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Huayna Picchu (also called Wayna Picchu) is that tall mountain you see in the background of Machu Picchu photos. If you’re planning a visit to Machu Picchu, you can hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, but there a few things you need to know before you go.
For years, the Peruvian government has been implementing measures to preserve Machu Picchu and in 2019, the rules changed once again. I had trouble finding accurate information about visiting Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu in the same day so I hope that this information helps those planning a trip.
The Huayna Picchu hike is not a long hike, but it’s very steep and requires a decent level of fitness. I suggest putting in some time on an elliptical at a high resistance level or on a step machine. It was so worth it, though, and the views were incredible. If you’re afraid of heights, I’d probably skip this.
I’ll go over our itinerary and some details you need to know, but first, I’ll explain how we booked and how you may be able to save money.
Fly to Peru for $95
First of all, you can earn enough points for a free roundtrip flight to Peru with just one credit card welcome bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. At the very least, those points are worth $1250 if you redeem via the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal, but you’ll probably be able to redeem less than 100,000 points if you learn how to utilize Chase’s airline transfer partners. See this post about Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners for more information.
Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. To earn the 100,000 points, you must spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months. If you’re worried about that, here are some ideas to help meet the minimum spending requirements.
My post about saving big on our trip to Argentina and Peru has more info about how we booked our flights and hotels with miles and points.
Save money on your day at Machu Picchu
You can save money by booking your admission tickets and your train tickets on your own.
Ryan, Lexie, Chris, and I knew we wanted to do the Huayna Picchu hike, so I emailed the Tambo del Inka concierge right after we booked our rooms to ask about it. They referred me to their partner tour company, Venturia. Tambo del Inka contracts with Venturia for all things Machu Picchu. They have a good reputation, but you’re going to pay a pretty penny for anything they organize.
This is the response I received:
“Thank you for the information, HuaynaPicchu is one of the mountains that stands next to Machu Picchu ruins and has amazing views from above. This hike takes 45 minutes to the top and 45 minutes back down. Allow for time to take lots of photos, because the views are incredible.
The Huayna Picchu Mountain is the one that you see behind Machu Picchu on any postcard; its Incan paths hidden alongside the mountain, it may frighten those of you who have a fear of heights. For those of you who struggle with heights you may need to know that you will be steps away from hundred foot plummets into an abyss, and in some places the path can be very steep and narrow. There are times when you need to use security cables to support yourself; it is a challenge for anyone. If you suffer from vertigo or you have a hard time controlling your fear of heights we would recommend taking a different route.
Regarding the tour Machupicchu + Huaynapicchu, we can offer you the following itinerary, considering different train schedules due to the time spent at the mountain.
*Note: Prices based on a group of 4 people.
Tour MachuPicchu + HuaynaPicchu :
VISTADOME 601: Departs from Tambo del Inka train station 06:50 hrs., arrives to Aguas Calientes train station 09:24 hrs.
VISTADOME 32: Departs from Aguas Calientes train station 16:43 hrs., arrives to Ollantaytambo train station at 18:10 hrs.
Activity itinerary and description:·
- 06:20 Meeting at the Tambo del Inka Lobby and short walk to the train station
- 06:50 Departure to Aguas Calientes.
- 09:30 Arrival at Aguas Calientes train station and meet with your guide.
- 09:40 Bus Transfer to Machu Picchu.
- 10:20 Visit Machu Picchu + Huaynapicchu Mountain.
- 14:00 Lunch at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.
- 15:30 Transfer to Aguas Calientes.
- 16:43 Departure from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
- 18:10 Arrival at Ollantaytambo and transfer to the Resort.
- Train tickets (round trip) Vistadome 601 – Vistadome 32.
- Bus tickets (round trip).
- Machu Picchu + Huaynapicchu entrances.
- Official English-speaking guide.
