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bkuhl Aug 26th, 2013 06:46 PM

Huayna Picchu Vs. Machu Picchu Mountain?
Hi All,

I would really appreciate opinions on the hike of Huayna Picchu vs Machu Picchu Mountain (the old peak - not the citadel, not the sun gate).

In my research I'm getting conflicting info.

Everyone agrees that Huayna Picchu is faster - between 45 min to 1.5 hours, and that Machu Picchu Mountain is much higher and takes longer - about 3 hours.

The conflict is that some people are saying that Huayna Picchu is easier, some say harder. I can't tell if the criteria is simply endurance due to duration of hike?

My criteria for hard/easy would be more about how scary the hike is - sheer dropoffs, difficult areas where you have to pull yourself up/climb, etc. I can handle a fair amount of stairs and cardio, but I'm a little bit of a chicken. I've climbed the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, Mexico, but I went back down on my bum. Some pictures I've seen of Huayna Picchu look really scary, but it's hard to tell.

I would really appreciate anyone's thoughts on either/both peaks.


mlgb Aug 26th, 2013 08:27 PM

Too chicken to do either.

You might look on Youtube for videos rather than rely on someone else's assessment.

PuraAventura Aug 27th, 2013 05:19 AM

Hi Bkuhl,

Huayna Picchu is nothing comparable to any temple in Mexico (even the tallest one in Teotihuacan). It is harder than the Machu Picchu Mountain, a lot of steps and chains linked to the rock face. But we have a lot of clients (in their 50's and 60's) that go up it and seem to like it so if you can handle a fair amount of stairs and cardio this shouldn't be too mad for you!


mlgb Aug 27th, 2013 06:57 AM

Especially if they don't understand that the concern is vertigo/fear of exposure, rather than a question of effort.

colduphere Aug 27th, 2013 02:34 PM

We did the Inca Trail but neither trail you mention. I have a fear of heights. I wouldn't do Huayna Picchu in ten million years. Too exposed and too steep. Our guide Raul, who has a lot of credibility even among guides, told us that he would hike MP mountain over HP every time.

If you click on my trip report I think you will find a good video of MP mountain.

colduphere Aug 27th, 2013 02:40 PM

Oops sorry they were pictures and they seemed to have disappeared.

bkuhl Aug 29th, 2013 07:46 AM

Thanks all for the feedback.

Cold, nice trip report! It's giving me some courage. I think I'm going to give MP Mountain a go!

colduphere Aug 29th, 2013 05:30 PM

Good decision Bkuhl. It's too bad Ncounty hasn't seen this. She did MP Mountain. I'll try and prompt her to post something.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Aug 30th, 2013 02:40 PM

I've done HP. There were three sectors I did not like:

1) about 10 feet on the way up where you had to crawl on your hands and knees under some rocks. I'm a little claustrophobic.

2) a section where you had scoot on your butt down a 45-degree incline

3) a section where you had to descend stairs, and you could hug the wall on the left side with room to spare, but the right side was a sheer drop

I may be the only person who's ever made the ascent and descent with a briefcase in hand. This was a work-related trip and I needed to take notes. :)

Beyond that, I'm glad I did it, but my legs felt like rubber when I was finished.

mlgb Sep 5th, 2013 12:22 PM

BTW bkuhl I would recommend the hike to the Sun Gate for us chickens (no ticket needed). There are only a few quick spots where the path is not wide enough and there is not a wall to hug on one side. They were over quickly and if I remember there were handrails there, which helped.

There are actually a few spots just beyond the "hitching post" where you may not want to stand. You can always walk back down the way you came up, rather than off the steep side.

BrokenMeadows Sep 6th, 2013 12:26 PM

I'm quite afraid of heights, and had a panic attack at the top of Huayna Picchu. I've gone bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding, flown small airplanes, done high ropes courses, and climbed many other mountains, and Huayna Picchu was the first time my fear of heights got the best of me. I started crying, shaking, and clutching the tiny bits of grass with both hands. A bunch of strangers, tourists and guides alike, helped comfort me and helped me get myself together enough to climb back down. That mountain is scary. There are really steep, narrow paths with no handrails or ropes, and a straight 1,000 ft drop off the side. There are tiny caves to crawl through and shaky wooden ladders to climb. There are sheer rock faces to scoot down, scooting your way towards a cliff if you happen to slip. Once you pass the tree line and are on the terraces, you realize how high you are, and that there is nothing to save you if you get hurt or fall. The day I was there a man had a heart attack, and had to be carried down the steep, narrow trail by two porters, then bussed to the train station, then taken on a 4 hour train ride, just to get to a hospital. There's no helicopter coming to rescue you up there.

