Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are short hikes that begin inside Machu Picchu National Park. In 2021, they added a new baby sister hike called Huchuy Picchu.  We offer a description and comparison of the three hikes below. (Huayna is sometimes seen spelled "Wayna" because that's how it's pronounced. Wayna Picchu and Huayna Picchu are the same place) 

What's the most important thing to know about the tickets for the 4 hikes at Machu Picchu?

There are now 4 hikes in Machu Picchu national park. I"m not including the Inca Trail hike which is a completely separate system. These are 4 circuits inside the park, two of which are accessed from the upper terraces and two circuits are in the lower section of the park. Each of the 4 hikes is paired with one circuit. The latest ticket changes have paired the hike to Huayna Picchu with lower circuit 4. If this is the only ticket you buy, you will not have access to the upper circuit and the Classic view of Machu Picchu unless you do one of the following two things:

  • Hike the short or long Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Hikers descend from the Sungate and have exclusive access to stop at the Guard House on the upper terrace before they tour the lower circuit #5 that comes with the hiking permit. (4 Day Inca Trail hikers can tour the circuit on the same day they hike in. Two-day and 5-day Inca Trail hikers spend the night in Aguas Calientes and go back the next day.)
  • Buy an extra ticket for Llaqta de Machu Picchu which is the only ticket that includes access to the upper terraces for the classic view of Machu Picchu. 

Click Here to see our Peru Pre-Departure Information page with details about money, dining and other relevant travel informatoin

The checkpoint for the Mountain hike is above the upper terrace. The checkpoint for Huayna Picchu and Huchuy Picchu is on the far side of the park on the lower circuits. Tickets for Huayna Picchu hike are the most popular and always sell out in advance. Sometimes several months in advance during the busy season. (Easter to October) Some people buy tickets to Machu Picchu Mountain as a fallback if Huayna Picchu tickets are sold out. 

Here's a list of the hikes inside Machu Picchu in the same order you will see them on the government website: (does not include the Inca Trail)

1. (Lower) Circuit 4 + Montana WaynaPicchu  (Wayna and Huayna are the same word.just spelled differently)
2. Montana Machu Picchu + (Lower) Circuit 3 (includes access to the classic view of Machu Picchu from the upper terrace but no access to upper circuit)
3. (Lower) Circuit 4 + Montana HuchuyPicchu 
4. (Upper) Circuit 1 or 2 + Inca Puente (includes access to the classic view of Machu Picchu from the upper terrace and access to one of the two upper circuits
What is the different between "Upper Terrace" and "Upper Circuit?" CLICK HERE to read more.

Can anyone buy tickets to do the hikes inside Machu Picchu?

Yes. There is no age limit or screening. But people who are out of shape, fearful of heights, drop-offs, ledges and steep stone ladders might want to skip the Huayna Picchu hike. But the Huchuy Picchu hike might be a good substitute. If you're not sure, you can buy the tickets in advance and decide when you get there. Just don't expect to get a refund or transfer your ticket to anyone else. It's not possible to show up and buy a ticket. Not only do they sell out weeks or months in advance, tickets are not sold on site. If you don't hike, your spot will go empty and you can frame your ticket and hang it on your wall at home. If you buy a ticket to Machu Picchu then change your mind later and want to do a hike, your only choice is to buy another new ticket for the hike. All the various tickets for Machu Picchu can be purchased on the official Peruvian government website and you can buy more than one ticket per day. Here's a link to find out what you need to know about buying more than one ticket per day. 

Here's what you need to know about the trails, elevations and difficulty of the two hikes featured in this post:.

All hikes have specifci 1 hour window for you to checkin for that hike. When you buy your ticket you will see an entry time 1 hour earlier at the Machu Picchu Llaqta main gate. Here's a link to find out more about how the entry times work. 