- Private transport from Ollantaytambo to our Resort
Price per person US$. 498.00
It is recommendable to make the reservations in advance due to there are limited tickets as the space is limited to only 400 people per day in two different groups for Huaynapicchu, and the prices for the train tickets are changing every day.“
I know Machu Picchu is not cheap to visit. But I thought nearly $500 per person seemed a bit much
Plus, we would not have had much time to tour Machu Picchu with the schedule they proposed. So we looked into the price of everything included in this list and this is what we found:
- Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu tickets on Viator for $81
- Vistadome 601 ticket from PeruRail: $105
- Vistadome 32 ticket from PeruRail: $105
- Bus ticket: $24
Other expenses would be a taxi from Ollantaytambo back to our hotel (~$20 total) and an English speaking guide* ($120-$180 total). So about $200 split between 4 people. That brings the total to about $365 per person, which I know is not an insignificant amount, but it’s better than $500!
*It is mandatory that you enter with a licensed guide, although this policy doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced. There are lots of guides waiting at the entrance that you can hire on the day of your tour, but I suggest booking a guide ahead of time. This way, you can be certain that you have someone who speaks English (or other preferred language).
We booked our Huayna Picchu/Machu Picchu tickets on Viator and our train tickets on Perurail.com. We kind of modified the timeline to give ourselves more time at Machu Picchu, then we reached out to a different tour company to book a guide. After confirming with the tour company that our itinerary would work, we booked the guide and bus tickets with them. The bus tickets were slightly more than $24, but I’ll explain why I suggest booking bus tickets via a guide and not on your own in a moment.
I’ll discuss our schedule for the day, but first, there are some important things to know if you’re trying to book tickets the way that we did.
Admission tickets to Machu Picchu
First of all, if you want to hike Huayna Picchu, you will need to purchase a specific type of Machu Picchu ticket. Only 400 people per day are allowed to hike Huayna Picchu, so as you would expect, tickets go quickly. We purchased ours months in advance. Once 400 tickets for any given date are sold, there is no way to get a ticket for that date. Book as early as possible. Machu Picchu also limits visitors, so even if you aren’t planning to hike Huayna Picchu, keep in mind that you need to purchase tickets in advance if possible.
We bought our Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu tickets on Viator for $81. This is about $20 more than a Machu Picchu ticket.
You can check Huayna Picchu ticket availability here.
For Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu tickets, there are 3 options:
- Machu Picchu Entrance at 6am with Huayna Picchu hike entrance slot 7:00-8:00 (100 tickets per day)
- Machu Picchu Entrance at 7am with Huayna Picchu hike entrance slot 7:00-8:00 (100 tickets per day)
- Machu Picchu Entrance at 8am with Huayna Picchu hike entrance slot 10:00-11:00 (200 tickets per day)
There are two time slots for the Huayna Picchu hike. The first is 7-8am. The second is at 10-11am, which is the one we did.
So this is how it works:
- You can enter Machu Picchu any time after the designated MP entrance time. To be clear, you have to enter Machu Picchu to get to the Huayna Picchu Entrance.
- You can start your Huayna Picchu hike any time during your time slot. If you have a 7-8 ticket, you have to begin the hike before 8. If you have a 10-11 ticket, you have to begin before 11.
- All visitors are expected to exit Huayna Picchu by 1pm.
This is why we were confused:
According to everything we read, you cannot re-enter Machu Picchu once you leave. This is a potential problem because when you exit Huayna Picchu, you exit Machu Picchu.
We wanted to hike Huayna Picchu and then tour Machu Picchu afterwards. But all of the info we found led us to believe we needed to tour Machu Picchu before, since the Huayna Picchu hike would force us to exit.
Since our ticket allowed us entrance at 8am to Machu Picchu, we started thinking maybe we needed to take an earlier train so that we could do Machu Picchu first. We emailed the tour guide company and they assured us that we would indeed be allowed to tour Machu Picchu after the hike.
What we learned is that when you buy a Huayna Picchu ticket, you are allowed 1 re-entrance to Machu Picchu. This means that you can visit Machu Picchu after Huayna Picchu.
