Mandor Pampa and Putukusi
Visiting Machu Picchu is a wonderful experience, but while you’re there it’s tricky to get a feel for how big and extensive the site is. The vantage point that everyone heads for is Huayna Picchu which is the peak you access directly from Machu Picchu and that forms the back-drop to all the photos.
Climbing Huayna Picchu is a great scramble up a steep trail and it does give a stunning view, but loads of people do it (nowadays a separate permit is required) and this detracts from the peace and tranquillity of the spectacle.
An alternative is Putukusi: not for the feint-hearted, but the reward is brilliant!
Hiram Bingham’s base camp on his 1911 expedition that re-discovered Machu Picchu was on the north bank of the Urubamba River at Mandor Pampa. Just beyond this is the steep-sided, jungle-clad mountain known as Putukusi. It rises more than 600 m in a near-vertical climb (there are fixed ladders) and from the summit has wide open views of Machu Picchu itself as well as the surrounding valleys and snow-capped peaks of Salcantay. It’s best to get there early (maybe 06:00 a.m.) not only to see the ruins before the crowds enter Machu Picchu but because the light is best at this time of day.