In the classic postcard shot, you can see the city of Machu Picchu in the foreground, and a spike of a mountain rising up steeply behind it. That mountain is Wayna Picchu. It's popular, although challenging, to climb Wayna Picchu as part of one's visit to Machu Picchu. From the top, you can explore the ruins on Wayna Picchu itself, and you are afforded a pristine and panoramic view of Machu Picchu, which is spread out below. After our tour of Machu Picchu, three people in my group (myself included) made the ascent to Wayna Picchu.
Wayna Picchu: steep but cool.
Stijn (of the Belgian Front), Regina, and myself branched off from the rest of the group, and made our way up this final mountain. We were the only ones who were crazy enough to still have an appetite for more, after the insane amount of walking we've done lately. It's about an hour to climb to the top, and it's pretty steep most of the way. However, there are (crude) stairs, as well as ropes and handholds, most of the way — which is more civilised than what we've gotten used to, anyway.
Once we reached the top of the ruins, we stopped to relax, and to admire the panoramic view. Like I said, you really do get the best possible view from up here.
The three toughest bastards of the group, admiring the view of the city spread out below us.
The view of Machu Picchu itself is clearly the highlight; but the views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are pretty damn nice, too.
Mountains around Machu Picchu.
We did go to the very top of Wayna Picchu, but not for long: it's way too small and crowded up there, and the views are just as magnificent a bit further down.
The return journey to Machu Picchu is a bit quicker, but much more scary. When you're going back down the mountain, only then do you realise just how steep the path really is, and just how crude and inadequate those stairs and railings are. I'd hate to imagine how many Incas died a perilous death while walking this path; or worse, how many more must have died whilst building the place. Anyway, despite that, one thing's for sure: they certainly did an amazing job.