The classic Machu Picchu day hike, Huayna Picchu is best known as the perfectly triangular peak that towers behind Machu Picchu in all the classic photos.

Many of the breathtaking photos you’ve seen that are taken from a vantage point far above the ruins were shot from this peak.

Huayna means young in Quechua, as opposed to “machu” which means old. Huayna Picchu is the smaller of the two peaks that bookend the main archeological site and Machu Picchu Mountain is the larger one.

Before committing to this hike, it’s important to know that it is definitely not for people who have a fear of heights. While this can be an issue anywhere in the Andes, climbing Huayna Picchu involves plenty of narrow paths with exposure to sheer drop-offs. There are handrails in the worst spots, but not everywhere you may want them.

Huayna Picchu

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: Two to four hours

Max elevation: 2,693

Start/end point: The trailhead is at the far end of the Machu Picchu citadel

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View of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

What you’ll see

Although there are some ruins toward the top, the main reason people do this hike is for the great perspective it gives you, looking down on Machu Picchu. If you are more adventurous, you can also go over the top and around the other side. This will allow you to visit the Temple of the Moon and the Great Cavern.

Also an "Inca Trail"

“The” Inca Trail is far more than just one official hiking route to Machu Picchu. The Inca created a huge network of roads and footpaths that extended throughout much of South America. The network is called “Qhapaq Ñan” in Quechua and it spans thousands of miles, not just in Peru but through parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Length of the hike

As with so many hikes in Peru, the hard part isn’t the distance as such, it’s the vertical gain over a very short distance that makes the route so challenging. Be prepared for over 300m (1,000 ft) of ascent, with steep rock stairways all the way up. It takes most people between one and two hours. If you choose to do the hike around to the back as well, you should give yourself a good four hours to complete the circuit and have time to explore the cave.

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A llama at Machu Picchu

How to book

New in 2023, entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu are limited to just 300 per day; 75 people may enter each hour between 7am and 10am. All are expected to exit by 2pm. The entrance tickets must be purchased as an add-on when you book your ticket for Machu Picchu itself; availability will generally sell out a couple of months ahead of time. If you buy Huayna Picchu tickets, you will do circuit four through the citadel.

Huayna Picchu hike FAQs

Your questions, our expert answers

Question

We already have a ticket booked for Machu Picchu but would like to add on a hike to Huayna or Huchuy Picchu. Is there any way to add on tickets for either hike during our visit?

M
Asked by Merry
Answer

It is not possible to buy an individual ticket only for any of the Machu Picchu day hikes (Huayna Picchu, Huchuy Picchu, etc). Tickets for those add-on hikes must be chosen when you are buying your Machu Picchu entrance ticket. If your tour agency bought your Machu Picchu ticket, you need to ask them if they can return it for a refund and buy you another. Machu Picchu tickets are sold by the government and are normally non-refundable and non-transferrable. However, an agency might be able to make that change for you.

If you bought the ticket yourself, you should buy another one that includes the day hike. Then, when you're in Cusco you can go to the Machu Picchu ticket office on Plazoleta Regocijo and try to get a refund for the original ticket. I can't guarantee that they'll give you a refund.

Heather Jasper
Answered by Heather Jasper

About the author

Huayna Picchu hike

Heather Jasper

Based in Cusco, Peru, Heather is an expert on travel to Peru and South America. Heather writes on tourism, trekking, and social issues in Peru for publications including BBC Travel, Fodor’s Travel, Matador Network, Thrifty Nomads, World Nomads, Frommer's, Flashpack, and more. Heather co-founded the Covid Relief Project with Henry Quintano Loaiza to assist vulnerable families in the Cusco region.

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