schedule of the visit, you can do the hiking to Machu Picchu first and after the visit to the citadel. If we forgot, this schedule is perfect for a honeymoon in Machu Picchu, too!

09:00 am – 08:00 am

As, in the first shift, only 200 people are allowed to enter. If you have just come on the train to Machu Picchu, it may be the best turn available. It is also usually the best turn for those who opted for the Inca Trail or some of the other alternatives to get to Machu Picchu. In this sense, you can visit the citadel first and after do the hiking to the mountain. It is important to note that the mountain is available until noon only. After noon, the others are forced to start going down. There is a ranger here who will not allow you to continue if it is afternoon.

What to pack for the hike

machu picchu mountain tips

If you are someone with a fear of heights, the walk can be somewhat dizzying. Besides that, the trail can be very steep. If you plan to enjoy this walk, the morning may be an ideal time. You will find cooler temperatures and sectors with more shade.

As for tips, we recommend not forgetting to take these essentials for your trip:

  • Raincoat
  • Hiking sticks or poles
  • Camera (A good idea would be to bring an additional SD card)
  • Sunscreen, sun hat, and sunglasses
  • 1 liter or 1.5-liter reusable water bottle
  • Light Snacks
  • Backpack
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Passport

Other alternatives and tips

machu picchu mountain alternatives

Another alternative to Machu Picchu vacations is the well-known Huayna Picchu mountain. This alternative is actually much more chosen by tourists. This is the famous peak found in all the well-known photos behind the citadel. It is actually a very popular option due to its additional Inca ruins such as the Temple of the Moon.

The Huayna Picchu hike is actually a much steeper one than the Machu Picchu mountain hike. It may even have some sections that are not for the faint of heart. As an advantage, the mountain of Machu Picchu can be a much more familiar option. You can enjoy it with the children or the little ones. Being chosen by the majority of tourists, it is more likely that the Machu Picchu tickets for this will sell out much faster. In the same way, if you do not tolerate crowded places, Machu Picchu mountain is ideal for you. The walk is calmer since there are not too many people on it.

Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu differences

Huayna Picchu mountainMachu Picchu mountain
LocationMachu Picchu NorthMachu Picchu South
Elevation8750 feet10112 feet
DifficultyHighModerate to high
Climb time01 hour approx. (one way)02 hours approx. (one way)
Tickets available400400
Schedules of visit4-time intervals2-time intervals
Allowed ages12 years or moreEverybody
It is best for…Young people and some with a good physical conditionEveryone including children, and old people with a good physical condition


Together with Machu Travel Peru, we hope this article has been useful to you. As you can see, being able to hike the Machu Picchu mountain is a unique experience. And it is usually a great alternative in case you cannot enjoy other treks to Machu Picchu. Both the Huayna Picchu mountain and the Machu Picchu are wonderful hiking trails. No matter which one you choose, you will be able to witness wonderful views of the citadel and the surrounding landscapes. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Our team of qualified consultants will be happy to help you organize the trip of your dreams. What are you waiting to organize your trip with us? Have fun in this wonderful country with your friends or family!

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!