You’ve come all the way to Peru, landed in Cusco and you’re on your way to see our Wonder of the Modern World! It’s a place shrouded in mystery but offering up both history, culture and natural wonder to any visitor. Did you know that inside the citadel, there are 3 extra hikes you can do to see the site from a different perspective and explore its surroundings? They are Machu Picchu Mountain, Huayna Picchu Mountain and Huchuy Picchu Mountain (the one this blog’s about)!
Why Huchuy Picchu Mountain?
The name of this little mountain means, well, “little mountain” in the native language of Quechua! Huchuy Picchu (pronounced oo-choo-ee peek-choo) is a relaxed, easy hike up an Inca staircase. It’s the easiest and shortest of the 3 hikes within the national park. This is a great option for families with younger children or less active travelers who still want a little adventure. This trail was just opened in 2021 and gives you great views of Machu Picchu from above plus a better look at the surrounding natural scenery without a very strenuous hike. Another plus is that an entrance ticket including this hike costs the same as a general entrance to the citadel of Machu Picchu.
So here’s everything you need to know about Huchuy Picchu Mountain!
- Buying the Ticket
- Getting to the Trailhead
- The Trail
- Exploring Circuit 4
- The Best Time to Go + Weather
- What to Wear & Pack
- Let’s Go!
Buying the Ticket
For all the detailed information about national park reservations, here’s how to buy your Machu Picchu ticket with entrance to Huayna Picchu Mountain. In short, you need to get the ticket for “Circuito 4 + Montaña Huchuypicchu”.
- You’ll choose either the 7-8 AM, 8-9 AM, 9-10 AM, 10-11 AM, 11 AM-12 PM, 12-1 PM, 1-2 PM or 2-3 PM entrance time (which means you’ll enter the trail either between 8-9 AM, 9-10 AM, 10-11 AM, 11 AM-12 PM, 1-2 PM, 2-3 PM or 3-4 PM, respectively). It will be printed on the upper lefthand corner of your ticket.
- Only 200 of these tickets are available per day, 25 for each time slot. You should make a reservation at least 1 month in advance and, if possible, longer.
- It includes entrance to visitation circuit 4 of the citadel (see below).
- It costs 152 soles for an adult, 77 soles for a student with ISIC, 70 soles for a child between 3-17 and free for a child under 3 (prices for foreigners).
- The total time limit for your visit to Machu Picchu in general is 6 hours.
- You must bring a printed copy of your ticket to the entrance gate.
Note: If you’re hiking the Inca Trail, you’ll need to buy a second Machu Picchu ticket in order to hike Huchuy Picchu Mountain. Inca Trail hikers are only allowed entrance to circuit 5 of the citadel.
If you need more specifics on any of these points, read this detailed guide.
Getting to the Trailhead
The time slot for entrance to the trail is designated for 1 hour after your entrance time slot to the National Park. For example, if you enter Machu Picchu between 7-8 AM, you’ll need to enter the trail between 8-9 AM, so it’s better to arrive at the beginning of your 60 minute time slot (7 AM) rather than at the end (8 AM).
First, you’ll pass through the entrance gate for circuits 3 & 4. Go straight forward, following the wooden signs toward Huchuy Picchu Mountain. As you make your way to the trail from the Machu Picchu entrance, take advantage to tour the sites you’re passing as you won’t pass them again. You’ll be on a circular loop and see different sites as you’re leaving from the trailhead toward the park’s exit. Once you get to the control point for the trail (behind the Sacred Rock, the same entrance as Huayna Picchu), you’ll check in and show your passport and entrance ticket. After the hike, you’ll exit the park by continuing the looped path of circuit 4 of the citadel.
To take full advantage, you could enter at the earliest time of your ticket (for example, 7 AM) and then spend 1 hour and 45 minutes enjoying the citadel between the Machu Picchu entrance and the trailhead to then begin your hike at 8:45 AM. Just make sure you pass the mountain’s checkpoint before your time slot ends (in this case, 9 AM).
The path starts out on a slight incline, using the same path as those heading to Huayna Picchu Mountain. There will be a fork in the road to separate the two trails, and you’ll follow the path straight ahead to Huchuy Picchu (there’s a wooden sign). From there, you’ll start ascending centuries-old stone stairs to the summit, enjoying the lush vegetation and listening to birdsong as you hike. Most of the path is wide, but there are some narrow parts along the way. The stones do get slippery in rainy season (November-March).
