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What You Need to Know Before Climbing Huayna Picchu in Peru

What You Need to Know Before Climbing Huayna Picchu in Peru

So you want to climb Huayna Picchu? Well get ready, because it’s not for the faint of heart!

Also referred to as Wayna Picchu, this formidable mountain overlooks the ruins of Machu Picchu, a world wonder, and offers a unique vantage point as you hike 8,900 feet into the clouds.

The price of admission? Aside from an extra $20 or so, you pay for the view with a 1.5-2 hour trek through wilderness, in high elevation with no rest stops or assistance along the way. You sign your name into the guest book when you go in, and if you don’t sign out at the end of the day the staff assumes you’ve become yet another casualty on the mountain.


Structure at Huayna Picchu surrounded by clouds

In fact, the Incans used to toss troublesome villagers from Huayna Picchu, believing the vultures would eat their remains so they could never be reborn. There’s a reason this site took so long to be discovered–it casts an eerie and powerful aura that can initially deter those who seek to explore it.

Despite all the warning signs not to go on this journey, I found myself at 8am signing my name into that guest book and wishing for the best.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and, having completed the trip without incident, I’d like to share some of the things I learned about making this hike a success.

Huayna Picchu hike difficulty

Map of Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu is a tough hike. Make sure you eat a good breakfast (especially since you’ll probably be up at 5am latest to catch the bus to the site), pack some nutrition bars and bring plenty of water.

Coca leaves are sold everywhere but are ineffective in crude form–if you’re afraid of altitude sickness make sure you have coca tea before leaving. I would advise against attempting this hike prior to proper acclimation.

Appropriate footwear is a must. While the path is well marked, the terrain can be slippery and challenging. I wore sneakers and did alright, but I should have probably worn hiking boots and wouldn’t recommend anything other than those two options.

If you’re backpacking through Peru, you’ll have everything you need and be accustomed to more challenging terrain. First time hikers are able to do this trail too, however, just take your time and pace yourself. 

What to bring on your Huayna Picchu hike

Stairs in Huayna Picchu

The temperatures are going to change, both as the day goes on and as you exert yourself. Bring layers so you can dress and undress as needed. If you’re going during colder months, wait to purchase your winter gear while there. There is no warmer fabric than alpaca!

Also in general when traveling in Peru it’s good to have toilet paper and soap with you because you never know how equipped the bathrooms are going to be. Note, there are no bathrooms on this trail or inside the entire Machu Picchu complex. You have to exit to pee, and you get a maximum of 3 entries total with your ticket.

For those of you wondering how to carry all this, I bought a foldable backpack from HikPro that I purchased just for this trip. It’s the #1 rated lightweight backpack on Amazon and I have to say it got the job done. It folded up really small before and after so it’s not a burden on my carry-on, held all my necessities and had cushioning on the straps so it was comfortable to walk with. I didn’t receive it for free or anything, just really liked the backpack.

Pace yourself. This is not a race, it’s a marathon. While more experienced hikers may breeze through this, I strongly recommend taking your tip, going at your own pace and sitting down for breaks and water as needed. The only important thing is that you get there in one piece, not get there in record time.

You’ll also find you make friends along the way as you stop to rest with fellow hikers. They might even be kind enough to snap some photos for you if you’re traveling alone.


Best time of day to hike Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu

There are 200 people allowed to climb Huayna Picchu twice a day–at 8am and 10am. I strongly recommend going with the first group if possible, though the top concern is getting tickets period, they sell out quick! If you don’t manage to land a ticket, you also have the option of climbing Machu Picchu Mountain.

The advantage to being in the first group, in my opinion, is the cloud cover while walking, which provides not only really cool photos and a sense of true ascension, but also a relief from the heat. You will be sweating enough just from hiking, trust me. Once the clouds clear and you start walking back, you’ll see others starting their 10am journey as you’re fleeting the mountain and searching for the nearest restroom and source of water. You will be glad you went when you did.

