Hiking at Machu Picchu, beyond the archeological site

Hiking at Machu Picchu, beyond the archeological site

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The Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary authority (DRC-C) controls and limits access to Machu Picchu archeological site.   The daily visitor limit is 2,500 visitors per day to Machu Picchu.  Since we purchase your prepaid site entrances to visit Machu Picchu in timely fashion, this hard cap will not impact most of our passengers.  But if your goal is to hike beyond it, you need to commit well in advance of arriving in Peru to secure your permit.

To protect our passengers’ access to the archeological site during peak demand dates means we have to purchase Machu Picchu entrance tickets further in advance than we previously did.  The ticket contains the passenger’s name, nationality, passport number, gender and age as listed on the passport.  The ticket is not transferrable to another date or traveler, and it is non-refundable.  Visitors need to bring their passport with them to Machu Picchu. Park authorities will refuse entry to those whose ticket detail doesn’t match their passport data.

For visitors who wish to hike beyond this Peruvian tourist icon, permits are sold bundled with a single-day archeological site entry.   The new destinations in 2020 are priced at $94.

  • Huayna Picchu mountain
  • Machu Picchu mountain

There is no provision in the current rules to add either or both of these hiking destinations to an existing Machu Picchu ticket without paying for the full archeological site ticket.  Nor is there a sensible mechanism whereby passengers can combine more than one of these add-on destinations in a single day visit to Machu Picchu.  If you arrive from the Inca Trail and wish to climb Huayna Picchu, you must purchase an entirely separate bundled ticket.

For passengers seeking to add any of the new bundled destinations (Huayna Picchu mountain or Machu Picchu mountain) to the archeological site entry ticket already required for their program, we will charge $94 per requested ticket. We will need to know your preference about 5-6 months before your trip.

Huayna Picchu mountain

The control gate where you sign out for hike Huayna Picchu mountain is at the northern end of the archeological site esplanade.  The trail is narrow, with steep pitches and sheer drop-offs.  Anyone who suffers from vertigo should avoid this route.  You first descend to a saddle, then begin the steep, switch-backing climb to the summit. On this well-maintained trail, there are fixed cables to help you over steeper pitches.  Near the top, the route forks.  The right fork takes you via a tunnel to the summit, the left takes you via a VERY steep stone staircase to the summit.  Impressive views. Allow 2-2.5 hours.  Tickets are sold for entry between the hours of either 7-8 AM (Group 1) or 10-11 AM (Group 2).

Huayna Picchu

Machu Picchu Mountain

As you depart the Watchman’s Hut  along the Inca Trail toward Gate of the Sun, look for a trail heading upward to the right.  This is an obvious, well-engineered staircase leading up through the finely-crafted terrace walls, about 100 yards up the trail from the Watchman’s Hut.  At the control gate your ticket will be checked.  Group 1 entry is 7AM8AM, Group 2 entry at 9AM-10AM.  It’s a 3-4 hour round trip, with much of the route laid in Inca paving stones. The last short pitch to the summit is steep and rocky.  From the Inca ritual platform at the summit (10,109’/3082m), you enjoy spectacular views toward Phuyupatamarca ruins (on the Inca Trail), and beyond to the sacred peak of Nevado Salcantay   Compared to the Huayna Picchu route, this trail tends to be uncongested, though you may share the summit with other hikers.  Approximate elevation gain: 2,237 ft./682 m

Besides those two mountains for hiking, at Machu Picchu archeological site; there are on following lines different site which will need to have just a time investment.

Machu Picchu mountain


The Inca Bridge

From the terrace immediately below the Watchman’s Hut, follow a broad trail to your left, climbing slightly into forest beyond the end of the terracing west of the quarry sector.  After a 20 minutes hike from the control point, you reach a viewpoint.  The Inca drawbridge was a control point where the trail crossed a sheer cliff.  While you are not permitted to hike all the way to the bridge, you’ll see orchids, colorful birds, and appreciate the memorable engineering of the bridge itself.

Inca bridge at Machu Picchu


Inti Punku (Sun Gate).

This is the most popular and accessible of the optional hikes.  No additional fee is charged for this route.  Allow one hour to climb from the Watchman’s Hut (AKA the postcard viewpoint) to Inti Punku, the Gate of the Sun (1 mile, and approximately 1,000 feet elevation gain to 8,880 ft).  The trail is broad with comparatively moderate exposure.  Hikers suffering from vertigo can make it to the pass with only minor anxiety.  Several shrines, a cave and other Inca features mark your progress.  From the Inca guard post constructed at Inti Punku, you enjoy a classic view of the valley and the citadel below you.

Sun gate at Machu Picchu


Important notes:

There are no toilet facilities on these routes, nor anywhere within the Machu Picchu citadel.  Toilet facilities (small cash fee for entry) are located by the shuttle bus turnaround, just outside the Machu Picchu main gate.  When entering Machu Picchu, bring your passport, as your identity will be carefully checked.  Bring water in non-disposable bottles (Nalgene, stainless steel or similar).  Also bring sunscreen, insect repellent, raingear, a sun hat, and sturdy footwear.  While authorities at the control gate permit you to enter with a small daypack, officially no food is permitted anywhere in Machu Picchu archeological site.  Hence, bulky bag lunches will be refused entry.  You can check bulky belongings at the left-luggage kiosk outside the main gate.  If you intend to do a hike, bring Power bars or similar compact snacks, and carry out your trash.

Hiking options from the town of Machu Picchu (No reserved tickets are required)

Mandor waterfall

3.5 hours round trip.  Follow the rail line down along the river below the town.  Shortly below Puente Ruinas (where the shuttle buses cross the river and begin their switchbacking climb up to Machu Picchu) there is an organic garden and orientation centre.  Beyond, note the spectacular water-shaped granite boulders in the river channel. You reach Mandorpampa, a farm where Hiram Bingham camped on his first expedition.  The trail cuts through the farmer’s field into the forest away from the river.  It’s a short walk through tropical forest to an exquisite waterfall and pool in a small glade.  The water is cold!

The Mandor Waterfall in Machupicchu

Machu Picchu Site Museum and Botanical Garden

Located across the bridge at Puente Ruinas, 1.7 km downriver from Aguas Calientes.  This museum (entrance S/. 25) has a small display of artifacts from the site above.  There is good birding in the adjacent botanical garden.

museum in machupicchu

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel commercial excursions:   Inquire at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel about their orchid garden; ornithology guided tours; the tea plantation; and the Spectacled Andean Bear Rescue Project.

We hope this information has been of your complete help. Do not forget to share it on your social networks or with your friends so they have a good experience when visit  Peru and the citadel of Machu Picchu.

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