What to expect hiking Huayna Picchu
Machu Pichuu was just as impressive the second time around, but today was all about Huayna Picchu.
Day 05: Huayna Picchu 2,720m.
The trail head to Huayna Picchu is located about fifteen minutes from the main entrance of Machu Pichuu, north of the Machu Picchu citadel, behind the Sacred Rock.
We arrived before the gates had even opened, securing a place at the front of the queue that, by the time we entered, was winding its way all the way back towards Machu Picchu.
After signing in with success (we'd remembered our passports, winning), we began the short walk to where the trail splits off into two different routes.
We veered off towards the short trail, beginning the ascent that winds up Huayna Picchu on a long, curved, trail that reaches near vertical right before the summit.
The continuous winding around, uphill, at altitude, is where the challenge lies in summiting Huayna Picchu.
The views along the way are stunning.
They are also very, very steep. The higher we went, the more tentative my footing was when we peered out from the many terraces along the way.
The looped trail continues past alters, platforms, tunnels and, just when you think your nearly there, a few more stairs.
We wound our way up the mountain in steep circles, climbing the giant stone steps right up until the very peak, when they hit vertical.
We had to conquer the last section on all fours. Two feet on the stairs below, trying not to look too far down the drop of the cliff face, both hands on the stair above, before stepping one leg up in order to push, pull and heave our bodies upwards like hikers-turned-rock-climbers.
Once you make it past the vertical steps, there are cliff ledges and wide, jutting rocks waiting to be climbed and begging for a photo shoot.
The view from the top is a broad, far sprawling vista that sweeps over the entirety of Machu Picchu and all that surrounds it.
It gave me another appreciation of these phenomenal ruins all over again.
After spending an ample amount of photo worthy time at the top, we began the steep, leg-quivering descent back down.
After climbing Rainbow Mountain and hiking The Inca Trail, Huayna Picchu was where my tired muscles would of seized up completely, had it not been for the grey-haired Chinese woman passing by, who offered me tiger balm she pulled with the speed of a ninja from her pack.
The good thing is the hike down is a lot quicker than the hike up. Depending on how much time you spend at the top, a round trip could take between 2-3 hours.
By the time we made it back down to Agua Calientes, then onwards to Cusco, it was dark.
Taking up our usual spot (by the fire) and ordering our usual meal (pumpkin soup) I watched the colour drain from Ha-deys face and slid like a baseball player making a home run to catch her head before it hit the tiled floor.
A half hour later, the Doctor arrived dressed all in black, right down to a leather case that he carried with the impeccable air of a man who spoke medicine in more than one language.
A half after that, we were in an ambulance bouncing its way down the cobbled streets of Cusco.
We'd set foot on Machu Picchu, hiked Huayna Pichu and walked the streets of Cucso for over a week.
We'd hit the altitude limit.
When Ha-day was declared fit for travel the next day, this matching clothed team of two smacked a crisp high five and boarded their return flight to Lima.