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Hiking Machu Picchu Montana Trek

The views from the peak of the Montana Trek are insane! But, if they aren’t enough to take your breath away, the attitude of 10,111 feet will. The climb to the top of Machu Picchu Montana Trek is over 2,100 feet from the summit, and it takes the average person about two hours to complete.

The Montana Trek is not for the faint of heart or anyone who is afraid of heights. There are no railings and a few places where one slip could spell disaster. However, if you’re in good shape, the scenery is definitely worth the effort. The top of this mountain provides the best view of the Machu Picchu summit below.

In this guide we’ll tell you where to purchase your tickets ahead of time for the Montana Trek, what to expect during your hike, and the items you’ll want to bring. We’ve also included a few insider’s tips to help you get the most of your visit to this nostalgic Pre-Columbian site.

Quick Article Guide:

1. Traveling from Agua Calientes to Machu Picchu
2. Tips to Prepare for the Machu Picchu Summit
3. What’s the Difference Between Montana Trek and Huayna Picchu
4. Why Hike the Machu Picchu Montana Trek?
5. Purchasing Tickets for the Montana Trek
6. What to Expect on the Machu Picchu Montana Trek
7. When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Machu Picchu?
8. What to Wear to Hike Machu Picchu Montana?
9. What Should I Pack for the Montana Trek?

Traveling to Machu Picchu from Agua Calientes

The Belmond Sanctuary is the only hotel at the summit of Machu Picchu. This tiny but impressive hotel offers thirty-one upscale rooms, but it definitely isn’t large enough to accommodate the 5,000 daily visitors this UNESCO site receives during peak season.

If you reserve in advance, and don’t mind shelling out more than $1,000 dollars a night, this is a great (and the only) hotel to consider. Most people opt to stay in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes which is the only inhabited area that is close to the Machu Picchu summit.

Each morning, thousands of people line up outside of their hotel to catch one of the buses up to the summit. The cost for the round-trip bus ride is $34 dollars per person. Bus tickets can and should be purchased in advance. The buses run every 10 minutes from 5:30am to 3:30pm and the drive to the summit is 25 minutes.

You can also hike to the Machu Picchu summit from Aguas Calientes if you don’t want to pay for the bus. The hike looks beautiful, but it takes about two and a half hours to complete. With two hikes planned in two days – and our slow acclimation to the altitude – we decided to save our energy and take the bus.

Tips to Prepare for the Machu Picchu Summit

If you are staying in the town of Aguas Calientes, you should plan to be in line at the bus stop no later than 6am. By 7am, you can expect to wait more than an hour for your chance to board. Don’t worry, the bus stop is hard to miss, it’s a giant greenish-teal colored tent in the center of the small town.

Once you get to Machu Picchu, there is an additional checkpoint to enter the park. This line can take as long as 30 minutes after 8am. So again, you’ll want to arrive early and purchase your ticket in advance. The price of admission is $70 USD per adult, per day, and $41 USD for children and students.

If you want to hike the Montana Trek or Huayna Picchu, you definitely need to purchase your tickets in advance. The Montana Trek is $86 USD per adult, $57 for children and students, and includes regular entry to Machu Picchu. Only 800 people are allowed on this trek each day, so expect the tickets to be sold out when you arrive.

What’s the Difference Between Montana Trek and Huayna Picchu

There are two hiking trails that you can access from the summit of Machu Picchu, the Montana Trek and Huayna Picchu. Both trails require a separate ticket, and only one trail can be accessed each day. Huayna Picchu takes about an hour and a half to two hours to complete, while the Montana trek can take more than three hours.

Huayna Picchu is available to only 400 visitors per day, while the Montana Trek is a much larger trail, and allows up to 800 visitors per day. The two hikes are very different. The Montana Trek is like climbing rock stairs up the side of the a mountain. Huayna Picchu on the other hand, requires the use of your arms, and it is more of a climb than a hike.

We thought Huayna Picchu was an easier trek, but there are some places where you have to hold onto a chain railing to safely take your next step. There are also some parts of the hike where there is no trail. You’ll have to climb over some large rocks and through a cave to reach the peak. To more about the Huayna Picchu click here.

Why Hike the Machu Picchu Montana Trek?

There are lots of reasons you should consider hiking the Machu Picchu Montana Trek. The views from the top of the summit are absolutely breathtaking, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there on a day with clear skies. Reaching the peak of this mountain was the highlight of our entire experience and we spent two fulls days the park.

There’s also nothing like reaching the top of the mountain and looking down. Everybody feels like Sylvester Stallone from Rocky IV when they finally reach the top of the summit at Montana Machu Picchu. You’ll see strangers hugging each-other and giving out high-fives while still trying to catch their breath.

After taking in the scenery, drinking up what was left of our water, and taking lots of photos, we we’re finally ready to head down the mountain. On the way down we both agreed the experience was unlike anything we had ever seen, and it was also the highest elevation we had ever been to. I would definitely do it again!