The only potential downside of going early is that you have to wait for the clouds to clear to actually be able to see the Machu Picchu ruins, and you may feel rushed to head back since you know more people are arriving. But that brings me to my next point…

Views from Huayna Picchu

Views from Huayna Picchu

You just finished one of the most treacherous hikes in the world! By all means, wait for that perfect picture. There’s a lot of people around, and a whole lot of selfie sticks, but wait it out. You earned this. Take a break, take in the scenery, and don’t leave until you feel absolutely satisfied that you have experienced the peak of this mountain.

You can also take amazing photos on the way back down, the ruins are visible from many different viewpoints so don’t be disappointed if your first picture doesn’t come out exactly how you wanted it. The important thing is to truly experience this moment that so few people will ever get to live.

There’s a magical feeling with reaching the summit of any mountain, but with Machu Picchu that feeling is tenfold.

Women looking at Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

Click here to get my HikPro bag on Amazon!

I hope I’ve inspired some of you future Huayna Picchu trekkers. It may be a challenge, but it’s the experience of a lifetime. Till next time, safe travels!


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Hiking Wayna Picchu to get a view overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru is one of the top 10 most dangerous hikes in the world. Don't leave this World Wonder without climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu!  Huayna Picchu is a mountain right next to Macchu Picchu, Peru. You can climb it twice a day for great views of the ancient ruins! Read and save my post for everything you need to know to make the hike.  Hiking Wayna Picchu to get a view overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru is one of the top 10 most dangerous hikes in the world. Don't leave this World Wonder without climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu!


Monday 30th of December 2019

Size of Hikpro backpack, How many liters? Thanks

Jen on a Jet Plane

Monday 30th of December 2019

20L and it did the trick for the morning.

Melvyn Tan

Saturday 21st of December 2019

Picture of Huanyu Picchu can look intimidating until you are actually there hiking up to the summit. I was celebrating my birthday before the hike as I turned 66. As a senior and young at heart, I keep myself fit by power walking daily for 6 km. I believed I can do it despite getting clearance from my doctor as I had angiogram done 6 years ago. I am on a daily heart medications regime. Before hiking up, I told myself that I must take it easy and do it at my own pace. I took 4-5 breaks in between and managed to reached the summit in about an hour. Once I was at the top, the feeling of accomplishment and achievement were just incredible. Looking back, I felt very good knowing that I am OK and normal. But it terrified me looking back that that HP is covered with trees and shrubs with path clearly marked. Some areas were pretty steep and inclined. If I had some abnormal heart issue, there was no one for me to call for help as at some passage way , there were hardly anyone except yourself. Glad it is over and I succeeded at reaching the top!


Tuesday 8th of October 2019

did you go with any travel groups ? Can you suggest any ?

John Reus

Sunday 17th of November 2019

My wife and I used Gate1 this past July and were very happy with the experience. Well organized, friendly staff and had wonderful group mates. We were then only two in out group to do Huayna...and did the climb on the morning if day two. We are both near 50 and not the most physically fit..but it's a matter of just taking your time. Once in a lifetime!

Jen on a Jet Plane

Thursday 10th of October 2019

My trip was planned and tickets secured by Machu Picchu Viajes Peru but the hike I did alone :) I would recommend them, reasonably priced and great service.


Monday 16th of September 2019

Great post, I love it.


Monday 19th of August 2019

I'm headed to Peru in October and wanted to hike Huayna Picchu... Physically I know I can but I'm not a super huge fan of heights and it looked like one wrong step and down to your death?!? Any thoughts on doing this hike?

Jen on a Jet Plane

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

There are certainly areas where you can put yourself in peril but generally the beaten path is safe. The last portion requires some almost vertical climbing but you have plenty of room to put your feet down and can go at your own pace, following the person in front of you. You can do it! A little kid it and he kept me going haha :)