18 days in South America – Tips to scaling Machu Picchu

Besides taking a historical guided tour within the Machu Picchu Citadel, one of the other popular activities to do in this UNESCO World Heritage Site is to hike up to the submit of Machu Picchu and/or Huayna Picchu.

Between Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, the hiker husband chose Machu Picchu as it was less steep for the leisure-hiker wife (ahem, me) with short legs.

I was just grateful that the weather turned out awesome and it was not raining!

Remember to book your tickets on www.machupicchu.gob.pe as there are limited tickets (2500) each day, but you definitely need patience to navigate this website.

Reservations made on this website are valid for 6 hours only, and be sure to pay up online before you head out to MP!

1. Rise and shine early!
Choose the ticket that allows you to start early at 7am so that by the time you are descending, the heat will not kill you. joojourneys_machupicchu_citadel_entrance

2. Bring along a windbreaker
Early morning climb can be quite cold around 15 – 20 degrees celsius.
I wore a windbreaker which I removed 30 minutes into the hike. joojourneys_machupicchu_windbreaker

3. Bring water and snacks.
Health-conscious folks probably choose apples and bananas. Sorry folks I’m a chips and sweets person. I chose some gummies for quick sugar booster while he chose chocolate.

4. Wear good shoes
We did the hike during a relatively dry day, but parts of the trail could be wet or slippery. The path was well-defined for most parts, some requiring myself (I’m 158cm) to use my hands to climb too, when the rock boulders were too tall for me to walk up or down. joojourneys_machupicchu_bigbouldersjoojourneys_machupicchu_thesteps

5. Have fun while hiking
Take many photos! The problem with the trail is that there was no real signage telling you how far you are from the submit, and you can only gauge by having descending hikers telling you the approximate distance / time that you are away.

However, if you are one of the first few hikers in the morning, you have nobody! He kept encouraging me (see, hiking is usually not my thing and look at that tired face) and we took mini breaks in-between, keeping in mind that the whole climb including the descend (which may take longer) should be approximately 4 hours. joojourneys_machupicchu_photobreak1

The last 15 to 20 minutes before reaching the submit could be breathless and restless. I recall the question “are we there yet” popping up in my mind repeatedly. And finally, the end in sight! joojourneys_machupicchu_almostthere

After 1hr 45mins, 10,000 steps and 100 floors (according to my Apple health app), at 3061m above sea level, you feel like you are on top of the world! (Ok, not the Everest I know, but it’s still a little achievement for someone like me). joojourneys_machupicchu_3061_v1

joojourneys_machupicchu_SJHJ

6. Be a cheerleader
While descending, we saw many hikers who started at 9am, and they were suffering the from the heat just 1 hour into trekking. There were elderly hikers too, and it wasn’t an easy route for them.

We also provided the estimated distance / time to those who were after us, giving them a chance to gauge if they want to continue or to head back, in the event they can’t make it to the submit.

Our descend took a little longer, and we returned to the Citadel at 11am, clocking a total of 4 hours! joojourneys_machupicchu_done

7. Select your lodging carefully
We chose to splurge on a night in Belmond Sanctuary Lodge Machu Picchu for an early night before we scaled MP, more in the upcoming post!  

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