Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Other Side of Machu Picchu

I've been seeing a lot of Machu Picchu blog posts recently that have helped me relive my days of exploring the incredible ancient grounds. However, my most lasting memory from my days in Machu Picchu are of hiking up Putukusi, and I haven't seen a single person mention it! Unfortunately, as I visited Machu Picchu in 2008, before Connvoyage even existed, I have no blog post about my time in Machu Picchu and Putukusi...Until NOW!

The Machu Picchu everyone knows and loves
I know everyone who's been to MP is absolutely enthralled by it. I mean, what's not to love? The surrounding mountain range, the mystery and intrigue of the "Lost Cities of the Incas" and the well-preserved ruins of MP is enough to inspire travelers to journey into the heart of Peru. But so few stop to ever look beyond the grounds of MP and see what's on the other side.

Mist-shrouded Putukusi
The trail to Putukusi starts just adjacent to the train tracks right outside the tourist town of Aguas Calientes. The trail is very clearly marked and easy to find so there's really no need to hire a guide, contrary to what the guides will try to tell you.

The hike up Putukusi takes roughly three hours in total, two for the climb up and one for coming back down. Be prepared! Bring a lot of water with you as most of the trail is quite steep and being at the higher altitude, you'll run out of breath easily.

The first 45 minutes of the hike is difficult and then you come upon "the ladder". Quite a daunting sight as you're gasping for air, particularly since "the ladder" stretches at a near 90 degree angle into the sky. Don't worry, it looks much worse than it really is!

The long, arduous climb up Putukusi
The trail continues with more ladders and steep climbs but before you know it, you'll round the last corner and be rewarded for all your efforts with a magnificent, rarely-seen view of the whole of Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu as a speck from Putukusi
Perch yourself on the rock provided and soak it all in. From this vantage point, MP doesn't look so big, so mystifying. It's a great contrast to see MP from Putukusi and really puts into perspective how easy it was for MP to become the "Lost City of the Incas".

Be careful on the hike down. By now your legs will be exhausted and it can be particularly dangerous, especially if your knees are knocking against each other like coconuts, which mine were!

Have YOU ever heard of Putukusi? Or climbed up its steep trail to witness this other side of Machu Picchu?

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. I wanted to do this hike soooo bad, but I was beyond sick with altitude sickness. How cool that you did it!!! Sounds amazing.

  2. @Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Trust you to have heard of Putukusi! =) Too bad about the altitude sickness though! It's such a strange feeling!

  3. I'll definitely be doing it this time around. I've been up there twice and still have not even climbed up Wayna Picchu! This hike looks fantastic. Thanks for reminding me about it! I'll be sure to take pictures!

  4. @Mica I didn't do Wayna Picchu either. My legs were SO SORE after Putukusi, I thought I was going to die! Hopefully next time I get to MP, I'll get to do Wayna Picchu! Definitely take a lot of photos!

  5. Wish I did this hike! didn't have enough time! :( next time for sure.

  6. @milania dela cruz, md. That's the great thing about finding something out that's cool about a place you've already been to: It makes you want to go back! =) I'm sure you'll go back to Peru one day and have the chance to do Putukusi! I know you'll love it!

  7. You're right, I haven't seen this in other posts about Machu Picchu. That is quite some view from Putukusi. I'm definitely getting the impression you have to be in pretty good shape to be making these hikes. Those steps ARE daunting.

  8. @Gray I wouldn't say you have to be in good shape to do the hike, but it certainly would help! Otherwise, just be prepared to have some sore and tired legs the next few days, because I was in agony. The view, though, is completely worth it!

  9. I'm planning on going to Machu Picchu next year so it was great to read about Putukusi. The stairs do look scary, but it sounds like it's worth the hike!

    1. Definitely do it! Just remember, your legs will be very, VERY sore after hiking Putukusi. Enjoy your trip to Peru next year!


What are you thinking? Share your thoughts and comments!

Have You Seen These?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...