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Huayna Picchu Mountain Hike: When & How to Climb the Mt and Its Stairs of Death

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu August 22, 2023

The Huayna Picchu Mountain hike is a highlight of visiting Machu Picchu Inca city. By hiking Huayna Picchu, you will enjoy unrivalled views over Machu Picchu. Better yet, climbing Huayna Picchu Mountain itself is a thrilling trek. Whilst conquering the relatively modest Huayna Picchu elevation, you will get to explore Inca sites on the mountain itself. In fact, part of the hike includes taking on the Huayna Picchu stairs of death, a series of Inca built steps.

Don’t worry! These are not as scary as they sound!

What is Huayna Picchu?

Huayna Picchu is a mountain located next to the incredible Machu Picchu Inca city. Also known as Wayna Picchu Mountain, this epic pinnacle sits just north of Machu Picchu. Basically, if you’re looking at Machu Picchu from the southern part of the complex, you will see a huge mountain behind it. That’s Huayna Picchu mountain! By the way, you will see a smaller mountain peak below Huayna Picchu Mountain too. That’s Huchuy Picchu Mountain.

Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu

Given its location, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu should go hand in hand during a trip to this world class attraction. Of course, the far majority of people who visit Machu Picchu, don not hike Huayna Picchu. That is because not all visitors are physically capable of doing the Huayna Picchu hike. Whilst those who are fit enough, may not be able to if tickets for the Huayna Picchu trail are sold out. But, if you’re capable and prepared, you can expect marvellous views of Machu Picchu by hiking Huayna Picchu.

Of course, many people hike Huayna Picchu for the incredible views of Machu Picchu. But, on Huayna Picchu Mountain itself, you’ll find awesome Inca sites. Essentially, Huayna Picchu Mountain is an extension of the Machu Picchu Inca site. So, to fully explore Machu Picchu, you will want to do the Huayna Picchu hike.

Huayna Picchu Meaning

The name ‘Huayna Picchu’ is derived from the name Wayna Picchu. Both names come from the Quechua language. ‘Wayna‘ and ‘huayna‘ mean ‘young‘ and ‘picchu‘ means ‘mountain‘, ‘Huayna Picchu’ and ‘Wayna Picchu’ mean ‘young mountain’. So, what’s the difference between the names ‘Huayna Picchu’ or ‘Wayna Picchu’? Well, the names are essentially used interchangeably. At Machu Picchu and on your tickets, you’ll find the name Waynapicchu used. But, you will find Huayna Picchu is the preferred term used by most people these days.

Quick Stats and Trail Map

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 2km
  • Huayna Picchu hike time: 2 hours
  • Huayna Picchu hike elevation gain: 180m
  • Huayna Picchu hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Huayna Picchu Registration Hut

Huayna Picchu Elevation and Difficulty

So, how high is Huayna Picchu? The elevation of Huayna Picchu is 2,693 metres above sea level. In comparison, Machu Picchu is around 2,430 mt. In reality, the Huayna Picchu hike is only a short trail, around 1km one way from the trailhead to the summit. Indeed, at 2km return, the Huayna Picchu hike doesn’t seem hard.

But, it’s the Huayna Picchu elevation gain that makes it challenging. To climb Huayna Picchu Mountain, you will ascend 180 metres in just 1km. Yes, the Huayna Picchu elevation gain is very steep. In fact, some of the climb up is done so via the steep Huayna Picchu stairs of death. Certainly, this part of the trail is challenging. But, luckily, the Huayna Picchu stairs of death are fairly short in the actual number of steps.

Overall, if you’re relatively fit and careful, you shouldn’t have any problems with the Huayna Picchu elevation or stairs of death. Although, be prepared to work up a bit of a sweat as you hike Huayna Picchu!

What are the groups and schedules of Huayna Picchu mountain?

These are the updated schedules for 2024 with the Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket.

First group:

  • The entrance to Machu Picchu: From 6 in the morning.
  • The entrance to Huayna Picchu: Between 7 and 8 in the morning.
  • Tickets available: 50.

