Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain? Which is better?
What is the difference between the Huayna Picchu hike and the Machu Picchu Mountain hike?
How can I buy Huayna Picchu tickets or Machu Picchu Mountain tickets?
If you are planning a Machu Picchu tour, you may have heard about these additional hikes.
We explain all you need to know about them.
What is Machu Picchu citadel?
Machu Picchu citadel is what most people call Machu Picchu. It is the former Inca city. So when someone talks about visiting Machu Picchu, they refer to visiting the ruins of this Inca citadel. This citadel is perched on top of a hill, high above the Urubamba River.
The local authorities refer to the citadel as Machu Picchu Llaqta. Llaqta being the Quechua word for town or village. Quechua is the native language of the area, which was once the language of the Incas. It is still spoken by many locals today.
How high is Machu Picchu citadel?
Machu Picchu citadel lies at an altitude of 2430 meters or 7972 feet. It is located above the Urubamba River and the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, formerly known as Aguas Calientes. The town lies at 2040 meters or 6700 feet.
*Note there is also a luxury hotel in the town called “Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo” which some people refer to as “Machu Picchu Pueblo” for short.
So Machu Picchu citadel or ruins are perched on top of a hill that rises 390 meters or 1272 feet above the river. This hill has two peaks rising out of it, one called Huayna Picchu and one known as Machu Picchu Mountain. The ruins of Machulie between the two peaks.
What is Huayna Picchu ?
Huayna Picchu is one of the two peaks rising that rise above Machu Picchu Inca citadel. It has some Inca ceremonial buildings on the top. If you climb it you get a great view down over the ruins of Machu Picchu citadel. This gives you a different perspective to standing in Machu Picchu ruins themselves. It gives an overview of the citadel. Many choose to climb Huayna Picchu because of the extra challenge it offers.
Huayna Picchu is thought by historians to have been a place used by Inca priests for ceremonial reasons. As they worshipped the sun, being slightly higher than the citadel it would have brought them closer to their deity. Also on the side of the peak are some other Inca ceremonial buildings- the Temple of the Moon and the Great Cave. Some historians debate whether the Temple of the Moon was actually used to worship the moon at all.
What does Huayna Picchu mean?
The name Huayna Picchu means “young mountain”. By contrast, Machu Picchu means “old mountain”. These are not original names. They were names given by Quechua-speaking locals, long after the Incas had disappeared.
How high is Huayna Picchu?
Huayna Picchu is 2720 meters or 8924 feet high. But you only have to climb 290 meters or 951 feet above Machu Picchu citadel.
What is Machu Picchu Mountain?
Machu Picchu Mountain is the other peak rising above Machu Picchu Inca citadel. It does not have as much Inca stonework on it as Huayna Picchu. It is a tougher trek, taking almost twice as long as the Huayna Picchu hike. While not quite as steep, it is still very exposed in places. However, the attraction is you climb even higher than Huayna Picchu and you will see fewer people.
How high is Machu Picchu Mountain?
3051m (10010 feet)
How do I book a Huayna Picchu ticket or Machu Picchu Mountain ticket?
To hike Huayna Picchu or hike Machu Picchu Mountain, you must buy a ticket at the same time you book your Machu Picchu ticket or Inca Trail ticket. There are not stand-alone tickets. You can either buy a Machu Picchu only ticket. Or a Machu Picchu plus Huayna Picchu ticket. Or a Machu Picchu plus Machu Picchu Mountain ticket. So unless you want to buy 2 Machu Picchu tickets, you will need to buy one that includes either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain at the time of booking.
How much does a ticket to Huayna Picchu cost? How much does a Machu Picchu Mountain cost?
To buy a Machu Picchu citadel ticket which also includes either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain costs 50 soles extra or 15 U$ dollars extra than a ticket that only includes Machu Picchu citadel. Remember you must buy a combined ticket at the time of booking. The two peaks cannot be bought as a stand-alone add-on.
Do I need a guide for Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?
You do not need a guide to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. However, you can only visit Machu Picchu citadel with a licensed guide. Unless you are visiting for the second consecutive day, in which case your second entrance does not require a guide.
How long does my combined ticket last for Machu Picchu citadel plus Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?
These combined tickets last 6 hours from start time. A standard ticket for Machu Picchu citadel only lasts 4 hours.
Can you include Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain ticket as part of your Inca Trail permit?
No. You cannot combine either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain as part of your Inca Trail permit. You need to buy a completely separate ticket, either Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu with Machu Picchu Mountain.
Remember, your Inca Trail permit already includes your entrance to Machu Picchu. So if you want to do either of these additional hikes, you are effectively paying twice to visit Machu Picchu.
Can you hike both Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain
Technically yes, you can hike both Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. But only if you buy 2 separate tickets on 2 separate days. We do not recommend it. The 2 hikes are too similar to make it worth your while.
Is Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu worth it?
It depends. Our guides report that 90% of their clients who came from the Inca Trail did not want to climb a mountain. They are usually tired and prefer to rest.
- If you are scared of heights, do not even consider climbing either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
- If it is raining or looks stormy, do not climb either mountain. People have been killed by lightning on them.
- If you are doing a group tour it does not work unless all the group does it. Otherwise, the guide has to decide which part of the group to be with. It simply does not work.
However, if you are someone who is not scared of heights, is only visiting Machu Picchu for the day, want to spice up your trip, like a challenge, and the weather is good- then either of these peaks may be a good option for you.
Remember tickets for Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are limited. So if you buy them just in case you feel like it, you are preventing someone else from having the opportunity to climb it.
Check out our table to compare the two options:
|Huayna Picchu||Machu Picchu Mountain|
|Availability||Sells out most days. 400 permits available per day||Generally always availability|
|Total time up and back||1.5 to 2 hours||2.5 to 3 hours|
|Difficulty||Steep, and in places you do have to use your hands for balance. There are handrail wires in places to hold onto on a few sections. However it is not rock climbing, the hands are for balance and only needed in a few places.||Less use of hands, but a much longer climb (hike). Not as steep on the whole.|
|Exposure||Very exposed in places with big drops. The top can get crowded which can be a bit unnerving if you do not like heights, as people jostle about.||Very exposed in places. Some narrow stone staircases sticking out of the rock, with nothing on the outer side|
|Height (Machu Picchu is 2430m)||2720m (8924 feet)||3051m (10010 feet)|
|Entry time||6 am -100 permits|
7 am – 100 permits
8 am- 200 permits
|6 am -100 permits|
7 am – 100 permits
8 am- 200 permits
|View||You look down over Machu Picchu ruins and the Urubamba river||Fantastic, you look down over Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu and the Urubamba river|
|Advantage||Quicker. More Inca stonework on it.||Quieter. Sells out slower.|