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Huayna Picchu
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Huayna Picchu mountain top

The Inca Trail is one of the most spectacular routes that can be done to reach Machu Picchu. We all know that Machu Picchu is considered a wonder of the modern world, but little is said about Huayna Picchu. Huayna Picchu is located very close to the iconic Machu Picchu. Some of the tourists who climbed up to this place mention that reaching the top of this mountain is the perfect complement to visiting Machu Picchu. In this blog, we will learn more about the Inca Trail hike in its two variations and how you can climb to the top of Huayna Picchu.


The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

If we are talking about the most popular trekking routes in the world, we have to talk about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This trekking route is one of the most complete because it offers a 4-day experience over the mountains that connect the Andes with the high jungle. Even if you think you don’t have enough time to do this trek for 4 days, it is possible to do a shorter section of only one day to Machu Picchu. On the first day of the trek, you will reach Machu Picchu, but you will only be able to see the site from the upper platforms. The tour will end in the afternoon and the energy will not be optimal for the tour. In addition, the tour schedule would not allow it. In this sense, the tour of the entire Inca citadel is done the next day, so this short tour lasts 2 days.

On the other hand, the classic route of the Inca Trail has to cover a distance of 43 kilometers in only 4 days. These will be distributed in 4 days of activities in the mountains of Cusco. An important factor of this tour is that few know that Machu Picchu is located in the high jungle, so, those who experience the Inca Trail route, can appreciate the change of geography that can be seen in the mountains that make up a beautiful landscape throughout the hike. That is, during the journey, hikers can leave the Cusco Andes behind to gradually enter the jungle and reach Machu Picchu. This change of geography is quite a spectacle.

In either of these two ways, when you arrive at Machu Picchu, it will be through the big door. Few know the Inti Punku. A striking, albeit small construction, which welcomes you to Machu Picchu. The Inti Punku is located between the vertex of two mountains and on the slope of the mountain from where Machu Picchu emerges. In this sense, from this place, you can appreciate the whole enclosure and how it harmonizes completely and naturally with its surroundings. When you take the classic route you arrive at the site during the early morning, that is why there is a double prize since you can appreciate the sunrise in Machu Picchu. While, by the short route, you arrive during the afternoon, which also offers a beautiful spectacle. At this time, it is possible to appreciate the sunset in Machu Picchu. Then, let’s know how it is to make the ascent to Huayna Picchu.


Heading to Huayna Picchu

On the way to Huayna Picchu
Ascent to Huayna Picchu by the Inca Trail’s own stairways
 

The ascent to Huayna Picchu is another adventure. It all begins after the tour of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Once you arrive at the Sacred Rock, you will find the visitor’s control point. It is in this place where you have to show your tickets to continue with the trek. We will explain this later on. Once you enter, you will find a path or trail typical of Inca architecture. That is to say, you can find a fixed section that harmonizes with the nature and geography of the place. It follows the sections of the Qhapac Ñam or the Inca Roads. Likewise, it is possible to find the stone stairways that little by little become more sophisticated.

There is a lot of talk about the safety of these sections. Some people misinform, mentioning that this is a dangerous route and that only the most prepared should do this ascent. The route is completely ascending, the road borders the mountain and there are quite steep sections. For this, you must ascend with care and preferably hold on to the steel ropes, arranged as handrails so that visitors or tourists can hold on and at the same time, take more momentum.

The first section serves to border the mountain of Machu Picchu and then connect with Huayna Picchu. This section has abundant vegetation which allows shady stretches that help a lot during the hike. That is completely false, anyone who wishes can make the ascent, of course, taking the appropriate care. As for the hiking time, it does not exceed 2 hours the one-way stretch to the top of the mountain. During the first hour and a half, you will see some of the terraces of the place. These constructions are a continuous challenge to vertigo.

At the end of the passage through the platforms and stairways, we continue to the top of Huayna Picchu. It goes through a series of Inca constructions and the indications of a probable imperial construction of an Inca temple. Also, you can find several colcas and other constructions. After going through all these places it is possible to reach the top of the mountain where you have one of the most beautiful views of Machu Picchu. In this place you can find the remains of some stones that surely would serve for future and now truncated constructions. Reaching the top of Huayna Picchu, allows you to know and understand more about one of the most important cultures that have populated the planet Earth.


Details of this route to Huayna Picchu

View of Machu Picchu
View of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu from Inti Punku when arriving on the Inca Trail
 
  • It is important to keep in mind that the hike to this place requires a different entrance than the Inca Trail routes.
  • The entrances to the Inca Trail are different from those of Huayna Picchu. Separate reservations must be made.
  • Book in advance. The entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu, became the most requested.
  • The appropriate time for the entrance, after the classic Inca Trail or Inca Trail 4 days is in the second schedule. That is, from 10 in the morning.
  • When entering at that time, you will likely finish the tour of Huayna Picchu and the rest of Machu Picchu in 14 hours.
  • It is unlikely that you will get lost, the trail is well signposted and you will find many people along the way.
  • It is not advisable to do the hike all at once. Take adequate time to avoid fatigue.
  • Use the handrails for safety on your way up and during the ascent.
  • It is advisable to travel in the dry season. During the wet or rainy season, you will encounter fog.
  • During the rainy season, you can have a different experience.
  • Always carry a waterproof poncho, whichever season you make the trip.
  • In the case of the Camino Corto, reservations must be made for the same schedule. Remember that you can do the Circuit 2 tour and then show your entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu.
  • Keep in mind that the total tour will take at least 6 hours.
  • Due to the length of the trail, it is recommended to have water and some snacks on hand. Fruit is also an excellent option.
  • Continue the tour of Huayna Picchu with appropriate footwear, preferably dedicated to hiking.
  • Try to have a destination ready or scheduled for lunch. Your stomach will thank you.
  • Normally the return to Cusco starts in the afternoon, the most recommended trains for the return are those with the 16:22 hours schedule.
  • During the afternoon, you will have time to see more of Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Town.
  • Take advantage of this time to buy some souvenirs or have lunch.
  • During the train ride, it is possible to see, in the distance, part of the section that was traveled on foot.


How to make a reservation for both places?

Reservations to enter the Inca Trail and then Huayna Picchu require that two different reservations be made. In this sense, those who wish to do this adventure have to take into account this aspect. Both tickets are difficult to get because they are the most requested. In this sense, you have to make the reservation well in advance. It is recommended that the reservation be made at least 2 or 3 months in advance. It would be much better if you made the reservation much further in advance.

Keep in mind that, if you do the 4-day Inca Trail tour, you will have to make the entrance reservation to Huayna Picchu for the fourth day of your adventure. That is, if you start the hike on January 2, for example, on January 5 you will be arriving at Machu Picchu in the early hours of the day. The hike during the last day, probably from Wiñayhuayna camp, will start at 4:00 in the morning. At approximately 6:00 a.m., you will reach Machu Picchu through Inti Punku. From there begins the descent and the next tour of Machu Picchu.

Likewise, the entrance reservation to Huayna Picchu must be made at 10:00 in the morning. At that time you can enter without any hurry and make the corresponding ascent to Huayna Picchu. In this sense the reservation of the Huayna Picchu ticket has to be for January 5, if we continue with the example that we put and the time of entry at 10:00 in the morning. It may seem very obvious, but it is not superfluous to emphasize it. Once you have made the reservation with the necessary anticipation of both tickets you can make the hike without any problem by the Inca Trail and after that, ascend to Huayna Picchu. The tour will end around 14:00 hours, have a place for lunch, although in Machu Picchu Town there are many more options.

 

By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 26-02-2024


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