Machu Picchu and fear of heights

If you have been there, I would appreciate hearing from you, whether you have fear of heights or not. I want to know what to expect.

We’re planning to go there next year, kind of a bucket list item for me, my spouse, and my sister (her spouse is not able to go). But some of the photos and videos have me worried, although I can’t really tell for sure.

I have a pretty visceral fear of heights, although I managed hiking up the easy trail in the Grand Canyon ok because the trail itself is over 4 feet wide. I can’t even look at movies where people are standing on ledges or something like that. For this trip, I’m worried about getting to a place where I can’t go forward, or if I try to force myself I’ll get stuck in the middle of some bridge over a chasm or something.

So, are there such places as unavoidable bridges over chasms, in the regular tour routes, that would be a problem for me? Do I need to try to fix this fear in advance by therapy or something?

eta: I don’t think I would have a problem with the terraces or the buildings that you usually see in photos. It’s going from point A to point B and the only way to get there is along some steep ledge or bridge or something.

Are you planning to get the train up, or walk up?

I got the train when I went, and I don’t remember any bridges or chasms that needed to be crossed (though it was more than ten years ago now, and it’s possible I’ve forgotten). It might be more of a problem if you’re planning to hike up, though - maybe someone else can comment on that.

It has been about 10 years, but IIRC:

  • The bus ride up to Machu Piccu is on a 2-lane road with numerous switchbacks, so you might take an aisle seat (walking up is not really an option unless you’re a tri-athlete acclimated to 10,000’ height) for that ride. There is nothing to see in terms of ruins until you get to the top, so you won’t be missing anything.

  • You should be OK, there are a few overlooks that you would want to avoid, but most of the ruins are accessible and while a few are at high points, if you can negotiate a small hill in your home town without agony, you can get to about 95% of Machu Piccu.

  • One caution; there is a smaller, less-visited part of the city on a neighboring peak that has a very limited number of ticket per day. DO NOT BOOK THIS! The trail there is very winding, steep, and is basically an outcrop on the side of a mountain.

But the basic tour should be OK.

Regarding the train, it goes from Cucso (where I presume you will fly into) to the small village at the foot of Maccu Pichu (Aguas Calientes). Then you have to take the bus.

But do go, it is one of the most amazing places in the world.

IMHO as always. Others may have different perspectives.

I’ve been, and I’m pretty terrified of heights. For all of the standard sightseeing, it was fine. There are a couple of edges that had my tummy flipping over when I saw other people going near them, but you don’t have to go near them yourself.

I did not, however, even attempt the walk up to Huanay Picchu, which is apparently quite narrow and scary. I didn’t feel like I missed much by not going.

It is fantastic. Go, and make memories to last a lifetime.

I had a bit of a simulpost with Stainless Steel Rat, there. The “smaller, less-visited part of the city on a neighboring peak” that they have warned you against is Huanay Picchu, which I have warned you against. Worth heeding.

We’ll definitely be taking the train, all of us are in our late 60’s so hiking that far just isn’t in the cards. Thanks for the advice about the bus, noted to sit in aisle seat and close eyes as needed. Thanks also for the advice about Huanay Picchu, noted not to try to go - if the others want to go I will sit somewhere quiet and enjoy the view.

I hiked in via the trail, and the only fear of heights moment was the river crossing at the start, (don’t ask!)

After that, even climbing the highest pass, was not fear inducing. At the site itself it’s very easy to simply avoid any spots that seem too edgy to you. Plenty of wonderful rambling about to do, without the edgy parts!

(Also, it’s very awesome, you’re going to love it! Please return and share a couple of photos!)

What I have done to battle my fear of heights is to just force myself to confront it. Remember that fear is a perfectly reasonable reaction to heights–we climbed out of the trees millions of years ago and got big enough that falling even a few feet can hurt us bad. Understand that your amygdala is giving you good advice, but also that you can override it. I overrode it well enough to shingle my roof and paint my house a couple times, until my balance, never good, got worse and I fell off the ladder from full extension. Twice. I’m a slow learner.

OTOH, didn’t those people believe in railings? There is no way I would go there! Maybe you should consider some ruins closer to the ground, like Tenochtitlan, which got flattened mostly to become Mexico City.

Been there, echo what others said. Do go. It really is as stunningly beautiful as it appears in photos.

Thank you, I am considering trying Cognitive-Behavior Therapy to reduce (greatly or not, any reduction would be welcome) my phobia, both for this trip and for other reasons.