Train Tickets to Machu Picchu
It is recommended that you purchase your train tickets in advance. We purchased our tickets online from Peru Rail, the company that operates the train at Urubamba. Peru Rail emailed a confirmation number and instructed us to present the confirmation number, our passports, and the credit card we used to any Peru Rail office to pick up our physical tickets. We picked ours up the day before our Machu Picchu tour.
There is an office at the Urubamba station, which is less than a 5 minute walk from the Tambo del Inka lobby. Prices vary depending on dates and train types. Ours were $105 each way.
Having the train station right outside of the hotel is quite the luxury. The problem is, Urubamba does not have as many options as other stations. If you’re trying to get to Machu Picchu earlier, you can depart from Ollantaytambo to catch another train. Ollantaytambo is about 25 minutes away by taxi and there are a lot more options.
These are the only 2 options from Urubamba and neither departure time worked for the trip back:
So we booked a train that arrived at Ollantaytambo and planned to take a taxi back to the hotel. This ended up working out well because there was a great restaurant at the Ollantaytambo station where we ate dinner.
Things to to know before you visit Machu Piccu:
- If you have a Machu Picchu ticket, you must exit at least 4 hours after entering
- If you have a Huayna Picchu ticket, you have a total of 6 hours from your first entrance. But remember, you can re-enter 1 time if you have a Huayna Picchu ticket.
- There are no bathrooms inside the gates. You must exit to go to the bathroom. It is highly recommended that you go before entering (and again before re- entering if you have a Huayna Picchu ticket)
- Backpacks have a size limit (15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches) which is smaller than typical backpacks that travelers use. I’m a rule follower so I bought a cheap one on Amazon, but they did not measure ours. Worst case scenario, there are storage lockers on site, though.
- Bags are subject to search but ours were not searched which brings me to the next point…
- Single use water bottles are prohibited, so we brought some reusable bottles, but we saw so many people with single use bottles. I’m not sure if they’re always that lax about it, so you may want to bring a reusable water bottle just in case.
- For years, it has been a requirement that you enter Machu Picchu with a guide, though they haven’t really enforced it. This year, it was said that this policy was being enforced, though I’m still not sure that’s true. We did have a guide, and I do suggest getting one so that you can learn about and understand everything.
- You must have your passport and your passport name has to match the name on your ticket
- Use bug spay. And wear pants and/or long sleeves if possible. There are some sort of insects that bite, although they are not poisonous or disease carriers.
Our Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu timeline
- 05:30 Breakfast at the hotel
- 06:20 Boarding begins for Vistadome train from Urubamba
- 06:50 Train departs to Aguas Calientes.
- 09:30 Arrival at Aguas Calientes train station
- 09:45 Bus transfer to Machu Picchu entrance
- 10:30 Enter Machu Picchu, head straight to Huaynapicchu Mountain for hike
- 13:00 Exit Huayna Picchu, meet guide again, grab snacks and drinks
- 13:30 Re-enter Machu Picchu with our guide
- 15:45 Leave Machu Picchu and board bus for Aguas Calientes train station
- 16:20 Board train
- 16:43 Train departs to Ollantaytambo
- 18:10 Arrival at Ollantaytambo train station where we had dinner and then caught a taxi back to Tambo del Inka
Vistadome to Aguas Calientes
After eating breakfast, we walked to the train station to catch the 6:20 Vistadome to Aguas Calientes.
The Peru Rail Vistadome train ride from Urubamba to Aguas Calientes takes almost 3 hours. There was one stop. Until we stopped in Ollantaytambo, there were only a few people in our train car.
The views were stunning.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes at 9:30am. We met a representative from our tour guide’s company at the train station and she walked us to the buses. The buses are just across the street from the train station.
This is why I suggest booking your bus tickets through the tour guide company: the bus line was long. We didn’t ask questions but the tour company representative got us to the front of the line. She explained that our English speaking guide would meet us at the entrance of Machu Picchu and sent us on our way.
