A tough trekking challenge that takes you to the top of Putucusi Mountain and offers views over Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. A free trail that starts from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), not from within the grounds of Machu Picchu citadel. Beware though; the trail includes 7 sets of near vertical wooden ladders, one of which is about 4 stories high!
From Aguas Calientes follow the train tracks out of town in a roughly northerly direction towards Machu Picchu and the hydroelectric plant. Follow the train track not the road to Machu Picchu. Directly behind the Sumaq Hotel on the right hand side of the railway line, a small and poorly marked trail starts to descend the mountainside. After about 10 minutes you will arrive at the deserted warden’s hut where the trail proper starts. See the trail head map below.
From the derelict warden’s hut you pass through a metal gate where you are faced with your first climbing challenge – a 4 story high wooden ladder. The ladder is well constructed and in good condition and a thick wire guard rail offers an additional point of support. This ladder is the most death-defying of the 7 ladders on the trail and is about 30 meters (98 feet) in height, clinging to the mountain at an angle of about 70 degrees. Take extra care through this section as a slip or fall would result in certain injury, if not death (seriously). Continuing up the trail you will climb another 6 wooden ladders which are much shorter and of a lesser angle (45 – 60 degrees). After about 45 minutes of trekking you pass across a short ridge that connects to the base of Putucusi Mountain. Here impressive views to the rear of Putucusi and the untouched dense jungle cloud forest are unveiled. Looking back the way you came you will also be afforded views of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) and can appreciate its limitations as a town and its remote location. From here the relentless stone stepped trail continues to the summit; about another 45 minutes in total. At the top there is a summit made of large jutting rocks, the view across the valley opens up and you get impressive views across to the citadel of Machu Picchu. The peak of Putucusi Mountain is about the same altitude as Machu Picchu so you won’t get aerial views of the citadel (like from Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain), but views from the side.
Note that the wooden ladders can be slippery when wet and the underside the rungs are often mouldy or have insects on them. Take wet wipes and hand sanitizer for the top.
An intense trek that involves navigating tall wooden ladders, rocky slopes and relentless 45 degrees trails. Ideal for trekkers in good physical condition and those that are not afraid of heights.
Full Trail Difficulty: challenging
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