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Huayna Picchu or Wayna Picchu (Quechua: "Young Peak") is a mountain in Peru around which the Urubamba River bends. It rises over Machu Picchu, the so-called "lost city of the Incas" and divides it into sections. The Incas built a trail up the side of the Huayna Picchu and built temples and terraces on its top. The peak of Huayna Picchu is about 2,720 metres (8,900 ft) above sea level, or about 360 metres (1,200 ft) higher than Machu Picchu.

According to local guides, the top of the mountain was the residence for the high priest and the local virgins. Every morning before sunrise, the high priest with a small group would walk to Machu Picchu to signal the coming of the new day. The Temple of the Moon, one of the three major temples in the Machu Picchu area, is nestled on the side of the mountain and is situated at an elevation lower than Machu Picchu. Adjacent to the Temple of the Moon is the Great Cavern, another sacred temple with fine masonry. The other major local temples in Machu Picchu are the Temple of the Condor and the Temple of the Sun.

The number of daily visitors allowed to enter Huayna Picchu is restricted to 400. A steep and at times exposed climb leads to the summit. Some portions are slippery and steel cables (a via ferrata) provide some support. At times during the rainy season, the tours are closed.

From the summit, a second trail leads down to the Gran Caverna and the Temple of the Moon (a misnomer). These natural caves, on the north face of the mountain, are lower than the starting point of the trail. The return path from the caves completes a loop around the mountain as it rejoins the main trail.

Places related:

Machu Picchu

Inca Bridge

September 2009

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