Climbing Machu Picchu Mountain
Travel Consultant Lina Fuller shares her experience of climbing Machu Picchu Mountain and gives you some top tips to make the most out of your experience.
I was so excited that I woke up at 5am to start my visit to Machu Picchu. The disappointment came when I went to catch the bus: I arrived and found that I was not to be the first in line, but instead what greeted me was a very long queue of people all there for the same purpose. It took over 40 minutes to get on a bus that took me up to Machu Picchu.
When I arrived at the ruins, just before 7am, the sun was just starting to touch the mountains and the ruins were just waking up. I found a quiet spot where I could admire the view away from the groups that started moving around the most important spots. I have been here many times before and thankfully the magic is still there; the location of the ruins surrounded by the snowy peaks is just stunning and as I sat there admiring the site, I imagined how it must have been during Inca times.
Sadly time went too quickly and before I knew it I had to dash to see the citadel from a different perspective: from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. I started following the signs to the warden’s hut, a wooden kiosk where you have to present your ticket, passport and sign a check-in book. It is just a formality - they are making sure that everybody who enters will leave.
I started walking up the mountain; the trail is wide at the beginning and follows a unique path of Inca stone stairs. There is no way to get lost, there are no diversions, no side trails, just one way up and one way down. As you walk along the trail, there are a couple of viewpoints where you can take yet more photos of Machu Picchu, but in reality it’s an excuse to catch your breath as you feel the lack of oxygen. The more I walked, the narrower the path became: the steps become steeper and the walk becomes more challenging. Some parts closer to the summit have very big drops down the side and the steps become quite narrow - it is definitely not for the faint-hearted or for those who suffer from vertigo.
It is a tiring and challenging walk especially for those who are not trained for walking at high altitude. I was very proud of myself when I made it to the top. It wasn’t easy but every step was worth it as the views from the top are breathtaking, the mountains around are stunning and the view down to Machu Picchu is just magical. Huayna Picchu in the background looks tiny and the view gives a unique perspective of this amazing archaeological site – you can’t help but admire those who built it. Such a perfect city!
A couple of tips before climbing Machu Picchu Mountain:
There are two time slots to enter Machu Picchu Mountain: from 7am to 9am and from 9am to 11am. Some people prefer the earlier slot to avoid crowds, but personally, I prefer the second one because I don’t like to have people walking up when I am heading down. The walk down is normally more challenging and you have to pay close attention to every step, especially when you are walking on the top and narrower parts of the trail.
Make use of the toilets before you start heading to the entrance of the trail as there are no toilet facilities inside the ruins. Leave any unwanted items at the storage room by the entrance of the ruins; the lighter you travel, the better.
Bring plenty of water, a hat, sun cream, shades and bring some snacks - a banana or a couple of chocolate bars will give you energy. Remember to take your rubbish away with you. Plus make sure that your camera and phones are fully charged; you don’t want to run out of memory space or battery when you are on the top.
And finally take it easy: breathe deeply and slow down, take your time but most importantly, enjoy every moment. It is an experience that’s worth every step!