Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña) or Wayna Picchu – 5 questions to help you decide

If you want something more from your visit to Machu Picchu you can decide to take on one of the two famous hikes, Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña) or Wayna Picchu. Both offer extraordinary views of the citadel of Machu Picchu, but if you only have one day, you can only pick one to climb. This article will help you answer the age-old question: Montaña or Wayna Picchu?

Map showing the location of Machu Picchu Mountain & Wayna Picchu
The green Machu Picchu citadel viewed from Wayna Picchu
View from Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu

The Wayna Picchu hike is well known for its daring summit with minimal security, as well as the amazing view courageous hikers are rewarded with. This is the reason why permits for Wayna Picchu are already sold out 2-3 months before your scheduled visit date.

However, there is another option for those hoping to see Machu Picchu’s citadel from a higher elevation: Machu Picchu Mountain.

When looking at amazing Instagram photos of both, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one you would like to climb. In this article, we will ask you 5 key questions to help you decide which exciting hike is the right fit for you.

How high do you want to climb?

During the Wayna Picchu hike, you will ascend about 290 m (951 ft) whereas Machu Picchu Mountain is a total climb of 621 m (2,037 ft). That means that if you hike Montaña you will not only have a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, but also of Wayna Picchu!

Sign at Machu Picchu showing the directions for Inti Punku path & Machu Picchu Mountain

How many travelers do you want to cross paths with?

Since Wayna Picchu is usually the preferred hike, it tends to be much more crowded than Machu Picchu Mountain. If you are looking for a more relaxed pace, Montaña could be right for you. Even though there are some tight areas where only one person can pass at a time, there are also plenty of spaces where you can take a break without getting into anyone’s way – perfect for taking stunning photos during the hike.

Narrow section of the path up to the top of Wayna Picchu Mountain
Narrow section of the path to the top of Wayna Picchu

How long in advance do you want to buy your ticket?

It is required to buy a ticket for Wayna Picchu months in advance! This is due to the fact that only a limited number of visitors are allowed per day – 200 divided into two different shifts (before Corona). In comparison, 400 visitors can visit Machu Picchu Mountain in a day.

Montaña does not sell out as fast and is a better option for last-minute travelers. The prices for the tickets are the same (at 65 USD for an adult).

Personal data (full name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number) is required to purchase both tickets. Once issued, tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Keep in mind that both the Montaña and Wayna Picchu tickets include only a limited visit to Machu Picchu. In order to see Machu Picchu, an additional ticket is necessary. Check out our article about the general Machu Picchu visiting rules for more information on ticket types and anything else you would like to know about this world-renowned site.

Entrance ticket to Wayna Picchu

Do you want to visit in the afternoon?

  • There are 4 time slots of 60 minutes each to choose from for admission to Wayna Picchu:
  • 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00 = maximum of 50 visitors for each time slot
  • There are 2 time slots of 60 minutes each for admission to Machu Picchu Mountain:
  • 07:00, 08:00 = maximum 200 visitors for each time slot
  • It is important to keep in mind therefore that if you pick Machu Pichu mountain, an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes (the town of Machu Picchu) is required on the previous day.

How long do you want to climb?

Although Machu Picchu Mountain is less daring than Wayna, it is still no walk in the park. In fact, since Machu Picchu Mountain is higher, it takes nearly twice as long to climb as Wayna Picchu. Wayna takes around 2 to 3 hours for the return climb, whereas Machu Picchu Mountain can take around 4 to 5 hours. The difference to the degree of challenge is that Wayna is much steeper and in no way a suitable option for those scared of heights. Although Machu Picchu Mountain is also steep, the path is mostly wider and therefore perceived as less scary than Wayna.

Sign in Wayna Picchu

My Personal Experience Hiking Machu Picchu Mountain

I had the opportunity to hike Montaña and even as a young active individual, I still had to stop several times to catch my breath. Going down, I also had to sometimes use both my feet and hands, to keep my balance. Personally, I would NOT recommend the hike for elderly people or children under 12. However, if you are able and do decide to take on this hike, your efforts will not go unrewarded. The view is incredible, and the experience is remarkable! My advice? Go for it!

traveler in front of mountain Machu picchu sign

More Useful Tips

  • Take an extra shirt with you on the hike (not only is the hike strenuous, but the weather can be very humid)
  • Take only a small backpack with you
  • Apply sunblock before the hike and take a small bottle with you
  • Umbrellas are not allowed in Machu Picchu, so make sure you buy a waterproof Poncho before you go (the weather can be very unpredictable)
  • Take some light snacks as well as a banana with you to prevent muscle cramps
  • Make sure to use the bathroom before entering Machu Picchu, there are no toilets in the park and none on the hike
  • Take water and a bottle of Power- or Gatorade (great for battling altitude sickness) with you

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