Things to do in Machu Picchu: Putucusi Mountain Hike
Thursday February 20, 2020 - Posted by Inca Trail Team
*Machu Picchu’s hidden jewel*
If you are an experienced hiker looking for a unique hike in the direct surroundings of Machu Picchu, you might consider the Putucusi hike. Besides being a challenging hike, the Putucusi Mountain offers the most extraordinary views on Machu Picchu and its outskirts. However, the Putucusi hike requires effort, strength and a bit of courage too…
Often referred to as “The Hidden Jewel of Machu Picchu,” Putucusi Mountain offers the only horizontal perspective on Machu Picchu. Putucusi is a round-shaped mountain, located in front of Machu Picchu (‘old mountain’ in Quechua), on the opposite site of the Urubamba River in the town of Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town). Putucusi means “happy” in the ancient Peruvian language, Quechua, and that’s why it is also known as “The Happy Mountain.” The mountain offers epic views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Urubamba River valley.
The top of Putucusi is no more than 130 meters (425 feet) higher than Machu Picchu: around 2560 meters (8500 feet) above sea level. However, hiking the Putucusi is a significant challenge, far more difficult than the Machu Picchu Mountain hike and the hike to Huayna Picchu Mountain (‘young mountain’ in Quechua). Nonetheless, the hikers who did this trail agree that it is completely worth the effort once you reach the top. But you need to be well prepared for the Putucusi Mountain hike: Machu Picchu’s hidden jewel.
Things to do in Machu Picchu: Putucusi Mountain Hike
The hike starts at the village of Aguas Calientes and no special ticket is required. While the Huayna Picchu tickets are very high in demand, and you also need to buy a special ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain, you can simply start the Putucusi Mountain hike without any ticket or permit.
To do this hike, you need an extra day in Aguas Caliente. During the Putucusi hike, you do nót visit the ruins of Machu Picchu; you cannot enter Machu Picchu from this trail (different than with Machu Picchu Mountaina or Huayna Picchu mountain).
Not many people do this hike; this hike is for the people that have extra time, or are on a second trip to Machu Picchu and looking for extra opportunities to explore the area and want to learn about special Things to do In Machu Picchu.
To do this trek, you first follow the train route that leads from Aguas Calientes to ‘Hidroeléctrica’. Behind the Sumaq Hotel, on the right side of the railway, a small path starts to go down into the hillside. Enter this path and after a walk of about ten minutes you will see a sign that indicates the path to the Putucusi Mountain.
Then you will encounter stone stairs where the ascent begins. After 30-40 minutes, the true challenge starts: you will encounter around seven sets of vertical wooden stairs, one of which is about 30 meters long! After this challenging portion of the hike you will see Aguas Calientes from above. From there, the hike continues along a stone path for another 45 minutes, until reaching the incredible summit.
From here you have the most marvelous views! You can see the outskirts of Machu Picchu, the way in which the Urubamba river “hugs” the Inca citadel and the amazing valley that surrounds this spectacular scenery. You will even be able to observe the transition from the Andean mountain range to the incredible high jungle of the Amazon!
Tips for Putucusi Mountain Hike
- This hike is not appropriate for people with a fear of heights.
- The route might be confusing. We advise to go only if you are an experienced hiker. It is best to not go alone.
- This hike should only be done by trekkers in good physical condition, and is not recommended for children and seniors.
- Plan well and remember that going down is at least as hard as climbing up; many find this even the hardest part.
- The hike lasts around four hours.
- There are no ruins along the hike to the mountain. The main purpose is entirely focused on the incredible views that this hike offers.
- Remember you do not need an entrance ticket, the admission is free.
- Don’t do the Putucusi Trek during the rainy season (from November to March). While you can visit Machu Picchu without a problem during this season, the hike to the Putucusi becomes too slippery. This can be dangerous, in combination with its steepness and gorges on the side of the path.
- The best time to hike Putucusi is during the dry season, from April to October, during the sunny days and absence of rain. It is also very important to hike during day light, between 6 am and 6 pm. Do not start the hike after 2 pm!
What to bring on the Putucusi hike
Some special equipment is needed for the Putucusi hike. To be well prepared, it is recommended to bring:
- Safety harnesses, anti-slip gloves,
- hiking boots,
- climbing rope*
- a jacket or poncho for protection against the rain,
- a hat or cap, an extra t-shirt for the way back,
- strong insect repellent,
- enough food and snacks, around 2 liters of water per person,
- sunscreen, and of course
- a camera to capture the extraordinarily beautiful shots of the surrounding landscapes.
- Update! Unfortunately, some of the vertical wooden stairs to the top have been damaged! This means that the correct climbing gear is essential. Make sure you talk to people from the area before you depart so you are well informed.
The hike to the Putucusi Mountain is not a walk in the park. However, if you are a passionate hiker in good physical condition, well acclimatized, you can certainly consider to do this hike and get the best and breathtaking views of Machu Picchu and surroundings. Just take into account all our advice, and enjoy the extraordinary one of the Things to do in Machu Picchu: Putucusi Mountain Hike. It’s Machu Picchu’s hidden jewel.