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Should You Hike Machu Picchu Mountain? Know Before You Go!

Should You Hike Machu Picchu Mountain? Know Before You Go!

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Here’s everything you NEED to know about Machu Picchu Mountain. This blog should answer all of your questions about this Machu Picchu add-on as well as help you decide if you should do it, or not!

When we booked our Salkantay Trek tour to Machu Picchu, the tour agency convinced us to purchase tickets to Machu Picchu Mountain too. We had no idea what Machu Picchu Mountain was, but we thought for the small extra fee we might as well!

What we discovered was an incredible (but challenging) hike to a viewpoint overlooking Machu Picchu! Not to mention, the path on the hike to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain was made of original Inca stonework – amazing!

With limited visitors, this hike is one way to escape the crowds of Machu Picchu and enjoy a unique view.

Here’s some important information about Machu Picchu Mountain so you can tackle this hike for yourself!

Machu Picchu Mountain Overview

A photo of Machu Pichu, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain from Across the valley.
From this photo, you can see Machu Picchu ruins (middle), Huayna Picchu (small peak in front of Machu Pichhu), and Machu Picchu Mountain (tall peak behind Machu Picchu).
What is Machu Picchu Mountain?

Machu Picchu Moutain is a peak (or mountain) that sits right next to the Inca city of Machu Picchu. There is an original Inca trail that leads to the top and visitors can climb the mountain for a view from above of Machu Picchu!

What is the difference between Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain?

“Machu Picchu” refers to the actual Inca city. “Machu Picchu Mountain” is the name of a mountain higher than the city. People climb Machu Picchu Mountain for a view of Machu Picchu.

What is the difference between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu?

They are two different mountains on opposite sides of the Inca city of Machu Picchu. Huayna Picchu is more famous, but also more dangerous to hike. From the top of Machu Picchu Mountain you have a view of Huayna Picchu, and vice versa.

Do you need a ticket to visit Machu Picchu Mountain?

Yes. You need a ticket that you must purchase in advance to climb Machu Picchu Mountain.

Is the hike to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain difficult?

Yes. It is all uphill and a challenging hike. However, the path is wider than Huayna Picchu making it less dangerous.

Why hike Machu Picchu Mountain?

The views from Machu Picchu Mountain of Machu Picchu
The views from Machu Picchu Mountain of Machu Picchu

If you take the bus up to Machu Picchu (like almost everybody does), then your actual day visiting Machu Picchu doesn’t involve hiking at all. That is, unless you also visit Machu Picchu Mountain.

This hike is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy nature!

From the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, you also get some of the most incredible views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu (the famous peak in the background.) From up above, you can really see it all!

Machu Picchu Mountain also limits the number of people who can visit daily and has different time slots for entering. This ensures the trail is never too busy and always much less busy than Machi Picchu itself.

When I visited, it was a peaceful escape for a couple of hours.

If you like hiking, photography, or just want the best view then hiking Machu Picchu Mountain is something you should consider.

Machu Picchu Mountain vs. Huayna Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru with Huayna Picchu in the backgound
Here you can see Huayna Picchu behind Machu Picchu

There are two add-on hikes you can do at Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu Mountain, and Huayna Picchu. Here’s a quick table comparing the two hikes:

Machu Picchu MountainHuayna Picchu
Length of Hike:3-4 hours return1.5-2 hours return
Difficulty:Difficult. Longer trail but less steep. Difficult. Shorter trail with a steeper incline.
Elevation at the summit:3,080 m or 10,100 ft2,700 m or 8,850 ft
Cost: (on top of Machu Picchu entrance fee)$15 USD$15 USD
Buying Tickets:Can be bought a few days prior (a couple of weeks in peak season is recommended.)Usually books up months in advance. Should be purchased six months prior.
Children allowed:Yes. All ages are allowed. Under the age of 12 is not allowed

Of the two, Huayna Picchu is the most famous. It is the large pointed peak that is photographed thousands of times daily as the backdrop of the Machu Picchu Inca city.

For this reason, tickets to climb Huayna Picchu are almost always sold out months in advance. You should purchase tickets well in advance as only 400 people are permitted to climb per day.

Note: If you’ve booked a guided tour to Machu Picchu, they may already include your ticket to Huayna Picchu. This is something to ask about as if it isn’t included, your tour operator may be able to purchase the ticket for you!

