Hike to the Top of Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Details

Distance

0.6 miles

Elevation Gain

65.6 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by Tam McTavish

Across the ridge from the famed Huayana Picchu is Machu Picchu mountain, the peak the city itself is built upon. A steep trail leads to it's summit that is well worth the grind.

Machu Picchu is one of the world's most well known sights, and this reputation is rightly earned. The incredible views are hard to get to. With talks of lottery permit systems, and longer closure periods it's going to get more challenging to get to this once in a lifetime location. 

Getting to the town of Aguas Caliente can be a challenge as there are no direct roads leading to the town. The railway is the main connection, though shuttles that drop you off a couple kilometres of spectacular hiking outside of town are a superb way to get to the city. 

Aguas Caliente is a spectacularly situated town that is worth spending more than one night in. The town itself has arisen specifically due to tourism, giving it the ambiance of every tourist trap ever, with a Andean flag drapped over it. But the energy of the town is vibrant, and intoxicating. Throngs of tourists giddy with anticipation for one of the worlds most well known landmarks crowd the streets, and it's easy to get swept up in people happiness.

The bus start very early in the morning, but if you want to get up quick then your best bet is get there even earlier. Even if you're there at 4 30am you won't be first in line. 5 30 is a descent time to turn up and ensure you get up reasonably early and might even make sunrise. Alternatively you can hike up the steep trail that leads to the entrance as well, meaning you can skip the bus crowds. But watch out. The trail crosses the road frequently and the bus drivers are low on patience for the tourists. 

Once you get up to the ruins it's a pretty strait forward loop to follow around the city. There isn't much to say really. Just charge in and explore for yourself. 

Information is sparse, so a guide, or comprehensive readings beforehand are highly recommended if you want to appreciate the historic significance of the architecture, layout, and design. 

There are four "extra curricular" that you can do. Hike Huayan Picchu, or Mount Machu Picchu. Either one takes a few hours. Shorter, but also time consuming is the Sun Gate, and Incan Bridge. 

The Incan Bridge is a quick venture, and pretty impressive. Mt. Machu Picchu affords the best views of the valley, and the whole city. Huayana Picchu has more temples and structures to explore as well as spectacular trails and vistas. The Sun Gate is pretty cool, but missable if you're on tight schedule. 

Overall it's a classic for a reason and well worth checking out. 

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