On the train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, thinking about my upcoming climb up the picture-postcard peak of nearby citadel Huayna Picchu, known as “the young mountain,” I realized I'd left my hiking shoes behind! But I'd traveled great distances to climb Machu Picchu’s highest peak, so even a lack of proper footgear wasn't going to stop me. Perhaps I would be the first person to hike this majestic peak in Hugo Boss loafers - maybe I could get Hugo to pay me for bringing his brand to the top of an ancient civilization?
Huayna Picchu from sacred Machu Pichhu
Think Machu Picchu and the most recognizable photo is the what is said to be a face on Huayna Picchu Mountain. If one looks closely at the mountain you can see a face with its ears and eyes as it looks over the Machu Picchu citadel. Bringing back photographs of Machu Picchu from the highest vantage point over of 9,000 feet above sea level with sweeping 360 views of the Andes and amazing views of the ruins below and you get the idea that this Inca civilization was strategically places.
Somewhere over the rainbow
If you like to hike and take photos from all angles, and to truly experience the real Machu Picchu, the two to three hour climb each way is well worth the hike. This is the chance of a lifetime to see the ancient Inca world from high above the clouds. Due to restrictions, to control the crowds only 400 people a day are allowed the chance to climb to climb to the summit of this majestic peak. Come early, or perhaps you will be left out. Remember, you are not the only one who traveled from throughout the world to make this journey.
Stairway to Heaven
When you enter the site of Machu Picchu in Peru, your journey starts on the side opposite of Huayna Picchu. As you pass the Caretaker’s House and the Funerary Rock, you will want to take some time out to study the impressive Temple of the Sun. As you walk through the village, there will be green grass open spaces, steps to climb, windows, doorjambs and more of the maze like citadel.
The view from above
The gate leading to the trail to Huayna Picchu opens at 7a.m. and closes at 1p.m. The early bird catches the worm or in this case the earlier you arrive the less crowded your journey will be. In the high season months of American and European summer, June through August in excess of 3,000 other visitors will join you in Inca paradise. Also the earlier you trek, the better views before the clouds drape the citadel. The clouds can arrive as 9a.m. Whether you get a guide or not is entirely up to your form of travel. Sometimes having a guide to point out sights and references is not a bad idea. Guides can be find near the entrance gate in the early morning hours.
Life in the clouds
Most people find the hike not extremely strenuous. I witnessed people with asthma make the trek to the summit claiming that if you take it slow at your own pace, that anyone can handle the sometimes precarious hike. Be especially careful as the trail can be wet. Most of the trail is a simple climb up steps. There are also rope hand rails to assist you in navigating more difficult parts of the trail. People of all ages can be seen trekking to the summit or to at least part way up the mountain. It does help to be in decent shape and unlike me, be prepared, wear hiking boots as the correct footwear should make the climb not too. There is a narrow cave that requires a bit of crouching and crawling, and some more difficult climbing as you reach for the summit, but all in all this this is not as difficult as other worldly climbs.
There are some breathtaking drop-off views along the route, but none compare to the panoramic scenes from the top. A photographers dream trip indeed. And please, be sure to bringing your hiking boots and proper trekking gear. Dress warm as it can get cold at the summit. You will amazed at the views looking down at Machu Picchu through the clouds.
It's a long way to the top
About the Author: Nick Kontis
Nick Kontis started out as a world traveler at an early age traveling back and forth between California to Greece every summer. But it was a back packing trip around the world at age 24 that proved to be a life changing experience. After traveling by car, train, , plane, bike and, boat around the world, it would be this trip of a lifetime that would lead to a life as a travel entrepreneur and world traveler. Nick has been on both radio and television. Featured on Arthur Frommer’s television show, and referred by Lonely Planet writers. Frequently mentioned as the “father of around the world airfares” Arthur Frommer once said, “If Jules Verne were alive today he would use Nick to go around the world in 80 days.” Nick and his various travel companies have sent over 10,000 people taking their dream trip through airfare discounts of as much as 50% off the airlines published fares. Now Nick promotes travel through his World Travel List and ‘Trip Rambler’ by World Travel List. Having traveled to over 80 countries Nick hopes to inspire others to travel the world.