in Huayna Picchu

4 Alternatives to Climbing Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu is the famous mountain behind Machu Picchu. It will grant you the best bird’s eye view of the Inca ruins. But the entrance to the Young Peak is limited to 400 people per day. In addition, the entrance is limited to the morning hours (for detailed information on climbing Huayna Picchu click here). If you can’t make it in time or the tickets to Huayna Picchu are already booked out, here are your alternatives

Machu Mountain

Machu Moutain standing high behind the Inca ruins of Machu Pichcu in Peru

Machu Picchu is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Your easiest alternative to seeing Machu Picchu from above is climbing Machu Mountain (Montaña Machu Picchu). You will need to book tickets for this option as well. Be aware that Machu Picchu Mountain is, at an altitude of 3,082 meters, considerably higher than Huayna Picchu and thus takes longer to hike. Calculate 3-4 hours for the full circuit. Tickets for Machu Picchu are limited to 400 per day (can be bought on the offical website). Unlike Huayna Picchu there are no two shifts, so you can enter any time between 7 and 11 am. Still, it is an equally challenging hike.

• You are higher and thus will see even more parts of the ruins from above
• Not as crowded
• Takes longer
• Not as good for photography because you will be photographing against the sun

Sun Gate (Inti Punku)

Sunrise seen from the Intipunku Sun Gate above Machu Picchu

Not everyone will want to climb to extreme heights. There is still a way to see Machu Picchu from above, without facing a sheer vertical drop of 400 meters and more as in the case of Huayna Picchu or Machu Mountain. The Sun Gate (Inti Punku in Quechua) was the original entrance to Machu Picchu. Travelers taking the Inca Trail will actually still enter the ruins via this auspicious structure. But it is quite possible to hike up to the Sun Gate as well. The round trip will take you roughly 60 to 90 minutes. The Sun Gate is especially popular in the morning, as it is the first spot within the sanctuary of Machu Picchu that sees the sun rising.

• No ticket needed
• Fairly easy to hike
• open all day
• Doesn’t grant a perfect bird’s eye view
• will be photographing against the sun

Putucusi Mountain

machu picchu as seen from Phutuq K'usi Mountain - a good alternative to Huayna Picchu

Sitting right opposite of Machu Picchu is another peak few people ever hear about. It is called Putucusi Mountain and absolutely free to enter. For those who have a spare morning in Aguas Calientes, this is actually a wonderful alternative to climbing Huayna Picchu. The trail starts behind the Sumaq Hotel in Aguas Calientes and is infamous for its huge wooden ladders and very challenging hiking passages. The round trip will take approximately 3 hours and take you up to an altitude of 2,500 meters.

• Seeing Machu Picchu from a new angle
• No ticket needed (not even a Machu Picchu ticket)
• Virtually no tourists
• Very challenging hike
• Can be closed due to security reasons

Huchuy Picchu

The view from the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) on the Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu from above

The last option on this list of alternatives to climbing Huayna Picchu is in fact not a true alternative at all. Huchuy Picchu is the smaller peak right next to Huayna Picchu. It can only be climbed with valid tickets to Huayna Picchu. The difference is just, that being so small the hike is way shorter and not particularly challenging. Most people will head straight up to Huayna Picchu and will have no energy (or time) left to climb its smaller brother mountain as well. This is actually quite the mistake because Huchuy Picchu will offer you a totally new view of Machu Picchu. In particular, you will be so much closer to the ruins, which makes it ideal for photography.

• Seeing Machu Picchu from a new angle
• Easy to moderate hike
• Not as high as Huayna Picchu (so ideal for taking pictures)
• Tickets for Huayna Picchu needed
• No true bird’s eye view possible due to low altitude
4 spectacular alternative hikes in Machu Picchu. All tickets for Huayna Picchu gone? despair not - here are different options to see the famous Inca Ruins from above
Photocredit: bobistravelingDimitry B.
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