The views will get better and better as you go up! The perspective is similar to that of Huayna Picchu, giving you a chance to gaze out over the green peaks and valleys of the cloud forest and see a unique, bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu. As could be expected, it’s somewhat less panoramic than its neighboring mountain’s summit because it’s at a lower elevation, but it’s still an amazing option for a new perspective of the scenery! It’s surreal to see vast, untamed wilderness on all sides accompanied by the obviously once-inhabited and thoughtfully designed Machu Picchu jutting up in the middle of it.
Here are some stats:
- Max elevation: 2497 MASL / 8192 FASL
- Elevation gain: 70 meters / 220 feet
- Hiking distance: 1 km / 0.6 miles
- Hiking time: 1 hour round trip
- Difficulty level: Easy
Exploring Circuit 4
There are 5 established visitation circuits to traverse the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. You can find maps of each on Peru’s official Machu Picchu website. Here’s a map with the 4 main circuits shown together. Each is designed to cater to different schedules (ex: allowing time to hike an extra mountain) and activity levels (ex: those who walk/hike well VS those who have limited mobility).
When you buy a ticket including Huayna Picchu Mountain, you’re only allowed to enter circuit 4. The route takes about 2.5 hours to explore. It’s a longer circuit but only visits the lower portions of the citadel. The attractions you’ll pass are:
Qolqas (Granaries) → Agricultural Zone → Water Canal → Dry Well → Temple of the Sun → House of the Inka → Water Fountains → Sacred Rock → Twelve Openings → Eastern Qolqas → Water Mirrors → Temple of the Condor → Pisonay Plaza → Archeological Reserve
The best option is to do a guided tour in order to understand what you’re seeing! You can visit with a tour from Cusco, do a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu or hire a guide outside the entrance gate if you arrive on your own.
Very Important: You’ll need to hire a guide that will do the first part of the tour on your way to the trailhead from the Machu Picchu entrance, wait for you while you do the hike and then complete the tour as you finish the looped circuit between the trailhead and the exit gate. You won’t be allowed to re-enter the citadel of Machu Picchu once you’ve reached the end of the circuit.
Note: The Temple of the Condor is only open for visits from 10 AM – 1 PM. The Temple of the Sun is only open for visits from 1-4 PM.
The Best Time to Go + Weather
In the Peruvian Andes, rainy season is from November to March, and dry season is from April to October. High tourism season coincides with dry season.
Machu Picchu is in the cloud forest of the Andes and, therefore, the weather is always warm and humid with lots of mosquitoes and biting sand flies.
Rainy season is considered summer while dry season is considered winter. Temperatures year-round range from 7°C to 28°C (44°F to 83°F). I can say from personal experience that it feels hotter than that! It’s just a few degrees warmer in rainy season and a few degrees cooler in dry season.
Humidity is, on average, 50% in dry season and 90% in rainy season.
Dry season pros:
- Less foggy in the mornings (better views)
- No need for a raincoat
- Less humidity
- Not as many bugs
- Stones aren’t slippery
Rainy season pros:
- Less crowded in the citadel (same amount of people on the Huayna Picchu hike)
- Easier to get tickets on shorter notice
- Rain will cool you off
- Cheaper plane tickets to Peru
So when’s the best time to visit? For the best of both worlds, try the shoulder months in September/October or March/April!
Note: The two busiest months of the high tourism season are June and July.
What to Wear & Pack
- Breathable activewear (long pants and long sleeves to avoid sunburn and mosquito bites; shorts and tank if you prefer)
- A hat, preferably a wide one that covers your ears and neck
- Water in zero-waste bottle(s)
- Zero-waste snacks
- Raincoat and extra socks (in rainy season)
- Sturdy walking/hiking shoes
- Camera and extra batteries
- Printed entrance ticket
- Physical or virtual covid-19 vaccination card (3 vaccines) OR negative PCR test
- Cash for the bathroom (costs 2 soles, located outside of the entrance gate)
- Cash for the bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back
Note: Trekking poles aren’t allowed in Machu Picchu except for the disabled and elderly and with prior permission from the governing authorities. If you do get permission, they must be rubber-tipped.
Ok, you’re all set for your hike up Huchuy Picchu Mountain! Get your reservation made ASAP!
If you’re an avid hiker, you can also reach Machu Picchu on a multi-day trek.
If you’re staying in Peru for a while, try out the other unbelievable hikes here.
And if you really want to take it to the next level, hike all around South America!
Is there any better way to travel?
Written by: Bethany Iversen Marrou
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