Follow Us
South America

The Stairs of Death in Peru, South America

The Huayna Picchu hike, often referred to as the “Stairs of Death,” is one of the most thrilling and iconic hikes in Peru. It offers breathtaking views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding landscape, but it also requires a good level of fitness and a head for heights. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for and enjoy the Huayna Picchu hike:


  • Elevation: Huayna Picchu rises to about 2,720 meters (8,920 feet) above sea level.
  • Duration: The hike typically takes 2-4 hours round trip, depending on your pace and time spent at the summit.
  • Difficulty: This hike is challenging due to its steep and narrow paths, but it’s accessible to those in good physical condition.


  1. Tickets and Permits: Access to Huayna Picchu is restricted and requires a separate ticket in addition to the Machu Picchu entrance ticket. Tickets are limited and sell out quickly, so it’s crucial to book well in advance, often several months ahead.
  2. Acclimatization: Spend a few days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley to acclimatize to the altitude before attempting the hike.
  3. What to Bring:
  • Water: Carry at least 1-2 liters of water.
  • Snacks: Lightweight, energy-dense snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars.
  • Sun Protection: Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Rain Gear: A poncho or lightweight waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good grip.

The Hike

  1. Starting Point: The trailhead for Huayna Picchu is located within the Machu Picchu site. Follow the signs from the main entrance to the Huayna Picchu check-in point.
  2. Trail Description: The trail is well-marked but involves steep, narrow stone steps, often referred to as the “Stairs of Death” due to their steepness and the exposure to drops on either side.
  3. Pace Yourself: The hike is steep and can be physically demanding, so take breaks as needed and maintain a steady pace. The altitude can make the hike more strenuous.


  1. Summit Views: From the summit of Huayna Picchu, you get a spectacular aerial view of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River, and the surrounding Andes mountains.
  2. Inca Ruins: Along the trail, you’ll encounter several Inca ruins, including terraces and small buildings that add historical context to the hike.
  3. Flora and Fauna: The trail passes through lush vegetation, with opportunities to see orchids and a variety of bird species.

Practical Tips

  1. Weather: The best time to hike is during the dry season (May to October), but be prepared for sudden weather changes. The path can be slippery when wet.
  2. Safety: Use the handrails where available and be cautious on the steep sections. The trail is narrow and can be dangerous if not navigated carefully.
  3. Guides: While a guide is not required, having one can enhance your experience by providing insights into the history and ecology of the area.

Combining with Other Activities

  1. Machu Picchu Tour: Plan your Huayna Picchu hike either before or after your tour of Machu Picchu to maximize your visit. Most people prefer to do the hike in the morning when it’s cooler.
  2. Other Hikes: If you have time and energy, consider hiking to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) or the Inca Bridge for different perspectives of Machu Picchu.

Health and Safety

  1. Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting the hike. Regular cardio and strength training exercises can help prepare you.
  2. Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated and fueled with snacks to maintain your energy levels.
  3. Altitude Sickness: Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea. If you feel unwell, descend and seek medical attention if necessary.

The Huayna Picchu hike offers an exhilarating adventure with unparalleled views and a sense of accomplishment. With proper preparation and respect for the trail’s challenges, it can be a highlight of your visit to Machu Picchu. Enjoy the journey and the incredible vistas from the top!



About Author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

South America

Iguazu Falls Travel Guide For Argentina & Brazil (+Map)

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available but the majority have suffered alteration in that some injected
South America

Colonia Del Sacramento: A Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Uruguay in South America

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available but the majority have suffered alteration in that some injected