Traveling to Machu Picchu is often synonymous with trekking. However, the options for trekking are far wider and varied than just the Inca Trail to the ancient Inca citadel. For those don’t have the time or desire to trek for days (or those who are but want even more), there are plenty of trails on the site itself that visitors can experience in just a couple of hours. Here we take a look at the different treks available within Machu Picchu, and the difference between two of the most popular options, hiking Huayna Picchu vs Machu Picchu Mountain.
Before we take a look at their differences, let’s take a look at their similarities. Both require special tickets bought in advance with your main entrance ticket, have a limited number of spaces – 400 per day – and involve entering Machu Picchu early in the morning.
Huayna Picchu Mountain ticket time slots:
Machu Picchu Mountian ticket time slots:
Now let’s take a look at the differences.
The famous peak in the back of every iconic Machu Picchu photo, summiting Huayna Picchu is always a top item on most Machu Picchu visitor’s lists. Along this trek you’ll see breathtaking views down onto the main Machu Picchu ruins, several additional ruins (including a temple only accessible by this trek), and get a special perspective onto the site that few see.
The Huayna Picchu trek is steep and has several slippery sections, and while short (it usually requires about an hour each way), it’s definitely challenging. Due to the steep slopes and dropping views, it’s not recommended for anyone with vertigo or a fear of heights.
Due to Huayna Picchu’s popularity, tickets can sell out anywhere from one to three months in advance, so be sure to book your ticket early.
This trek is a great alternative to Huayna Picchu, ideal for those who don’t want the hassle of fighting for a ticket, or who were unable to get one. Although spaces for Machu Picchu Mountain are limited it never sells out (not yet at least!) so it is theoretically possible to book this hike up until the day before.
This trek is great because it will also take you high up like Huayna Picchu, offering great views down on the main ruins. This trek has an easier incline (also making it accessible for those who fear the heights of Huayna Picchu), but the path is much longer making it equally as challenging in its own way.
The trek to Machu Picchu Mountain takes anywhere from three to five hours round trip, depending on how speedily you do the entirely uphill hike.
When you arrive at Machu Picchu, you’ll be given a map with information on all of the main site treks and a few other walks or points of interest. As none of these need to be reserved in advance (and sometimes vary seasonally), it’s best to arrive in the morning and allow a little wiggle room in your day should you choose to explore any.
For those who haven’t done the Inca Trail, this is a great glimpse of the experience. The Sun Gate is the very end of the Inca Trail, through which the Incas would enter Machu Picchu. Hike up to it and see the same view they did when arriving at the site.
This trek is one of the best on Machu Picchu’s main site because it’s entirely no fuss. It is included with your main entrance ticket, there is no limit to how many people can do it, and you don’t need to reserve anything in advance.
The Sun Gate is a great alternative to Machu Picchu Mountain because it is still an adventure but accessible to a wider range of fitness levels. The uphill walk takes about three to four hours to complete round trip, and you’ll see all type of travelers making the journey; families, honeymooners, etc.
Last but not least, the Inca Bridge. Unlike the other treks on top of Machu Picchu, this short walk with ancient ruins is a breeze. Great for families or those who want something to do without too much of a physical challenge, this short journey gives you views of the valley behind Machu Picchu Mountain and a glimpse of what remains of an ancient Inca Bridge used to access Machu Picchu.
Know you know a little bit more about the difference between Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain hikes, which do you prefer? Whichever trek at Machu Picchu you choose, keep in mind that (like the main site), they do not have any facilities on them. Make sure to bring snacks, water in a reusable bottle, and visit the restrooms outside the main entrance before your trek. Both Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain options give rare spectacular views and access to additional ruins that the average traveler are not likely to experience and are highly recommended if you have the time.
While Rainforest Cruises aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information herein or found by following any link on this site. Rainforest Cruises cannot and will not accept responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom, including any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the display or use of this information.