In the morning we arise early and visit the central plaza of Aguas Calientes and a small local market. The surrounding mountains, blanketed in jungle, seem to seamlessly merge with the town. Spindly fingers of mist hang low at this early hour and caress the mountain sides.
We take the shuttle bus back up to Machu Picchu with Claudia and begin our full tour of this massive and awe-inspiring city. We pass through the old granaries, workshops, houses, terraces and central plaza and finally arrive at the entrance to Huayna Picchu (Wayna Picchu) Mountain- the iconic peak that dominates the background of the classic portrait of the Machu Picchu citadel.
Huayna Picchu requires a special additional permit to enter, which I did not have on my previous visit to Machu Picchu in 2014. I am so thankful to have the permit and opportunity to do Huayna Picchu this time around!
The trail up Huayna Picchu is steep and mostly made up of stone stairs culminating in several high terraces, additional ruins and a magnificent view of the citadel below. Near the peak, Claudia stops us and teaches us how to preform a K’intu, a traditional Andean spiritual ritual to thank and praise the mountain gods (Apus) with three coca leaves. After the K’intu, Claudia instructs us on how to roll coca leaves together and chew them as the locals do for extra energy and help with the altitude. We finally reach the summit and take in the breathtaking views before making our way back down.
As we descend, the mist and clouds start rolling in again and the rain clouds break just as we board the shuttle bus to take us back down to Aguas Calientes. Once in town, we have a delicious local lunch of potatoes covered in a yellow pepper sauce and fresh ceviche. We then make our way to the train station where we catch our train back to Ollantaytambo.
Our driver, Rolando, is waiting for us and warmly greets us and Claudia. The four of us pile into our comfortable van and begin our journey back through the valley and into the mountains to Cusco.
Huayna Picchu (Wayna Picchu):
Total distance: 4 km (2.48 miles)
Estimated walking time: 2-3 hours
Maximum altitude point: 2,667 m (8,750ft)
Elevation Gain: 267 m (878 ft)
Want to add these adventures to your next journey to Peru? Check out the following tours:
7-Day Luxury Lodge to Lodge Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (Huayna Picchu Included in package)
For more information on additional treks you can do from the Machu Picchu citadel, check out our blog:
Your friendly Peru specialist,