September 3, 2015
The second morning, we decided to skip the 5AM sunrise rush and headed to the ruins at about 6AM. We figured the sun wouldn’t reach the ruins until a bit later when it rose above the mountain peaks.
At 6AM there was a long line for the bus and it took about 30 minutes to board. From the bus we could see the first sun light hit the top of Huayna Picchu at about 6:40 and the site was nearly fully lit just as we arrived at the entrance at about 7AM.
We headed back up to the classic view spot and took some of those iconic shots in the early morning light before heading over to start the climb up Huayna Picchu.
You can see most of the main areas in a short day trip, but if you are up to the hike it really adds to the experience to tackle at least one of the ruins’ fabulous climbs.
Huayna Picchu, the iconic peak in all the Machu Picchu photos, is restricted to 400 climbers per morning – 200 at two designated times. Tickets to climb the peak are purchased with the Machu Picchu entrance ticket.
It’s a tough climb on mostly stone stairs, nearly straight up the shaded side of the peak. Having already spent a couple of weeks in the area acclimating we didn’t have too much difficulty with the climb.
It gets pretty crowded at the top but the views are worth it.
Note that the top is a circuit that circles clockwise, to the right, and then through a couple of very tight tunnels – with a sort of Alice in Wonderland feeling coming up out of the rabbit hole as you emerge.
On the way back around and down you pass through an area of stone structures and terraces before continuing down a very steep and narrow staircase.
You can also climb Machu Picchu mountain which should also have awesome views over the complex. Tickets are also pre-purchased with your entrance ticket with starting times restricted to between 7AM and 11AM.
The hike to the Inka Bridge is the easiest and starts behind the viewpoints near the entrance.
Once you pass the registration desk it’s only about another 10 – 15 minutes on a fairly level track to the viewpoint of the bridge. The old Inka stone foot path passes along a shaded lane above a steep drop-off.
Midday the crowds can be somewhat overwhelming, but still it’s a magical place.