Purchasing Tickets for the Montana Trek

For our recent trip to Peru, we used the travel agency GoToPeru to help us organize most of our trip to Cusco. If you’re not using a tour guide, you can purchase tickets to the Machu Picchu Montana Trek, Huayna Picchu, or the Machu Picchu summit online here.

When I was researching for our trip, I was confused by the options, so hopefully this helps:

Machu Picchu Summit tickets are $70 per adult, per day. These tickets give you access to everything at Machu Picchu, except for the two treks and the museum. You also need to purchase a bus ticket from your hotel at Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, unless you are going to hike in. Bus tickets can be purchased online here.

If you want to hike the Montana Trek or the Huayna Picchu trek, it’s $86 per day including regular access to the park. Your ticket only entitles you to one of the two hikes, and you must reserve a time slot. The first 400 people must leave before 8:00 am, and the second group of 400 has to leave before 11:30 am.

Do not be late, or you will forfeit your spot. The park rangers will also force you to start heading back down to the main summit around 1:00 pm, so if decide to leave at the second time zone, make sure you head strait to the top of the peak. Even if you are in excellent shape, you should expect the hike to take about three hours, round-trip.

What to Expect on the Machu Picchu Montana Trek

The main challenge to this hike is the elevation, especially if you’re not used to exercising at an altitude. Being from San Diego, we found ourselves at the back of the pack with the other people from lower elevations like New York City. We’re not Olympic athletes, but we go to the gym and exercise regularly.

There were two women from Mammoth that lead our pack. They were in great shape and probably used to the thinner air. Behind them was a group from Colorado that also showed little issue with the elevation. They also hiked in on the Inca trail the prior week. For the rest of us, lots of breaks were needed to catch our breath.

I’ll admit it, we thought about turning around, but the positive attitude and encouragement we received from the people around us gave us the energy we needed keep going. We would pass a group that was taking a break, and then twenty minutes later, they would pass us. It was like playing tag, or passing the baton back and forth in a relay race.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Machu Picchu?

The best of year to visit Machu Picchu is from mid April to early October when temperatures are moderate and rain is uncommon. We visited during the second week of May and the weather was gorgeous. Everyday was clear, and the temperature was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit from the late morning to early afternoon.

From late October until March, the temperatures at Machu Picchu are much hotter and rain is common. The upside to this is that hotels are less expensive and you won’t have to deal with big crowds. It’s also important to consider that the rangers will close the Montana Trek in a heavy rainstorm.

What to Wear While Hiking Machu Picchu Montana Trek

Your choice of clothing should somewhat depend on the time of year you visit the park. Zip-off pants are very popular here because its cold in the morning, and it warms up in the afternoon. Also, at this altitude, the weather can change quickly, so it’s nice to have a few options. Jenn wore Yoga pants the entire time and she was fine.

Regardless of the season of your visit, you’ll want to invest in a good pair of shoes. Trail shoes or hiking shoes from a store like REI or Roadrunner will do just fine. I would also recommend purchasing soles that are nonslip – they will be useful on the rocks. We paid about $100 dollars for each pair of our shoes, and they have been well worth it.

If you are going to purchase a new pair of shoes for your trip, don’t make the mistake I did at Havasupai. Break them in BEFORE you get to Machu Picchu. You should also bring a light raincoat regardless of the time of year you visit. In the morning you can use it as a light jacket, and when it warms up, you’ll have it in case it rains.

What Should I Pack for Hiking the Montana Trek

The weather at this attitude can change pretty rapidly and it varies by season. In the summer, the temperature is warm, but heavy rain is also common. Regardless of the time of year you go, you’ll want to bring a small backpack with the supplies you’ll need. Camelbak’s backpacks work best in our opinion.

Here are some items we recommend bringing if you’re hiking the Machu Picchu Montana Trek:
A Raincoat or Poncho (At this altitude rainstorms are common, especially in the summer)
Sunscreen (The sun is extremely unforgiving at this altitude)
Bug Repellent (The altitude is too high for mosquitoes, but there are lots of other bugs)
A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses (Expect lots of sun, year-round)
Comfortable trail shoes or hiking shoes (You should expect to walk at least at mile at these ruins)
Lots of Water (Bring at least 64oz of water per person)
Plenty of Electrolytes (Gatorade or Powerade will do)
Tickets (You need to present your ticket at the gate to get in)
Passports (Your passport needs to match your ticket in order to gain entry)
Camera (A good cell phone works for us)

Items to Leave at Home or at Your Hotel:
Pets (There are dogs, llamas, and alpacas at the National Park )
Loud Music (Please leave your stereo or cell phone speaker at home)
Drones (Machu Picchu does not allow drones)
Selfie-Sticks (There are lots of signs that say they are prohibited)

Do you have questions about the Montana Trek or your upcoming trip to Machu Picchu? Leave us a comment below, and if we can’t answer your question, we’ll point you to someone who can.

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