Due to the poor quality of the access ladders on this trail, this trail is currently out of use! We will inform you as soon as it is back up and running! July 04, 2016.
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!
Finding the Trail Head
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
Time needed: 3 – 3 1/2 hours.
Altitude of summit: 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level.
Height to climb from Aguas Calientes: 460 meters (1,509 feet).
Terrain: Near vertical wooden ladders, Inca Trail stone path steps and grassy areas.
Recommended footwear: Training shoes, light weight walking boots.
Entrance time: Not applicable, not recommended to start the trek after 2pm.
Trail head: Aguas Calientes (behind the Sumaq Hotel).
Tickets: Ticket not required; this trail is un-governed (at the moment).
Photos of the Trek
Best Time to Trek
Putucusi Mountain Trek is accessible all year round. During the wet season (November – April) there is a higher chance of heavy rainfall and the trail and ladders may become slippery and more challenging to traverse. The region has a sub-tropical feel throughout the year with average daily temperatures of 18 °C (64 °F). During the dry season the humidity is around 40 – 45%, rising to 60 – 65% during the wet season. Early morning trekking offers cooler temperatures and better shade from the sun. Make sure that you aren’t trekking when the sun goes down (around 6pm) as it is very dangerous.
The weather in this region of Peru can often be un-predictable any time of the year, so you must be prepared with clothing for rain and sun. The trail is mainly stone steps and wooden ladders so comfortable lightweight training or hiking shoes are recommended. A light weight rain coat or poncho and sun protection is advised. Take plenty of water with you and snacks for the top. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are also recommended before snacking as you will definitely be using your hands as well as your feet to climb this trek.
- Minimum of 1.5 to 2 litres of water (3 – 4 personal bottles).
- Sun hat, sun glasses & sun block.
- Walking stick with rubber tip (if required).
- Strong insect repellent.
- Light weight rain coat or poncho.
- Small snacks.
- A change of t-shirt for the top.
- Hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
Hiking Putucusi Mountain alone is not recommended as the trail is very dangerous. Make sure you start and finish your trek in daylight hours (6am – 6pm). Traverse the trail with extreme caution as steep drop offs and high wooden ladders offer plenty of opportunities to fall. Not suitable for anyone with a fear of heights.