New Hikes & Trails Open in Machu Picchu
If you didn't make it to Machu Picchu in 2021, don't worry. Although it was actually a great year to travel because of reduced crowds, (we had a few visitors who had the entire joint to themselves!) the future is looking good my friends. I'm happy to report that the outlook for 2022 is full of more golden opportunities to explore the land of the Inca. If you're looking for signs of what's to come, pull up your nearest throne and let me tell you the news about the hikes reopening in Machu Picchu. You're going to love it. And I'm throwing in bonus information about how you can wander all over Machu Picchu. Kind of like the good old days. But for goodness sakes, don't tell anyone!
Although Machu Picchu has been open pretty much full time since March 2021, several hikes and trails inside the national park remained off limits as the country recovered from the covid shutdown. Even with capacity maxed out at 50%, there was never any concern about overtourism or crowding at Machu Picchu. (At least until August 2021 when all the tickets sold out!) Lots of savvy travelers had the best trip of their lives in 2021, in spite of the hassles of traveling with masks and getting negative covid tests for flights. Perhaps the only regret travelers might have, is not being able to hike to the top of Wayna Picchu or the Sungate.
It's with great pleasure that I can officially announce the hikes to Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are now reopened. And there's a new hike. Yes keep reading. Nature lovers of all ages should celebrate! But. (There's always a "but.") There has been some confusion over which hike is which! There's too many hikes and some of the names written in native lingo are befuddling travelers. I've already had people email me to ask about the difference between Huayna Picchu and Huchuy Picchu. Do not get these 2 mixed up. You will be sadly disappointed. But it's not all bad. After I clear up the confusion about the hikes, I'll share the really great news. We stumbled on something that was there all the time! We're actually kicking ourselves that we didn't tell you this before. We discovered the permits for the Inca Trail hike are the key to allowing visitors to explore the Machu Picchu citadel like they own the place! And! You don't have to do one single step of the actual hike on the permit! Unless of course you want to. Which I hope you will.
On October 5, 2021, the Peru government released tickets to hike once again on Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. You can buy these tickets yourself on the official Machu Picchu government website.
- Wayna Picchu + Circuit 4 Hike will reopen 4 groups of 50, with a maximum of 200 people per day. After the hike, visitors will exit the park. (This hike can be seen on the internet spelled as Huayna Picchu which is the correct spelling. The spelling was changed to Wayna because gringos kept misspelling and mispronouncing it)
- Machu Picchu Mountain + Circuit 3 Hike will welcome 400 people per day in 2 time slots followed by access to the citadel circuit 3 (short, low route)
- NOTE: these hikes have specific 1 hour entry windows and limited access to the llaqta (the heart of the ancient city) What if you want to do the hike and tour the city? Keep reading. I have a plan for you!
New hikes in Peru include:
- Huchuypicchu Montana + Circuit 4 - (small mountain near Wayna Picchu inside Machu Picchu National Park) opening for 9 groups of 22 people per day every hour from 6AM to 1400.. After the hike, visitors will exit the park. Buy this ticket on the official Machu Picchu government website. Entry is at the same kiosk as the entrance for Wayna Picchu. Could they have made it any more confusing? Better not ask.
- NEW Route 4 Inca Trail Hike - 4 days of hiking and camping at lower altitude than the Classic 4-Day Inca Trail hike. Permits must be reserved through a licensed tour operator. (Contact our US Office to make a reservation)
When will new trails and hikes at Machu Picchu open in 2022?
The old hikes to Wayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain, with the new Huchuypicchu Montana are open now through the end of 2021. Usually the Peru govverment releases tickets for the next year late in December. Inca Trail permits for 2022 were released on time in October 2021, so we're hopeful that it means they will release tickets for 2022 Machu Picchu hikes in December. We're booking Inca Trail hikes now. Remember the Inca Trail is closed every year in February which is the peak of the rainy season.
What's this news about wandering all over Machu Picchu?
