Mystical and practical secrets for visiting Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, Peru

Story by staff writer Lisa A. White. Photos Copyright © Lisa A. White.

Latest in a series about her travels in Peru by staff writer Lisa A. White

WE ROLLED OUT OF BED at an alarming 4:00 a.m. Our train, a twenty-minute walk from Casa de Wow in Ollantaytambo, was to leave at 5:30 a.m. to reach Aguas Caliente about an hour later. We had to catch that train to catch a bus up to Machu Picchu in time to reach the gate to Huayna Picchu for the 7:00-8:00 a.m. entry.

A view of Machu Picchu from about one third of the way up Huayna Picchu.

A view of Machu Picchu from about one-third of the way up Huayna Picchu

It all had to work like clockwork or our plans would be shot. Train. Check. Bus. Check. We made it through the gates at Machu Picchu. Check. But wait! Look at all of these great photo ops. Dan rushed me on toward the gates of Huayna Picchu.

If you don’t arrive at the gate to Huayna Picchu during your entry time (either 7am-8am or 10am-11am), plan to walk away. They simply say no. Pretty harsh. But we made it!

This way up!

This way up!

Tickets to Huayna Picchu are limited. While approximately 2,000 people per day are allowed into Machu Picchu, only 200 per day are allowed to hike to Huayna Picchu. It is also not for the faint of heart. If you aren’t interested or able to climb a lot of steps, or if you are seriously afraid of heights, consider spending your entire day at Machu Picchu. But . . . if you can’t pass up a challenge, buy your tickets early and pace yourself.

Machu Picchu ruins with the dark Huayna Picchu mountain.

Machu Picchu ruins with the
dark Huayna Picchu mountain

Do you feel like you are on the tippy-top of the world? Yes! And do you feel like you might fall off? Absolutely. This place has nothing resembling a guardrail. Hold tight.

Primitive. Mystical. Steep. Amazing. Lush. Beyond scenic. Challenging. Rewarding. Baffling. How did they do that??? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. A word of warning: coming down is scarier than going up, but by then, you are invincible.

The view from the top of Huayna Picchu.

The view from the top of Huayna Picchu

Once we’d climbed, hiked, crawled and scampered back down to Machu Picchu, we were ready to sit back, relax and seriously enjoy the beauty of the ruins. Before going, we bought the Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour by Ruth M. Wright and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra. We sat eating bananas, contemplating what we already knew as we rested.

Details you'll see at Machu Picchu.

Details you’ll see at Machu Picchu

By the way, the official word is that you can’t bring snacks. Do it anyway—just leave no trash behind. Take plenty of water and lots of layers. You’ll be hot. You’ll be cold.

After relaxing for a bit, along with some of our earlier hiking associates we decided to get a guide to learn more about this lost community. The group dynamic made the guide’s stories extra fun. We’d definitely recommend getting a guide for more insight into the mountain. The guides are trained, knowledgeable and well worth the cost. Besides, how else will you learn to do the condor dance?

In the shadows.

In the shadows

Machu Picchu may be one of those “once in a lifetime adventures”—but it will also stay on my list of places to return to for another look and another adventure. It’s quite an effort to get there, but don’t let that dissuade you!


Beer in Brussels

Lisa drinking beer in Brussels

Lisa White loves wandering through the world and life without a perfectly planned path. In all pursuits—whether personal or professional—she always has more to explore, more to learn, and more to do. She practices law in Tennessee with Greg Coleman Law PC, working primarily on class action lawsuits. When major corporations refuse to “do the right thing” for consumers, plaintiff firms like GCL step in. Whether for work or for fun, when Lisa catches a flight somewhere—anywhere—she makes plans to celebrate the good, positive, beautiful, tasty, and fun of the world.


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