When visiting Machu Picchu you won’t be able to miss Huayna Picchu. Huayna Picchu, a mountain range in the Cusco region of Peru looms over Machu Picchu and has become a pivotal trail for hikers and adventure seekers alike.
Huayna Picchu stands at 2,693 meters, or 8,835 ft above sea level and towers over the lost city of Incas, being about 260 meters, or 850 ft higher than Machu Picchu. The Incas built a trail climbing up the side of the Huayna Picchu. With terraces and temples adorning the top of Huayna Picchu, where it is rumored the high priest and local virgins resided.
Machu Picchu is home to three Incan temples. The Temple of the Moon is situated on the North side of Huayna Picchu 390 meters 1,280 ft below the summit of Huayna Picchu. Made up of stone and an open-faced, shallow cave, the Temple of the Moon holds a stone throne in the center, with a nearby staircase that leads deeper into the cave. Based on structural research, the Temple of the Moon dates back to 1500, yet was just rediscovered in 1936.
The hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, though difficult, is astounding. Having been referred to as one of the “most dangerous hikes in the world”, it is not for the faint of heart, or inexperienced hikers. The hike up Huayna Picchu is regulated and only allows for 400 pre-registered visitors each day.
When hiking up the Huayna Picchu you will encounter the Stairs of Death. This stretch of 183 meters contains uneven, and extremely steep stone steps. At the end of this stretch of stairs you will reach the Temple of the Moon near the peak of Huayna Picchu. Walking up the 183 meters of rock steps, all of which were built by ancient Incans more than 600 years ago, you will have the comfort of a damp stone wall on one side, and a fall of hundreds of meters towards the ominous Urubamba River on the other side. The Stairs of Death have made a name for themselves of being the most intimidating and dangerous part of the climb up Huayna Picchu, but despite its name, there have been no recorded deaths on the Stairs of Death.
The trek up Huayna Picchu is difficult, the altitude alone can cause nauseating affects in the form of altitude sickness, and the steep, slippery rock steps can make even the most sure-footed individual doubt their next move. Regardless of the looming risk of taking on the Huayna Picchu hike, this trek has made its name as one of the most popular hikes in the world. As you climb you’ll be presented with some of the most breathtaking views of the nature and architecture around you. Not only is the mountain itself something to behold, but you will also stumble upon a surreal view of the lost city as you climb to the summit – a view only shared by the few people who choose to undertake this trek.