Many months prior to our departure for Peru, buying two of the four hundred daily permits to hike Huanya Picchu (also known as Wayna Picchu) seemed like a brilliant idea.
Hiking into Machu Picchu the day prior, gazing at the iconic peak of Peru, I began to wonder if my brain had been frozen during the long Canadian winter when the booking was made.
Huayna Picchu, hovering over the postcard like Incan ruins, often makes it’s way onto lists of the world’s most dangerous climbs. No we didn’t tell our mothers prior to departure.
Towering 1,180 feet over the lost city of Machu Picchu, the peak offers astounding views of Peru’s sacred valley. Gaining more than 1000 feet in elevation over one mile we fondly referred to it as the King of Inca stairmasters.
Some refer to the adventure as the Hike of Death and it is treacherous in places. Certainly by North American standards, Huanya Picchu is begging for triple copies of waiver forms and many more metal cables to hang on to.
The captivating view of Machu Picchu awaits those who are willing to overcome fears of heights and a bit of claustrophobia squeezing through a tiny cave, to the most astounding panorama.
Tips for the hike Huanya Picchu
Book your ticket as far in advance as possible.
Only 400 people are allowed on the trail per day, 200 at 8:00am and 200 at !0:00am. As mentioned our permits were booked months in advance. Your passport will be required for both entrance into the main gates of Machu Picchu and at the entrance for the hike. You can find more information about booking here.
Arrive early or late for your start time
You have one hour from your designated start time to get on the trail. Our suggestion is to arrive 30 minutes early to be at the front of the line or 30 minutes late. Waiting for 15 minutes with others does nothing for slightly frayed nerves.
The only restrooms available are outside the main gates of Machu Picchu. You will need at least an extra 15-20 minutes to make your way from there to the check in for the hike.
Take off your pack before going through the caves
With apologies to our friend who got stuck in a small passage way. We learned through his wriggling struggles that having your pack off will make for a far more comfortable squeeze through the narrow opening near the top.
Watch for direction signs at the top
At the top of the hike their are large boulders that one can sit on. The view is really no more dramatic than the small terraces below and they are crowded with fellow hikers. If you have been challenged by heights on the climb consider just following the directional arrows that will guide you to the path down to Macchu Picchu.
The hike is approximately two hours round trip. Bring water, a snack and possibly a rain coat. Be sure t be wearing sunscreen , a hat and sunglasses. Poles are optional but most people do not use them. Hands are called to action for climbing on all fours.
Compact, foldable lightweight poles are helpful for hiking sections. Put them in your pack when climbing. Another option is to check your pack at the front gate of Machu Picchu.
There are multiple hiking options at Machu Picchu. Would the hike Huanya Picchu be for you?