OverviewThis very steep but amazing hikes leads to rocky summit of Putukusi climbing straight up more than 2,000 ft. in less than a mile. The trail climbs up through spectacular jungle scenery, up and over, sheer granite cliffs, and finally rewards with the spectacular panoramic scenery from the top. However, this hike is a physical challenge and features areas with significant exposure, and is not for the faint of heart. The reward is however well worth it for those willing to venture to its summit.
Getting ThereFrom the center of Aguas Calientes walk down to where the bus station for buses to Machu Picchu is, down by the river. From here follow the track away from town towards the direction of Machu Picchu (north)for less than a half mile. You will see a sign that says 112. immediately thereafter find another sign with a trail climbing steeply out of the railroad that points you up to Putukusi.
Route DescriptionThe route starts by climbing steeply out of the valley, before slightly leveling out. At one point, you'll even start going down, before climbing steeply up again. At this point you'll hit your first ladder but its small and nothing compared to what's ahead. Coninue past the first ladder a little ways, round a corner and come face to face with the route's greatest challenge.
Ahead of you should lie a ladder, bigger, than anything you could have imagined that curves up, and disappears into the canopy. The ladder is in fact nearly 200 ft. high with more than 130 individual steps. It is one of the most impressive things I have seen on a hike and its construction is truly an amazing feat. Don't worry though the climb up the ladder is relatively safe, and easier than it looks, but still very exposed and not recommended for those who are afraid of heights or don't like lots of exposure. Remember that you'll have to come down this on the way down.
After the monster ladder, the trail continues steeply up and passes over four more ladders. The two parts worth mentioning, are the part where you will be on a steep slope covered, in loose dirt, with considerable exposure on the right side. BE CAREFUL, it is incredibly slippery especially when going down, and your judgement is required as to whether or not to do it when it wet. It is however as short section (30 ft.) but should be treated with respect.
The second part comes at the top of one of the subsequent ladders. The ladder tops out below a small crag requiring basic scrambling skills to over come. Though it should pose no problem for anyone who's done rock-climbing in the past, it is intimidating for those who are used to just hiking and weren't expecting to find such an obsacle to overcome.
After climbing up over the all these ladders, the trail will come out of the trees and hit a saddle. From here the summit is up to the left, and it looks like it is fairly close. Don't be fooled, what you see is a false summit, and you are in fact less than halfway there. This last half is more than 1,000 extremely steep feet and there are no ladders, just millions of switchbacks. Also because you're no longer in the trees, it will quickly get very hot. Finally don't get discouraged at the view from the false summit, I can assure that the view from the top is absolutely worth it, and you have to go all the way to the top to see Machu Picchu.