The Legendary Machu Picchu Mountain, considered a difficult hike, is one of the most popular and well-known hikes in the world. The mountain towers more than 652m or 2,139ft above the Incan city of Machu Picchu, and has a total elevation of 3,082 m. Please note that the hike is generally done solo without a guide, but you can hire a private guide for an addition price. The mountain itself has the highest views of Machu Picchu and is where many famous photos are taken.
Duration and Distance
Like any hike, the amount of time it takes to summit the mountain depends on the individual. The high altitude, in combination with the steep steps, makes for a difficult hike. All hikers know, the number of breaks and photos you take along the way will prolong the journey. However, it takes on average 1 hour and 45 minutes to summit the mountain. The trail, comprised of stones steps, is relatively short in terms of distance, 1.2 miles one way. It’s recommended to acclimatize to the altitude for a few days before attempting any hikes. The time it takes to acclimatize and the effects of elevation are entirely based on the individual and have nothing to do with physical fitness.
Entry and Tickets
There are three different schedules for entry.
- 7:00-8:00 am
- 8:00-9:00 am
- 9:00-10:00 am
*Please note the times for entry are very strict, if you arrive late you will not be able to enter!
Guided tours of Machu Picchu take place in the morning when the area is less crowded. If you would like to take a group tour and hike Machu Picchu mountain in the same day you will need to purchase a Machu Picchu Mountain ticket for the 9:00-10:00 am time frame, otherwise you will need to hike Machu Pichu Mountain on a different day.
Location and Circuits
The walking starts when you arrive to Machu Picchu. The mountain trail head itself is located southwest of the Machu Picchu citadel near the iconic Guard House (where the classic Machu Picchu photos are taken). After passing the Guard House, continue on the main trail that leads to the sun gate until you come to a sign that reads “Machu Picchu Mountain”. The trail continues to the right where you will see the start of the stone steps. It takes approximately 30 mins to walk from the entrance of Machu Picchu to the mountain trail head. There are several different circuits that explore the complex of Machu Picchu, circuit #3 being the only one that offers the Machu Picchu Mountain hike.
The price for Machu Picchu Mountain is an additional $75 USD.
Which is the best time of the day to hike?
The weather can be foggy and rainy in the morning with the sun coming out in the late morning around 9:00-10:00 am. Take this into consideration when choosing your time.
*If you want to hike Machu Picchu Mountain and tour the citadel of Machu Picchu in the same day, you will need to purchase a ticket for the 9:00-10:00 am time slot.
Tours to Machu Picchu Mountain
Generally speaking, guided tours to the mountain are not included. However, you can ask your guide to accompany you up the mountain at an extra cost. Otherwise, your guided tour only includes the Machu Picchu Citadel.
Weather of Machu Picchu and when to visit
Machu Picchu is a subtropical mountain climate in the Andean Cloud Forest with two distinct seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The average daily temperature in Machu Picchu is 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20ºC). The rainy season ranging from November to April and the dry season from May to October.
In the beginning of the rainy season, November and December, the vegetation is not as lush and green as other months. However, there is rainfall this time of year, in the following months the rain and fog really start to pick up, making January to March the time with the least number of visitors. In February, the Inca trail is closed, in addition to many other hikes. Due to the immense rainfall, the trail is slick and too dangerous. During the wet season, tours and accommodation are often times more affordable making it the more economical time to visit.
The dry season, from May to October, has the best weather and subsequently the most visitors. Although the weather is better from May to October you should always be prepared with rain gear, in the cloud forest, rain and fog can come at any moment. However, the sun is generally stronger during these months, so sunscreen is a must. You’ll also be at high altitude where the atmosphere is thinner, and therefore the sun is much stronger than regions near sea level. Additionally, the lines for buses, trains, and Machu Picchu are long this time of year, so be prepared to wait.
For these reasons you have to weigh your options. Would you rather see Machu Picchu with fewer people and possibly miss your perfect view due to fog, or go in the dry season when the site is packed with people but, have a near guarantee of nice weather and perfect photos? There are pros and cons to each season, take your time, do the necessary research, and decide when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu for you.
Is Machu Picchu Mountain Dangerous?
Depending on the time of year, the trail can be slick. Please be aware the trail is steep; we highly recommend that you bring footwear with good treads and trekking poles if necessary.
Tips and Packing list
- Stay on the trail at all times for your own safety and to preserve the landscape
- Take rests when needed, remember you’re in high elevation!
- Mentally prepare yourself for difficult steep sections
- Keep an eye out for the unique fauna of the region
- Good footwear and trekking poles if needed
- Sunscreen and rain gear (Yes both!)
- Snacks and water bottle
- Insect repellant. (Mostly for the rainy season)
Machu Picchu Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world, and for good reason. The views from the top are breathtaking, and the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing the hike is unbeatable.
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