Huayna Picchu is the towering mountain behind the actual site of Machu Picchu. From a distance the mountain looks impossible to climb without the necessary tools but even though a strenuous climb with some parts where you will actually will need both hands and feet, the climb is quite possible for all averagely fit visitors. For many people climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu.
The climb itself is interesting as you will see how the Inca did cut out some steps out of the rocks and as you wind around the side of a mountain will see Machu Picchu from different angles. Before you reach the top you will also have to go through a tunnel carved in the rocks and the higher you get the more structures you will recognize on the top of the mountain. Some structures and terraces are built on impossible places that really speak to your imagination.
Some structures are almost glued to the mountain side with a sheer drop of a couple of hundred meters on the other side. On a clear day (on cloudy days sometimes you cannot even see the site from here) the views of Machu Picchu seen from Huayna Picchu are breathtaking and do really give you an impression of the magnitude of the site. You will also be able to appreciate the different sectors of the site as the surrounding landscapes with some snowcapped mountains.
The climb to the peak takes about an hour on a steep rock staircase from where you will enjoy breath-taking views. There are cables attached to the rock in many places to help the climber and there are places to step aside to catch your breath and enjoy the view. To reach the summit you must climb through a very narrow tunnel through the rock on your hands and knees.
Coming down from the top, take the time to follow the hair-raising trail to the Temple of the Moon, located on the far side of Huayna Picchu. Here, a ceremonial shrine of sorts has been built into a cave lined with exquisite stonework and niches that were once probably used to hold mummies. Doing both the Moon Temple and the peak will take about 3-4 hours in total and it seems that very few people do both.
The descent down to the great cave has a few ladders involved including one at the bottom of a very narrow cliff-side staircase that may be overly frightening for some people. The great cave is quite a bit lower in altitude than the entrance to the Huayna Picchu path so after reaching the great cave, there is another long, tiring ascent.
Make sure you have your passport with you and get it stamped with a Huayna Picchu stamp at the sign in/out gate.
Climbing Huayna Picchu certainly is challenging, yet one of the most rewarding experiences one can have in a lifetime!
Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.