Second group:

  • The entrance to Machu Picchu: From 7 in the morning.
  • The entrance to Huayna Picchu: Between 8 and 9 in the morning.
  • Tickets available: 50.

Third group:

  • The entrance to Machu Picchu: From 8 in the morning.
  • The entrance to Huayna Picchu: Between 9 and 10 in the morning.
  • Tickets available: 50.

Fourth group:

  • The entrance to Machu Picchu: From 9 in the morning.
  • The entrance to Huayna Picchu: Between 10 and 11 in the morning.
  • Tickets available: 50.

What is the Temple of the Moon on Huayna Picchu?

  • The Temple of the Moon is the most mysterious construction that can be seen on the Huayna mountain Picchu.
  • It is built inside a cave at the top of the mountain and the quality of stone work that can be found in it is comparable only to places like the Temple of the Sun or the Temple of the 3 Windows in Machu Picchu.

Frequent Asked Question

What is Machu Picchu’s death of stairs?

The “Stairs of death” are a section of stone stairs built by the Incas; you will find them before getting to the summit of Huayna Picchu Mountain. These stairs are almost vertical and difficult to climb. Moreover, they are located on the edge of cliff views. However, despite its name, no tourist has died there.

How many people have died climbing Huayna Picchu?

Most tourists referred to the Huayna Picchu hike as the most rewarding experience and once in a lifetime adventure.

Is Huayna Picchu worth it?

Huayna Picchu is the perfect addition to any Machu Picchu experience! With its steep ascent and beautiful views, you will be rewarded with a great physical challenge and an incredible panorama. By taking on Huayna Picchu, you will get a unique perspective of the ancient city that you will not get on the ground level. Additionally, some might say it’s a rite of passage, a simple way to proclaim “I made it!” at the top.

Is Huayna Picchu dangerous?

Making the journey to the top of Huayna Picchu can be an incredible experience, but is it really as dangerous as some people say? Find out now!

Why is it difficult to get Huayna Picchu tickets?

There are only 200 tickets available per day and there are more than 3000 people entering Machu Picchu so the tickets run out quickly.

How far in advance should I book my Huayna Picchu ticket?

  • If you are thinking to hike Huayna Picchu in May, June, and August(dry season), you should book at least 5 months in advance.
  • If you are thinking to Hike Huayna Picchu in December, January, February, and March(rainy season), we recommend you book 3 months in advance.
  • If you are planning to hike Huayna Picchu in April, September, October, and November (shoulder season), we recommend you buy your tickets 4 months in advance.

Do you need to be an expert hiker to climb Huayna Picchu?

No. Anyone can hike Huayna Picchu Mountain. You don’t need to be an expert mountaineer. A previous physical preparation helps you.

Can I Visit Machu Picchu and hike Huayna Picchu in 1 day?

Yes, it is possible. You need to take the first train at 05:05 am from Ollantaytambo and buy the 10 am Schedule for Huayna Picchu. So Visit Machu Picchu from 08:00 am to 10:00 am then start hiking Huayna Picchu at 10 am. In case you don’t find early train tickets, You can hike to Huayna Picchu and then do the guided tour at Machu Picchu.

Do I need a guide to hike Huayna Picchu?

You don’t need a guide to hike Huayna Pichu Mountain. The trail is only one way and it is very well marked and easy to follow. If you want a tour guide, you can pay extra for your travel company to provide you with one or you can get one in Aguas Calientes town.

What to bring to Huayna Picchu?

  • Original Passport.
  • Huayna Picchu Ticket (you can’t hike without this).
  • Trekking shoes.
  • Energy snack.
  • Long sleeves t-shirt and pants to protect from mosquitoes and sunburn.
  • Lightweight raincoat or Rain poncho especially in the rainy season
  • Backpack.
  • 2 liters of water. There is not any stream to refill your bottle
  • Sunglasses.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sunscreen.
  • A camera.

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