Wayna Picchu Exploration: A Complete Guide

Sooo… What is Wayna Picchu?

If you look at the official Peruvian site to buy tickets to Machu Picchu, it might get a little confusing as to what exactly is Wayna Picchu and why it’s in a different category than “montaña,” which means ‘mountain’ in Spanish. While I did go over the differences in my post on ‘How to get to Machu Picchu,’ let me re-iterate that it is a mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu. There are two mountains, ‘Machu Picchu Mountain’ and ‘Wayna Picchu Mountain,’ both of which require additional tickets to enter (besides the basic Machu Picchu ticket). It should also be noted that you are not allowed to enter both mountains on the same day. If you want to visit both, you should buy tickets on separate days and they ONLY come as a bundle ticket with the basic Machu Picchu entrance.

That is Wayna Picchu in the back.
That is Wayna Picchu in the back and on the right.

Should I Visit Wayna Picchu?

I would not be making a post about it if I thought it should be skipped. In case I am not being obvious enough….OMG you totally gotta go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you don’t climb this mountain, it will be the single greatest mistake of your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, enough with the drama. Seriously though, it is quite an incredible place. Just look at the pictures and judge for yourself.

Okay, You Convinced Me, Tell Me More!

For starters, the entrance is behind these buildings:

Wayna Picchu entrance

The View is Amazing:

The single biggest reason why you should visit Wayna Picchu is the view:

You can clearly see the massive city, and the road where the buses drive up the mountain.
You can clearly see the massive city, and the road where the buses drive up the mountain.

From here, you can see that Machu Picchu is actually in the shape of a bird called a condor. This is significant if you understand the indigenous beliefs of the Quechua people (the Inca’s people) from 500 years ago. They state that there are three worlds: The world of humans (on earth), the world of the dead (below), and the world of the gods (in the sky). Machu Picchu was built as a monastery to the gods and every aspect of the city was designed to represent that, including the shape. From several spots on the climb up to Wayna Picchu, you can see the true grandeur of the city below.

Join the Exclusive Club:

Entrance to Machu Picchu as of two years ago, is limited to 2500 people per day. This puts you in an exclusive club of people who have been lucky enough to see the spectacle. Wayna Picchu is limited to 400 people per day, putting you in an even more exclusive club. Only 200 people at a time (morning/afternoon) are allowed to scale this wonderful mountain because of a number of concerns (explained below).

The Cultural Significance:

Due to a lack of a water source, it is known that no one lived on Wayna Picchu. It was used as a place for religious pilgrimages and offerings. I have to wonder that if Machu Picchu was already a place where only the best of the best were allowed, who went up the mountain? It is also incredible that structures were built so high up almost 600 years ago.

These terraces were actually found in 2011, downhill from the city. They can only be viewed from Wayna Picchu.
These terraces were actually found in 2011, downhill from the city. They can only be viewed from Wayna Picchu.
The sacred river runs the length of the Inka Trail from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu.
The sacred river runs the length of the Inka Trail from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu.

 

Is the Cave Worth It?

Yes, no, and Yes…let me explain! After you reach the peak of Wayna Picchu, there is an option to continue another hour to the cavern of the mountain. Very few people (I would estimate, about 50 of the 400) even bother to go because it is downhill, but in the wrong direction (away from Machu Picchu). When I got there, I thought, “I don’t want to go home and regret that I was being too lazy to visit the cave,” so I said ‘let’s go for it.’ The ruins consist of a single structure outside the cave:

And a few small doors inside the cave:

After taking a small break, we decided to head back. We didn’t realize that we had climbed almost entirely downhill, and at a much steeper pace than the climb up. This made it so that the entire way back was almost completely uphill. I ran out of water, which made it very difficult to hike. After we got back, I kept telling my friend Sarah that it was a terrible decision to see that stupid cave!

However, now, a few weeks later, I am glad I did it. If you are well prepared with plenty of water, and are aware that it is 4 hours round trip of up, down, and back up, you will be fine.

The Adrenaline!

First, it is very narrow at some points, including a tight tunnel you must go through if you are to reach the top. Some claustrophobic people turned around at this point and called it a day.

Second, it is slippery! There are a number of accidents every year, which includes anything from people falling over, broken legs, or dehydration. The manpower doesn’t exist to cope with so many potential problems as Machu Picchu is still widely isolated from the rest of Peru.

Finally, look at these crazy steps:

Who thought THAT was a good idea. I went up and I only saw one other guy attempt it.

You Can Make Silly Poses

You know you want to…. don’t act too cool by not making a silly face in front of this world wonder. Wayna Picchu doesn’t get as many visitors making it the perfect place to do all of those silly posses you were thinking of with enough time to get it ‘just right.’

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It is a Good Work-Out

Like I said, up, down, and up again. If you have been spending your time in Peru devouring that delicious ‘lomo saltado’ or had more ‘ceviche’ and ‘cuy’ than you care to recall, it is time for a little work out. Many places even have cables to help you with the often steep steps.

 

I hope you are now convinced that Wayna Picchu is not to be missed :).

 

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Julio Moreno

Julio is a California native who has lived abroad since 2009 as an expat in South Korea and New Zealand. He is especially passionate about experiencing other cultures and visiting as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible.
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