The emblematic symbol of Machu Picchu is the mighty steep mountain that towers above the ancient Inca citadel. It is a natural stone pyramid that points toward the Andean skies as if connecting the earth and the heavens. It’s obvious why the Incas chose such a unique geographical site to build the splendorous city of Machu Picchu by looking at photos of it. Being there, and climbing to the peak of Wayna Picchu is an experience never forgotten. An adventurous challenge for the mind, body, and soul.

It is not all that difficult to climb Wayna Picchu, and it takes about an hour. But the climb requires steady footing and being in relatively good shape. The summit stands 850 ft. (260 m.) above Machu Picchu itself. And the trail is quite steep in parts, winding around the mountain mostly along ancient stone stairways built by the Incas. The steeper sections have metal handrails to help you along. This hike may not be a wise choice for people who suffer from a severe fear of heights or who are feeling ill. But if that is not a problem, it is a truly wonderful and exhilarating climb!

An alternate trail descends down the backside of Wayna Picchu, reaching the Inca sites of the Temple of the Moon and Great Cavern. This trail continues as a longer loop around the mountain and returns to Machu Picchu.

Wayna Picchu
Waynapicchu Mountain – Photo by Sean Thoman on Unsplash

A few more things to climb Wayna Picchu

You need to know a few more things in order to climb Wayna Picchu. Good hiking boots are necessary at any time of year. And even though it can be climbed all year round, it can be dangerous during the wet season, from November to April. Since the rain makes the steps quite slippery and fog can limit visibility.

Inca terraces and buildings lie at the top of Wayna Picchu and along its slopes- an astonishing feat of architecture. From the top, the panorama is phenomenal: Steep mountains covered by cloud forest, snowcapped Mt. Salcantay in the distance, Machu Picchu is seen as if in miniature, and far down below, the roaring Vilcanota River winds around the mountain. Simply put- wow!!

Lore and folklore about Wayna Picchu are interesting, but the true purpose and function of Machu Picchu remain a mystery. The name in Quechua means “Young Mountain” or “Young Pyramid”. It is said that the Inca and his entourage would walk up to the peak every morning to greet their highest deity, Inti, the Sun. Some have also suggested that the buildings around the peak housed the high priest and the noble virgins. Some experts have theorized that Machu Picchu was ordered built by Inca Pachacutec as a summer palace and a religious center.

Remember to reserve in advance!

An important point is that the Wayna Picchu climb should be reserved well in advance. In fact, months ahead for climbs during peak tourist season (June through August). Regulations limit the number of climbers to 400 per day, divided into two shifts (entrance from 8 to 9 AM, or 10 to 11 AM). Visitors need to take the shuttle bus up early to get to the trailhead, where each person must register. It is not possible to climb the peak on one’s own without going through the registration process. So, please remember, reserving your Wayna Picchu climb months ahead is the only way to do it.

Moreover, the best way to arrange a climb of Wayna Picchu is to contact us early on at andeanlodges.com to reserve and make your dream trip to Machu Picchu a reality, on a wonderful Andean Excursions acclimatization tour. Wayna Picchu and the wonders of Cusco are waiting for you!

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