Hike up to the Putucusi Mountain

When heading for Machu Picchu, climbers often want a birds’ eye view of the ruins and most head up to the summit of the famous Huayna Picchu. This mountain makes the backdrop for Machu Picchu. Find our the best information about the Putucusi Mountain bellow.

But wait! There’s another mountain just a little further away from the ruins. Visited less frequently, also giving the climber great views: Putucusi (also spelled Putucusi) laying directly across the Urubamba River from the ruins of Machu Picchu.

The summit has wide open views over Machu Picchu as well as the surrounding valleys and mountain peaks. It’s best to get there early (maybe 6:00 a.m.) to see the ruins before the crowds enter Machu Picchu and also because the light is best at that time of the day.

Aguas Calientes is a small village surrounded by rugged impenetrable mountains in the eastern part of Peru’s Oriental Cordillera . The entire town exists for one sole purpose: to serve the millions of yearly visitors to Machu Picchu.

Right next to Aquas Calientes, even closer than Machu Picchu, Putucusi Mountain is a shear cliffed, jungle coated mountain rising the better part of two thousand feet up from the valley.

On a clear day it’s possible to see Machu Picchu with snow-capped Salkantay behind it, which is an absolute spectacular sight. Putukusi is the best and almost only thing to do in the Aguas Calientes area that doesn’t involve Machu Picchu and doesn’t require paying an entry fee.

The mountain, like all others in the area, is composed of near vertical, perfectly smooth stone walls with steep gullies intersecting them. They are completely covered by cloud forest.

The trail leading up the mountain is more vertical than horizontal, that seems to be the general patterning among the mountains here. When looking out at Machu Picchu from the summit of Putukusi it is interesting to think why the Incas chose to build this masterpiece in such a rugged place.

Perhaps the incredible beauty of the landscape inspired them and they thought of themselves as standing in the presence of their gods.

The wilderness here is some of the most pristine left anywhere on earth and much of it has most likely has never seen a human being. It is interesting to imagine that there might be another Macchu Picchu hidden in these mountains that nobody knows even exists.

How to find the entry point of Putucusi Mt?

  • From Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) you must follow the train tracks in a northerly direction (towards the Hydroelectric Station) until you leave the outskirts of the town.
  • After walking approximately 1 kilometer you must enter a path that descends from the mountain.
  • After approximately 10 minutes of walking along the path, you will reach an uninhabited surveillance cabin. At that point the path that leads to the top of Putucusi Mountain begins.

How is the road for the hike up to the Putucusi mountain?

  • Once the road to Putucusi has begun, the first obstacle must be overcome: a huge vertical rock. A few years ago there was a ladder there but now, no.
  • To overcome this obstacle you need to hold a rope and ascend slowly and with great force. Most tourists give up continuing on this stretch.
  • After overcoming the first obstacle, you will have to ascend six less vertical wooden stairs. This section requires a lot of security and courage.
  • After ascending all the stairs, you will pass a small ridge that connects to the base of the mountain.
  • From this point, the tour will reveal breathtaking views of the dense jungle of Machu Picchu. From another point you will get views of the town of Aguas Calientes.
  • The top of Putucusi is at the same height of the Inca city of Machu Picchu.

What is the difficulty of the hike up to the Putucusi Mountain?

Challenging difficulty – It is without a doubt the most difficult hike in Machu Picchu. It is considered quite intense and involves overcoming high stairs and quite steep trails located on rocky slopes. It is recommended for hikers in good physical condition. Not suitable for people with fear of heights.

When is the best time to go?

  • This hike is possible throughout the year. However, the route is complicated in the rainy season from November to April). In those days, the trails become slippery and difficult to overcome.
  • The most advisable thing is to make the walk in the dry season (from May to October). In those months it hardly rains and the weather is ideal for ascending the mountain.
  • Trekking is recommended in the early hours of the day as temperatures are cooler.
  • It is not advised to ascend the Putucusi at night (when there is low light).

Useful information about Putucusi Mountain

  • Time needed: Ascent between 3 hours and 3 hours 30 minutes.
  • Altitude at the summit: 2,500 meters above sea level (8,202 ft).
  • Height in relation to Machu Picchu: 460 meters (1,509 ft).
  • Terrain: Inca stone path, grass paths and vertical wooden stairs.
  • Recommended footwear: Hiking boots.
  • Entry schedule: You do not have a set schedule.
  • Type of ticket: You do not need any type of ticket.
  • Availability: No income limit.

Is hike up to the Putucusi Mountain dangerous?

  • Climbing the Putucusi mountain can be a dangerous experience due to the difficult stretches that must be overcome to reach the top.
  • It is not recommended for people traveling alone.
  • Tourists who are afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo should not do the trek.
  • If the visitor does not feel safe to overcome the most difficult sections of the Putucusi mountain, it is best to give up.