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Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?

What is Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain?

Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain are two mountains on opposite sides of the Machu Picchu archeological site which are possible to hike to enjoy panoramic views from the top. Huayna Picchu is the tall peak you see in most photos of Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain is located at the opposite end of the site. Permits are required for each option and have to be booked in advance as spaces are limited. Our short guide below compares each option so you can decide which one is best for you.

huayna picchu diagram

Huayna Picchu vs Machu Picchu Mountain

Popularity:  Huayna Picchu is much more popular and permits sell out well in advance. Although you also need a permit for Machu Picchu Mountain, the availability of these is much better. It can get crowded at the top of Huayna Picchu whereas Machu Picchu Mountain is less busy.

Difficulty:  Huayna Picchu is steeper and there are some parts where you need to use your hands for balance. Machu Picchu mountain is not as steep but the elevation gain is double that of Huayna Picchu. It is also a longer hike making it a bit more physically challenging overall.

Hiking time:  Huayna Picchu takes about 1.5 – 2 hours in total including the way up and the way down. Machu Picchu Mountain takes about 2.5 – 3 hours in total.

Scare factor:  Both can be pretty hair raising with very exposed areas and sheer drops. Not suitable for those scared of heights!

Total height:  Huayna Picchu is 2720 metres and Machu Picchu Mountain is 3051 metres.

Elevation gained:  Hiking Huayna Picchu you will go up 290 metres and Machu Picchu Mountain is a total climb of 621 metres.

Time:  Huayna Picchu has two slots, 7am or 10am whilst Machu Picchu Mountain is 7am or 9am.

Permits:  There are only 400 spaces allowed each day and for Huayna Picchu these sell out very far in advance. There is also 400 spaces for Machu Picchu Mountain, but these don’t tend to sell out as quickly.

View:  Both views are impressive and look down on the ruins. From Machu Picchu Mountain you also look down on Huayna Picchu as it is the higher peak.

Summit:  Huayna Picchu does not have a flat summit and it can be quite difficult to move around, especially when busy. This can also be disconcerting for those scared of heights. Machu Picchu Mountain’s summit is flat with 360 degree views.

Our Top Tips

Huayna Picchu:  Keep your hands free as you will need them to balance. At the top there is a short stone ladder that will also require you to use your hands. The summit is not flat and it can be quite tricky to move around.

Machu Picchu Mountain:  If possible don’t carry a backpack so you have the lightest load possible. Trekking poles are recommended for extra stability.

Our Opinion

Both options are fairly challenging hikes and should only be taken on by people with moderate fitness and who are not scared of heights. Although both are great options and it ultimately comes down to a matter of opinion, we would say that Huayna Picchu is the more dramatic hike with the infamous stairs, interesting tunnels and Inca ruins along the route. Machu Picchu Mountain, however, arguably provides the better views from the top because it is higher and you can look down on Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu Mountain will normally also have far less people, so if you want to avoid the crowds, this would be the best option for you.

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