“The last time I climbed Wayna Picchu, I cried at the top because I didn’t want to hike all the way back down,” my friend calmly told me before we tackled the mountain. At the time I thought nothing of it, that maybe she was exaggerating just a little bit. Little did I know that only a short while later, I’d be sitting on my bum making my way down the narrow steps, anxious to get back to the base of the mountain.
Wayna Picchu is the mountain seen in the background of the iconic Machu Picchu ruins, which were built by the Incas hundreds of years ago. Each day, the trail is open to 400 visitors, split into two entry groups, one at 8:00 a.m. and the other at 10:00 a.m. If this hike is something you plan to do, be sure to buy your ticket in advance. Tickets can be purchased online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe.
Many people seem to head out on this hike completely unprepared – flip flops, skirts, we saw it all! Make sure to wear clothes that are comfortable and easy to move around in.
I literally huffed and puffed my way to the top of Wayna Picchu, it definitely wasn’t a pretty sight. My heart was pounding in my chest the entire way. The altitude, heat and sheer incline of the hike had turned my legs into jelly.
We slowly made our way up the narrow steps, carved into the mountain hundreds of years earlier. We set out shortly after eight a.m. and close to an hour later had made our way to the top. And boy, was it worth it!
I was filled with relief by the time we’d made it to the view point. Despite the breathtaking view, I was more than happy to make my way down, so that I could finally catch my breath again.
Once you reach the top, there’s nothing more than a sheer drop and open space. Numerous hikers sit on the large rocks, jostling for space. We quickly took a few photos, perched on the top. My heart was in my throat and all I could think was, “get me off this mountain!” A number of people chose to take the not- so-safe route down, which involved sliding down the sheer rock-face. One wrong move and they would have gone flying right over the edge!
The nerves kicked into over-drive when it was time to head back. For the first few minutes, I sat down and scooched my way down the steps on my bum. Unconcerned about slowing people down, I just wanted to make it back in one piece. Completing the hike was a huge accomplishment – although it’s a challenge I’m not so sure I’d take on again…
The rest of the day was spent exploring the awe-inspiring ruins and capped off with a well deserved Pisco Sour at the beautiful SUMAQ Hotel. A drink has never tasted so good!
Some tips for hiking Wayna Picchu:
1. Dress appropriately.
2. Bring a small backpack with a bottle of water and a snack. You will need it!
3. Don’t show off and try and run to the top. You’ll never beat the record which is something crazy (in the range of 12 – 15 minutes if I remember correctly).
4. This hike is NOT appropriate to do with babies or very young children.