Putucusi is one of the mountains that surround Machu Picchu. However, unlike the other mountains such as Huayna Picchu or Machupicchu mountain, the visit to this summit is free. Of course, to get to the top, you must make a difficult access hike. You must start from the town of Aguas Calientes for a few kilometers. This adventure is only recommended for young people in good physical condition.
All about Putucusi Mountain
What is it?
Putucusi Mountain, along with Huayna Picchu and Machupicchu Mountain, is one of the three peaks that surround the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. It is famous because from its top you can see the Inca city. However, reaching the top is a difficult task. There is a steep climb to be made, including a stretch down some very chilling wooden stairs.
Where it is located?
Putucusi Mountain is located approximately 2 kilometers from the town of Aguas Calientes in Cusco, Peru. Geographically it is located in front of the Inca city of Machu Picchu. However, the only way to get there is through the village.
How high is it?
The top of Putucusi Mountain is located 2,560 meters above sea level (8,398 feet high).
How to get?
To get to the top of Putucusi mountain, you must do a difficult walk of approximately 2 kilometers. You must start from the town of Aguas Calientes and follow the train tracks until you reach a detour that leads to the mountain. Then you start the ascent by a trail until you reach the most difficult section: the wooden stairs.
The first part of the wooden stairs were removed so to continue with the path you must climb a steel rope until you reach the stairs. This section is the most difficult, so many people give up continuing with the route. If you manage to reach the top of the stairs, you will only have to continue on foot to the Putucusi mountain viewpoint.
Map to get to Putucusi Mountain
What does your name mean?
Putucusi is a word of Quechua origin (the language of the Incas) that means ‘Happy Mountain’. The reason for this name is unknown. Perhaps because of its round shape at its top that draws a lot of attention.
Putucusi mountain does not have Inca constructions. Neither have they been found ceramics or tools that demonstrate the Inca or pre-Inca presence in the place. This may be due to the fact that no work has been carried out in this sector. Due to its location close to Machu Picchu, it was one of the most outstanding peaks in the Inca city. Unlike the Huayna Picchu or Machupicchu mountains, the Putucusi does not have stone paths to its top.
Currently, Putucusi Mountain is an alternative destination for tourists looking for a bit of adventure during their trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. In 2016, due to constant rains, the first flight of the bamboo stairs was destroyed. Thus, to reach the top, you must first climb a rope. In this way, passing this obstacle, you reach the second flight of vertical stairs, which lead to the top.
Hiking route to Putucusi
The route to the top of Putucusi Mountain is difficult. First you must start from the town of Aguas Calientes following the train tracks that lead to the Hydroelectric station. After 10 minutes of walking, you will come across a sign that indicates the detour to Putucusi. There the ascending path begins through trails and paths surrounded by vegetation. There they will meet at the foot of the mountain.
After almost 1 kilometer of walking following the path, you will reach the famous ‘bamboo stairs’. These stairs are built on a totally vertical rock formation. To continue with the route, they must first climb a metal rope until they reach the first rung of stairs. This is the part where most visitors give up on continuing. Mainly due to fear of overcoming the long lines of vertical stairs.
Finally, once you have passed the set of vertical stairs, you come to a steep path. This last obstacle must be overcome to reach the mountain viewpoint, at the top of Putucusi. From there, Machu Picchu and the Hiram Bingham road that leads to the Inca city can be seen in the distance. In total, approximately 2.2 kilometers are covered. The path can be done in 2 hours, approximately. It is not recommended for children or older adults.
Flora and fauna
Putucusi mountain is surrounded by a lot of vegetation such as: ferns, bromeliads, bamboos and, above all, orchids whose diversity reaches up to 200 species. Among the most outstanding species of animals are: the vizcachas, the tanager, the hummingbird, the cock of the rocks, the taruka, among others. Insects like millipedes, ants, grasshoppers and, above all, butterflies also abound.
For the Incas, mountains are sacred entities that rule over the destiny of men. The highest peaks, such as the snowy peaks, are the most important ‘apus’ (lords in the Quechua language). Thus, the snowy mountains Ausangate and Salkantay are some of the most venerated gods by the Incas. This last mountain can be seen from the top of the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
The visit to Putucusi Mountain is free.
What to bring
When you go to Putucusi you should bring the following:
- Trekking shoes (hard sole).
- Non-slip gloves (for climbing ropes).
- raincoat for the rain.
- Cap or hat.
- Insect repellent.
- Comfortable clothing (preferably sports).
- Photographic camera.
- Snacks and drinks.
- Rope with harness (optional).
The climate in the Putucusi is tropical, with hot temperatures during the day and moderately cold at night. The maximum temperature can reach 24ºC. (75.2 ° F). Minimum temperatures can drop to 10ºC. (50ºF). Humidity is between 40% and 65%. In the mornings, the mountain is usually cloudy.
It is dangerous?
The route to the top of Putucusi mountain is dangerous. Definitely going through the ‘bamboo stairs’ is the most complicated section. Many visitors reject continuing with this route due to the difficulty involved.
Image gallery of Putucusi Mountain
The best time to visit Putucusi Mountain is during the dry season months (April to October). The months of the rainy season (from November to March) are not recommended. Especially February which is the rainiest month. The roads in those days are slippery.
The town of Aguas Calientes, in addition to the Putucusi mountain, offers other tourist attractions such as: the Mandor waterfalls, the artisan market, the thermal baths and, of course, the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Tips for your visit
The Putucusi mountain hike is a demanding adventure. There are no guides that offer the route there. You can do the hike on your own. Preferably go in a group. It is also not advisable to do this route alone, without company. The best option is to go in a group and well equipped.
The top of Putucusi Mountain is 2,560 meters above sea level. At that altitude, it is not common to suffer from the symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, nausea, fatigue). Likewise, all visitors will feel excessive agitation when exerting themselves. This is due to the mountainous geography and the lack of oxygen at high altitudes.