Since UNESCO called out Peru (was it 2016?) for allowing Machu Picchu to get hammered by excessive tourism, the Peruvian government has been whittling away at all the willy-nilly roving that visitors were once able to do at Machu Picchu. With just one entry ticket, you could enter and exit as much as you wanted in the same day. You could go to the bathroom as many times as you liked. You could walk in any direction and on any path. It was glorious! I kind of miss the bottlenecks of people standing behind someone creeping slowly up the steep steps that led to the guard shack. All the people at the back of the line would watch the slow person lift a foot into the air, pause, breath, and in slow motion, move the foot forward then drop to the ground and rest for about 5 minutes before they could lift the next foot. But it wasn't all bad. It was actually amazing to sit on the protuberances on the uppper terraces. I took a group of teens there in 2007 and we sat in silence just trying to soak it all up. Which is like practically impossible!
Vidal told me the Machu Picchu tickets that come with the Inca Trail permits are like Inca gold baby! Those tickets have perks. Skip-the-line-and-walk-right-in kind of bennies! You just need to know how it works. And Vidal has figured it out. The permit is for a 2-day trip including a 1-day hike on what is known as the "easy" Inca Trail. (but trust me that "easy" is relative to your level of acclimatization at 10,000 ft above sea level!) After the hike into Machu Picchu, you take the shuttle bus down to the village and sashay into your hotel for some downtime. The next morning you drink a bunch of coffee and meet up with your guide and head back up on the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ancient city itself. The magical citadel. This is where having a tour guide is like having the keys to the Inca kingdom. Vidal knows those paths like you know the way from your living room sofa to the frig. He knows when to go to certain places to avoid crowds. A few of the historical sites at Machu Picchu have restricted open times and he knows when they are. It doesn't mean he can get you in to all of them because they stagger the openings intentionally to reduce the number of visitors. But his tours are t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h! If that's what you want. If not. He's also fine with groups who want to breeze through just stopping for the "famous shots."
What if you don't want to hike? Don't worry. We can substitute 1 day Sacred Valley tour by van or even a day trip to Rainbow Mountain! If that's not adding value to your investment and your travel experience, I don't know what is. There's enough flexibility in this 2-day package for even the most persnickety traveler.
What are the "cons" for the 2 day Inca Trail permits? Well OK. If you insist on getting all the intel, the first thing to know is that permits cost more. But you have to realize it's a 2-day package trip with trains, tour guides, transfers and everything except your grub. The permits are not easy to get. You can't one-click and buy these suckers. You have to book through a tour operator who will send someone to go stand in line, pay in one place, then collect in another place. It's kind of like buying coffee where you place your order in one place but the pickup is in another place on the other side of town! Welcome to Peru!
Want more info? I could go on, but I won't. Send an email through our contact page on this website. It will come to me and Heather in Virginia. Or you can try texting me at 757-714-6649 and I'm on What's App.
What if you want to do one of the hikes in Machu Picchu and tour the heart of the citadel?
Here's what you do. Set up a 2-day trip. Trust me. you'll be thrilled with your experience. You depart Cusco or whereever you're staying in the Sacred Valley, in the morning and take the train so that you arrive in Aguas Calientes by mid-day. Just in time for a nice lunch and a cup of coffee to get you jacked up for the afternoon. (I always go to HOT SPRINGS restaurant in "downtown" Aguas Calientes. Right where the rainroad tracks meet the main street.) Take the shuttle bus up to the main entry and enter with 1300 or 1400 tickets. (you do realize you have to buy these in advance don't you? Have I not taught you anything?) Take the upper circuit by the guard shack to the landing right below the guard shack for "the famous shot." You know the one I'm talking about. Take your shots then keep going. Enter the main gate of the city and follow the circuit to the end. I could take you at least 2 hours if you linger appropriately. You exit and take the bus to the village to spend the night in the hotel of your choice. The next morning you take the bus back up to Machu Picchu and enter to do the hike of your choice. These hikes have a 1 hour to checkin from the time you can enter Machu Picchu until the time the checkpoint for the hike closes. This is bonus time to explore the lower circuit depending on which hike you choose. After the hike, you will be directed to the circuit that is included in your hike (either 3 or 4) which will lead to the exit. Return to the village and you should have plenty of time to grab lunch before you board an afternoon train and return to your hotel wherever it is.
This should give you lots of choices now. A trip to Machu Picchu is much more than you think it is. There are so many ways to do it.
Qechua Word and Peruvian Place Name Tutorial:
- Machu Picchu - old mountain
- Huayna Picchu - little mountain
- Wayna Picchu - gringo abomination for little mountain
- Huchuy Picchu -
- Winay Wayna