Machu Picchu Mountain also allows 400 people to visit per day, however, because it is less famous the tickets do not sell out as fast (or sometimes at all.) If you are late to the game for getting a ticket to Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain may be your only option.

Machu Picchi Mountain is also less busy. Although the same number of people are allowed to enter each day as Huayna Picchu, tickets often do not sell out. Additionally, the trail is longer so the people are more spread out making it less crowded.

Machu Picchu Mountain is also a longer trail that takes most people 3-4 hours to complete. Many visitors do not actually summit Machu Picchu Mountain and turn back after a gorgeous viewpoint about 30 minutes in. Therefore, the last half of the trail is much quieter.

Huayna Picchu is a shorter trail that takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to climb to the top and then another 30-45 minutes to the bottom. Although shorter, it is very steep requiring the use of ropes and handrails at times.

The steepness and dangers of Huayna Picchu prohibit children under the age of 12 from doing this hike. People of all ages are allowed to hike Machu Picchu Mountain as the trails are wider and less steep.

At the top of Huayna Picchu there are ruins to explore. Whereas there are none at the summit of Machu Picchu Mountain.

The view from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain is arguably better than from Huayna Picchu. From the top of Machu Picchi Mountain, you will get views of the amazing peak Huayna Picchu, which is an amazing sight from across the valley!

If you would prefer hiking Huayna Picchu, you can buy your tickets online in advance.

If you want to take an organized day trip from Cusco, this particular tour includes hiking Huayna Picchu!

Things to Know about the Machu Picchu Mountain Hike

Walking up Machu Picchu Mountian
Walking up Machu Picchu Mountian

Here are some important tips and points to consider about the Machu Picchu Mountain hike:

  • It is a challenging hike. Most people who start the trail aren’t able to finish it.
  • There is an amazing viewpoint after about 30 minutes of hiking. So, if you don’t want to continue from here you’ll likely be satisfied and can turn back.
  • There are three different time slots. Your ticket will have a time slot on it. During this one hour period is the ONLY time you can begin the hike. Times are (7-8 am, 8-9 am, and 9-10 am.)
  • You will have to register when you start the hike and sign out when you finish.
  • There is very little shade along the trail. Bring a hat and sunscreen!

Buying Tickets to Machu Picchu Mountain and Logistics

Taking a selfie with Machu Pichhu
Taking a selfie with Machu Pichhu

Tickets to hike Machu Picchu Mountain are bought with the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. This is because the tickets have coordinating time slots. For example, if your entrance time to Machu Picchu is 6 am, your Machu Picchu Mountain time slot will be 7-8 am. If your entrance time to Machu Picchu is 7 am, your hike will have to start between 8-9 am.

Tickets can be bought online, or from an authorized dealer in Cusco. Because tickets sell out in advance, it is best to buy tickets online well before your intended arrival in Cusco.

If you are booking an organized tour to Machu Picchu (including hikes like the Salkantay, Jungle Trek, or Inca Trail) your tickets for Machu Picchu and additional hikes will be organized through them.

In this case, you do not need to worry about buying your ticket and simply ask your tour operator if the hike to Machu Picchu Mountain is included or not. If not, they may be able to add it on for you!

You can browse a range of guide tours to Machu Picchu online! There is this specific tour which is a full day trip from Cusco including hiking Machu Picchu Mountain!

If you don’t want to go on a tour, you can also purchase your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu with Machu Picchu Mountain online!

Preparing for Machu Picchu Mountain

A zoomed in shot of Machu Picchu from Machu Picchu Mountain
A zoomed-in shot of Machu Picchu from Machu Picchu Mountain

Like I said before, hiking Machu Picchu Mountain is not the easiest hike. And as such, you need to prepare for it and bring with you more things than the average visitor to Machu Picchu.

I suggest pacing the following items to prepare for the Machu Picchu Mountain hike:

  • Food. You’ll be hungry after being there for so long and hiking so much!
  • At least 1.5 liters of water per person
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Good walking shoes and comfortable clothing
  • Hiking poles (if you struggle with steps)

Before you go…

I hope this blog has helped you prepare for Machu Picchu Mountain! To me, it really was a great hike with some of the best views of Machu Picchu. A hike that is definitely worth the effort!

If you liked this blog, be sure to check out all of our blogs about travel in Peru. Or, check out some of our most popular articles below:


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