All that being sad, I'm so glad I did it. The views are incredible, the sense of accomplishment is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life, and the comraderie on the hike is a special thing to feel.

You can check out my pictures and the full post I wrote about it here:

colduphere Sep 7th, 2013 04:03 AM

Wonderful, honest answer BrokenMeadows. But I hope you don't sell cars for a living.

geetika Sep 9th, 2013 03:40 AM

Like mlgb we also did the Sun Gate, breath-taking views and a fairly easy hike. I suffer from vertigo and wouldn't even think of going up HP. DH would've liked to, but he was just recovering from a bad knee and let me talk him out of it, though every time we look back on our Peru trip he throws this at me:)!

Axel2DP Sep 15th, 2013 10:30 AM

I did both Huayna Picchu and Macchu Picchu Mountain back in 2009. HP is steeper, but MP Mountain felt like it had more steps and took longer. I remembered it was relatively quicker for me to get up HP. Some portion I was kind of apprehensive about the steepness and narrowness of the steps, but they weren't that bad. Just don't climb HP when it's wet. It was much harder for me physically to get to the top of MP Mountain, but that could also be due to the fact that I had finished the Inca Trail one day, climbed Huayna Picchu the next day and then came back the immediate day after to climb MP Mountain. Needless to say, my legs by the third day was screaming obscenities :)

I thought the view from atop MP Mountain was more beautiful than from Hyuana Picchu, and it was definitely less crowded back then. But I'm sure more people have discovered it since then though.

Axel2DP Sep 15th, 2013 10:34 AM

View from MP Mountain:

ancientsummit Sep 18th, 2013 05:41 PM

I would advise that you take the advice and experiences you are reading on these posts. You sound as if you are definitely not a candidate for Huayna Picchu and going down is even worse than going up. Machu Picchu Mountain is longer and hopefully you go with a good guide at your own pace and the views are amazing and you will not have to be among the crowds. It is the road much less traveled and is wonderful.

maggie364 Dec 10th, 2013 01:18 PM

This is obviously late for your trip bkuhl, but I hope my insights along with the others posted will help others. MP is up and down and up and down. It is a lot of change of elevation and there are hundreds of steps to climb up and down on. I was with a group 60 years old, and we recently (Oct. 2013) climbed both MP and HP. (I am 60) HP is harder in my opinion because you are not always on stairs, you are on dirt paths, stairs and rock. It is sometimes scary since you are close to cliff edges, but if you can get over that, it is doable, although it was tiring. I did not see anyone ‘wigging out’ because they were scared, but I did see a couple of older people not being able to endure the climb. I am of average fitness. On the whole, I was very proud I could do the HP climb. It was not as scary as I was lead to believe and the view from the top looking down at the MP ruins was spectacular. If anyone who reads this is vacillating because of physical aptitude, I’d say – go slowly, but if you are truly afraid of heights and falling I would not suggest climbing.

expatsinsantiago Dec 10th, 2013 01:33 PM

Also helpful to know that you can only get to HP after you already are inside the gate of MP. It's not an either / or. You need a special HP ticket with your MP ticket, as they only allow 200 HP climbers per day. It's pretty scary, probably the most afraid I've ever been, but like the poster above, I'm very glad I did it. My husband and 12 year old son also made the climb.

PuraAventura Dec 11th, 2013 03:39 AM

I have just found this very impressive 360 aerial views of Machu Picchu, so you can have a small taste of what is being at the top of HP and MP. Enjoy!

ncounty Dec 15th, 2013 12:12 PM

Just coming across this post.... I only did Machu Picchu mountain and it was very very challenging. It was the hardest physical endeavor I have done.
I tried to look it up online to find out how high it was but only came across some posts and one person summed it up well, "excruciating", lol. It doesn't help that it was slick with light rain and mist when I did it and I did not have proper shoes, at all, and I was alone. And, the trail was broken/being repaired at one point and the workers helped me climb up and bypass the problem by going up a rope they had in place.

It looked to be twice as high as Huaynu picchu and I was looking down on clouds and on Huaynu picchu when I was done. It was exhilarating. I think I only encountered about ten people on the entire 3 hours of my climb whereas Huaynu picchu has 200 per day and you have to line up at 4 or 5 am to make that list/cutoff.

I am so glad I did it but be prepared for some effort. My legs were also like rubber for the next two days so I took time off and went white water rafting on the Urubamba next which required no leg exertion at all.

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