Every day, early in the morning -even before dawn-, thousands of enthusiastic travelers from all over the world queue up outside the bus station in Aguas Calientes to venture up to their Machu Picchu hike. They want to be the first persons to enter the Inca citadel and feel they are the only ones at the Sanctuary who can enjoy the ancestral and ancient beauty of the Inca Empire.
Most of them want to test their fitness and decide to climb the famous Huayna Picchu, the green peak that appears in the background of all the Machu Picchu photos. But since only 400 climbers are allowed, many are left out.
Fortunately, there is a higher and equally beautiful and breathtaking hike: Machu Picchu Mountain also called Old Mountain. It’s located on the opposite end of the site. So, if you are brave enough as the team of Cusco Peru Travel, you will climb it and be dazzled by the majesty of the Inca landmark.
What is Machu Picchu Mountain?
Any Machu Picchu trip is not complete without hiking one of the neighboring incredible peaks and getting another perspective over the legacy of the Inca Empire. This is the case for Machu Picchu Mountain, which is the most spectacular alternative to the famous Huayna Picchu.
It is located in the southwest corner of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Despite it doesn’t have a set of Inca peaks to explore at its summit, it has interesting cultural richness. The Inca priests performed rituals and liturgical greetings to Apu Salkantay (In Incan mythology, Apu means the mountain spirit).
In spite of the higher demand for Huayna Picchu, many travelers say that the panoramic views of Machu Picchu, from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, are much better than the views from Huayna Picchu. In other words, they are completely unbeatable.
Do you have any doubts about trying this Machu Picchu hike? You don’t have to. Trust us. This hike will give you the incredible opportunity to gain a true appreciation not only for nature but also for the legacy of the Inca Empire. It will be a one-of-a-kind experience that you will no doubt enjoy.
*The entrance to the Machu Picchu Mountain closes from April 16 to April 30 for conservation and restoration work.
Getting to the Machu Picchu Mountain trailhead
Once you arrive at Machu Picchu’s entrance, you must follow the way to the guardhouse. There will be small wooden signs pointing you in the right direction, which means, the start point of the Machu Picchu hike. This is also the path that leads you to the Sun Gate (Intipunku).
A few minutes after the guardhouse, you will follow a path up agricultural terraces. You must follow this path for about 15 minutes, then you will arrive at the warden’s hut which is where you will sign up. Here, you have to submit your admission ticket and check-in with your passport. It will take you about 30 minutes from the Machu Picchu entrance to the Machu Picchu Mountain trailhead.
Moreover, the Machu Picchu Mountain is accessible throughout the year. But Cusco Peru Travel considers that the best time to visit Machu Picchu and do this stunning Machu Picchu hike is during the dry season (from April to October). During the wet season, there is a greater chance of strong rain. The trails may be more slippery so increases the difficulty of the climb. As a matter of fact, you should be also prepared for rain during the dry season. The climate throughout the southern region of Peru is usually unpredictable.
We also recommend making early hiking. Machu Picchu is best seen early in the morning when the sunlight has yet to burn through the cloud mist clinging to the hillsides.
Climbing the Machu Picchu Mountain
After checking in at the warden’s hut, you will follow a relatively uniform ascent that approximates 30 degrees in elevation for about an hour. Unlike the Huayna Picchu, the trail to Machu Picchu Mountain is a much wider path and well-marked. However, as you get closer to its summit, the stairs will become narrower, steeper and kind of difficult. But don’t be scared, every sacrifice has its reward, right? As you go along the path, little by little you will witness mind-blowing and epic views of one of the most impressive architectural jewels of the world, Machu Picchu, and also of the surrounding Andean mountains. In fact, the views will become more impressive each time. The path continues for another 30 minutes, you will pass through a stone gate and then follow a ridge to the summit. Here you will find a small round hut that will give you shelter.
The Machu Picchu hike back down is through the same route and takes 20 to 30 minutes less.
*Anytime between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. (First entry: 7-8 a.m. Second entry: 9-10 a.m.), you can start the Machu Picchu Mountain hike. The trail closes at 3:00 p.m. and everyone needs to be off it by this time.
On the other hand, you may be asking yourself “How high is Machu Picchu?” For reference, the Machu Picchu Sanctuary is at about 2,430 m. above sea level. Machu Picchu Mountain’s height in relation to Machu Picchu is 652 m. The altitude of the top is 3,082 m. above sea level. At this height, you must take into consideration the altitude sickness effects. Take the proper precautions.
How difficult is the Machu Picchu Mountain Trail?
This trail is from a moderate to a challenging one to hike. Although it doesn’t require exceptional physical, you will need to be in good shape.
As we mentioned before, the trail is well marked and wider. But there are very steep sections so, if you are fearful of heights, consider not doing this hike.
Furthermore, the total time takes approximately 3 hours and climbs more than 1600 steps to the top of the Machu Picchu Mountain.
What to bring to your Machu Picchu hike?
Our tips on what to bring to hike Machu Picchu Mountain:
- Electronic ticket Machu Picchu printed
- Hiking boots or comfortable shoes
- Small backpack. Carry as little as possible
- Hiking sticks or hiking poles
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, sunhat, and sunglasses
- Light snacks
As you have realized, this incredible Machu Picchu hike offers you stunning bird-eyes views of the majestic Machu Picchu ruins and the surrounding peaks. We are sure that you have already started looking for tickets to come to Peru.
Besides, you don’t have to worry about the details, you must only flow and fully enjoy the natural wealth of this Andean region. For your peace of mind, there are many ways to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It will be a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Peru has many wonders waiting for you to be discovered. Here in Cusco Peru Travel, our speciality is to make your trip an outstanding experience, fill-in this form and let your tailor-made luxury Peru vacation begin.