After a 30 minute bus ride we were finally at the entrance to Machu Picchu!
Our guide was waiting at the entrance of Machu Picchu. He could not accompany us on the Huayna Picchu hike, but he showed us exactly where to go and where to meet him afterwards for the Machu Picchu tour.
We entered Machu Picchu around 10:30 and headed straight to the entrance for the Huayna Picchu hike. Depending on the crowd and how easily you can pass those touring Machu Picchu, it takes about 10-20 minutes to get from the MP entrance gate to the entrance of Huayna Picchu.
After signing in, we made our way up the mountain.
It took about an hour to get all the way to the top. It’s not a super long hike, but it’s steep and narrow. It was 100% worth it and we are so glad we did it. Pictures cannot do it justice, but the views were unreal.
We finished Huayna Picchu right at 1pm. Everyone must sign out. This is how they confirm that everyone has exited.
We headed back to the spot where we were to meet our guide.
We had time to grab drinks and eat a few snacks before re-entering for the Machu Picchu tour.
We exited Machu Picchu around 3:45pm, boarded a bus, and returned to the Aguas Calientes train station to catch our train to Ollantaytambo. We certainly earned our drinks for the day!
Getting back to Tambo del Inka from Machu Picchu
The Vistadome had snacks and drinks available for purchase.
This was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. In Incan tradition, Supay is the god of death. After the Spanish Conquest, “Supay” became associated with the devil. The way it was explained to us is that Supay is a satirical version of the devil.
There was a restaurant at the Ollantaytambo train station called El Albergue. Instead of returning to Urubamba to eat, we decided try El Albergue. The food and drinks were great and the prices were very reasonable. Ollantaytambo has several other restaurant options near the train station, but we went with this one because it was closest.
After dinner, our waitress arranged a taxi to take us back to Tambo del Inka. It was only ~$20.
Stay at one of the best hotels for almost nothing
We loved our stay at Tambo del Inka (a Luxury Collection Resort) in the Sacred Valley. I had read about Tambo del Inka in various articles and travel magazines so I had some pretty high expectations for this hotel and I was still blown away. This is definitely one of my top 5 hotels. This is a Marriott property so you can use Marriott Bonvoy points to book free nights.
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points with Marriott co-branded cards from Chase or Amex, though I suggest Chase due to the 5/24 rule.
Tip: You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott, but the ratio is not ideal. Due to Marriott’s inflated chart, it’s usually not a good value. There is another way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for Marriott stays, though. You can read more about using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book Marriott properties here.
You can earn enough points for multiple free nights when you open just one credit card and meet the minimum spending requirement for the welcome bonus. Rates for our dates were ~$470, so that’s a great way to redeem the bonus! If your spouse or partner also signs up, you have enough for 5 nights!
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase
Current offer: Earn 3 Free Nights (3 certificates, each redeemable for one night requiring 50,000 points or less) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Also, earn a total of 10 points per dollar on up to $2500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores in the first 6 months of opening the card.
Annual fee: $95. The bonus and benefits are worth a lot more than that.
Free night benefit: In addition to the nice welcome offer, you will receive a free night at each anniversary. Starting at your first anniversary of card membership, receive a free night certificate redeemable for one night worth up to 35,000 points (This benefit kicks in at your first anniversary of card membership, not when you open the card).
Though the annual fee is $95, the annual free night can be valuable. We actually used a certificate to book the Tambo del Inka property. This is a great value because the average rate on our dates was over $400 per night. So even if we receive no other benefits out of having this card, think of it like this: we booked a $400 room for $95. Update: Unfortunately, Tambo del Inka is now in a higher category. But the free night certificate can still be extremely valuable at other qualifying properties.
Silver status: This card also gives the cardholder automatic Marriott silver status, which is… meh. But I thought I would mention it in case anyone cares. If you spend $35,000 per year you’ll receive gold status.
Fast tack to elite status: Receive 15 Elite night credits each calendar year
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