Really, the attractions Cusco offers are unending. Although Machu Picchu is known globally for the beauty of its ancient architecture, it also offers a lot of fun for lovers of trekking and mountain-climbing. When you visit Machu Picchu, not only will you feel a powerful energy and be surprised by the engineering mastery of the ancient Peruvians, but you’ll also be able to choose between two impressive mountains to climb. Whichever you choose, you’ll find excitement, feel connection with nature and see unique views of the Inca city of Machu Picchu. Sadly, you can’t climb both in one day because of the strict scheduling of visits to this archeological site.
We know that, starting out, the names can be confusing. First, you have to know that Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are two different things. When someone says just “Machu Picchu,” they’re referring to the archeological site, itself… you know, the one with the incredible stone structures. However, if someone says “Machu Picchu Mountain,” they’re referring to a mountain found beside the archeological site. On the other hand, Wayna Picchu is the beautiful mountain you see behind the archeological site in all the classic photos of Machu Picchu; remember it?
Okay, so now we’ll respond to some frequently-asked questions that will help you make the best decision.
Which mountain is bigger?
That’s easy. Machu Picchu Mountain (3,082 MASL / 10,112 FASL) is bigger than Wayna Picchu (2,720 MASL / 7,972 FASL). However, the trekking distance of both is the same: about 2 km. It’s important that you know it’ll take about 2.5-3 hours to hike Machu Picchu Mountain and 1.5-2 hours for Wayna Picchu. Both of these estimates are round-trip.
So that means it’s easier to climb Wayna Picchu?
Not necessarily. Climbing Machu Picchu mountain is more tiring but the Wayna Picchu route can cause panic for people with a fear of heights because of its thin trail constructed right on the side of the mountain. This means you’ll have immense drop-offs right beside you while you hike. The trail is so narrow that sometimes you have to take turns passing. In one part, you have to support yourself by holding on to security cables that have been installed. You know, if you suffer from vertigo or have a fear of heights, we don’t recommend that you hike Wayna Picchu. It’s also not recommended for kids or the elderly. On the other hand, Machu Picchu Mountain offers a harder route that won’t cause a panic. This path is much less saturated and also wider, which means you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy nature to its fullest without coming across a lot of other people.
Do I need tickets for both routes?
Yes, you need tickets both for Machu Picchu Mountain and Wayna Picchu. The caretakers of Machu Picchu are very strict, so make sure you have entrance tickets. We recommend reserving your ticket for Wayna Picchu at least 6 months in advance. There are only 400 tickets per day. On the other hand, the Machu Picchu Mountain route isn’t as busy, so there’s easily more availability of tickets for this option. There are also 400 spots a day available for Machu Picchu Mountain.
Which of the two offers the best view of the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu?
Both. The architecture of Machu Picchu is so extensive that any aerial view is simply astounding. Don’t doubt it: pleasure for your eyes is certain from either Machu Picchu Mountain or Wayna Picchu.
With this basic information, we believe you can determine which route fits better for you and which you’ll enjoy more. Now all you have to do is take the first step toward the adventure that could change your life. Take a risk, and get to know the mysteries waiting for you in Peru.
Featured image by: @e._woods