I actually trained for 5 months in the lead up to this. That’s because I thought I was doing the Inca Trail. But I completely misunderstood what my cousin told me, who I went on this trip with. We still went to Peru but we walked up Huayna Picchu, the mountain next to Machu Picchu.
The training was still worth it because the hike was incredibly steep; we may as well have been climbing. It was definitely a solid workout. I’m sure it’s not as hard as the Inca Trail but if you still want to get some exercise and be rewarded with magnificent views, I recommend Huayna Picchu. You need to have a ticket to Machu Picchu to be able to access Huayna Picchu though, as the entrance is via the ruins.
For me, the round trip, going up and then back down, was roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. I had the company of my friend, which made it easier and we were both considerate of each other’s need for break times (my cousin went ahead of us…show off!). Throughout the entire hike, we were surrounded by green forest. We started in the morning, at roughly 10am to avoid the afternoon heat. The trees provided sufficient shade and made the walk even cooler.
There are no barriers here, or signs or any sort of safety measures, and some areas of the hike can be really narrow and dangerous. So you have to dress appropriately. It’s all worth it though because the view from the top is truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight!
Although, I clearly remember seeing a very well-dressed man walking down as I was heading up. I complimented him on his outfit – a nice polo shirt, tailored pants and I think boat shoes! He said he felt ridiculous and out of place. What was even more surprising was that his girlfriend who was hiking with him was in full fitness get up. We all had a laugh about it. It’s weird, the moments that stick with you.
On the way back down I pretty much slid on my butt in the steeper areas and enjoyed a leisurely walk back to base. My friend and I found ourselves in the company of a married couple from the US who were a delight to chat with while we made our descent. It was roughly midday by the time we were done and we rewarded ourselves with a refreshing glass of Pisco Sour!