Huayna Picchu: (also spelled Wayna Picchu)

  • tickets for Huayna Picchu hike DO NOT include access to the upper terraces and the classic view of Machu Picchu.
  • it's the hike on the little mountain you see behind the ruins in all the classic shots of Machu Picchu. Click Here to find out which circuits are best for the classic view
  • there are 4 hiking times per day. The first hike begins between 7-8 and the last hike begins from 10-11AM There are no afternoon hikes.
  • there can be a waiting line to sign in but there is a 1 hour window for sign in. Your ticket will display your checkin time. 
  • it takes 15 minutes or more to walk from the Machu Picchu main entry to the checkin for Huayna Picchu
  • ticket includes access to circuit #4 which allows you to enter Machu Picchu one hour before the time you are scheduled to start the hike.
  • the elevation gain is about 1000 ft to the summit and can be reached in 30 minutes or less if you are very fit and acclimatized
  • the trail begins with a short descent through small trees and cloud forest plants then opens up to steep stone steps that descend into a little saddle
  • from there the trail ascends with steep switchbacks and steps and eventually a bird's eye view of Machu Picchu if the weather conditions are clear
  • as you get closer to the summit the steps become narrow, very steep and it's necessary to hold cables installed in the granite walls to pull yourself up
  • just before the summit, there are very steep stone ladders that may require the use of hands to ascend
  • the summit is not flat and you must maneuver around huge granite boulders to get across the top
  • there is a short 1 way loop at the top that includes a slide through a short cave, then reunites with the original path for the descent back to checkpoint
  • the average time for roundtrip hike is about 1.5 hours, up to 2 hours

Tips for hiking Huayna Picchu:

  • avoid having anything dangling and swinging on your shoulders, waist or neck, as this is most likely to cause you to get snagged or lose your balance.
  • keep your hands free and if you hike with a trekking pole there are really steep sections where it's best to stash the pole out of the way

Huchuy Picchu: (new hike in 2021)

  • this is a little hill in front of Huayna Picchu. Here's a link to see it
  • Huchuy Picchu hike is easier than Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain hikes and short enough that most people can complete it in 40 minutes or less.
  • there are 8 hiking times beginning from 7-8 am and the last hike beginning between 14:00-15:00
  • this is the only hike with afternoon time slots
  • it takes about 15 minutes or more to get from the Machu Picchu main entry to the checkin for the hike
  • ticket includes access to circuit #4 which allows you to enter Machu Picchu one hour before the time you are scheduled to start the hike. 

Machu Picchu Mountain:

  • located between Huayna Picchu and Sungate, but closest to the Sungate. Sungate and MP Mountain are both opposite to Huayna Picchu.
  • there are 2 starting windows from 7-8AM and 8-9AM
  • tickets include access to circuit #3 which allows you to enter Machu Picchu one hour before the time you are scheduled to start the hike. Or after the hike. 
  • there is usually not a waiting line to enter, but when Huayna Picchu sells out during the busy season, this hike becomes more popular
  • the trail is a steady climb straight up the mountain on uneven stone steps with a few sections of rustic stone paths like a creek bed.  The majority of the trail, maybe 90%, is uneven, steep, stone steps. 
  • elevation gain is over 2000 ft, which is twice as high as Huayna Picchu. Although there are no sections where you need to hold on to ropes or chains, this hike is more difficult than Huayna Picchu because there are no breaks in the ascent and because the majority of the hike is on steps. 
  • views of Machu Picchu don't become visible until about 15 minutes into the hike, when you will reach the first landing. Otherwise the lower part of the hike is shrouded in foilage. The higher you get the more frequently you will see Machu Picchu, but it's not until you get near the summit that you can expect sustained views of the citadel below.
  • you hike the same path up and down
  • on average the hike takes up to 1.5 -2 hours to the summit. The descent takes 45 minutes to an hour and requires concentration to avoid falling. 
  • the summit is completely flat, with 360 surround view including Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, and the jungle on the backside of the ruins. It can be very windy on top. 

Tips for hiking Machu Picchu Mountain:

  • use a trekking pole. The risk of falling is real due to the rough stone cobbles
  • bring additional water and a little food
  • lighten your load and don't carry a backpack if possible

Inca Bridge:

  • this is the easiest hike of the 4 in the park. Keep in mind you still need to climb up the steep path and uneven stone steps from the main Machu Picchu entry gate to the upper terrace.
  • entry is located adjacent to the upper terraces
  • the hike to see the bridge is short and easy and mostly flat. About 30 minutes roundtrip
  • the ticket is paired with your choice of the short upper circuit 1 or the long upper circuit 2.

The decision to do one of these hikes may depend on the amount of time you have to spend in Machu Picchu. I don't recommend that you do these hikes at the expense of spending time up close and inside the citadel. If you have 2 days in Machu Picchu, adding one of these short hikes can enhance your overall experience. If you don't have the time or budget to hike the 1 day Inca Trail, these hikes can be a good faster option. 

Disclaimer: the information provided is subject to change. I suggest that travelers always double check their info with other sources.