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Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – 2D/1N

Short Inca Trail Hike to Machu PicchuEmbark on an adventure of a lifetime and hike the Inca Trail in just 2 days! Yes, it’s very much possible. If you have limited time but you’ve got unlimited energy, motivation, and desire to go on a journey that transcends the boundaries of ordinary exploration, our Short Inca Trail 2 days tour is perfect for you!

This year, the Peruvian tourism authorities have expanded the daily permit allocation for this trek by an additional 200 permits. This means that there are more than enough slots for the rest of 2023, as well as 2024, for adventurers seeking to experience this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

This trek is not for the faint of heart but for those seeking adventure, cultural immersion, and the exhilaration of conquering high-altitude challenges.

Discover breathtaking landscapes, listen to stories of conquests, and walk in the footsteps of ancient people as you travel back in time. The ultimate reward of this arduous journey is the awe-inspiring arrival at Machu Picchu—the new 7th wonder of the world.

Are you ready for a short but action-packed and adrenaline-filled journey of a lifetime?

Here’s what our Short Inca Trail hike 2D1N looks like:


ITINERARY – Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Pre-trek briefing (required): We provide a full pre-trek briefing at our office or at your hotel in Cusco. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the trek itinerary.

Briefings are scheduled for the day before your trip starts. Please take this into consideration when booking your travel plans to Cusco, to ensure you arrive in time for the briefing.

DAY 1: Cusco – Chachabamba – Wiñay Wayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes

Leave hotel

The tour starts at 4:00 am in the morning, where we will collect you from your hotel in Cusco. You will be transferred in one of our mini-vans to the train station at Ollantaytambo. The train ride will last about two hours.

Explore the Chachabamba Ruins

Our stop at Kilometer 104, the trailhead of the Inca Trail, is where our Short Inca Trail adventure begins. As we pass through the Inca Trail checkpoint, the first archaeological site you will discover is the magnificent ruins at Chachabamba.

This ancient outpost served as a spiritual and agricultural center for the Incas, featuring well-preserved terraces, temples, and ritual structures. Our expert guide will share interesting facts and stories about these ancient ruins.

Hike the Inca stone steps

For about 3 hours of ascent, you will be climbing the original Inca stone steps while discovering and appreciating the unique ecosystems in the area. Your guide will help you identify the different types of flora and fauna along the trail.

Eat lunch at the Ruins of Wiñay Wayna

Coming shortly after a lovely cascading waterfall is the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. This archaeological site is named after an orchid that means “Forever Young”.

It boasts well-preserved Inca terraces, religious structures, and ceremonial baths, providing a practical waypoint for trekkers en route to Machu Picchu while offering a memorable glimpse into the rich history and ingenuity of the Inca people.

As we reach this destination by noon time, you will have your well-deserved lunch at the top of the ruins or somewhere around it while taking in the breathtaking views and sceneries around you.

Visit a temple

Part of the lunch break is a visit to a temple with 7 windows, each one representing the colors of the rainbow. You will get to observe the incredible engineering of the water channels that are still functional up to this day. After the temple tour, we will continue our hike for another 1 to 2 hours on a relatively flat section of trail.

Reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu Machu Picchu View from the Sun Gate

At around 3:00 p.m., we will reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu or what is locally called “Intipunku” in the Quechua language.

This marks the entrance to the Sacred City, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Intipunku serves as a symbolic and awe-inspiring threshold to the majestic wonder of Machu Picchu, creating a moment of anticipation and revelation as you complete your journey. Make sure to have your cameras ready at this point!

Take a bus to Aguas Calientes

We will give you time to enjoy the view, take lots of photos, and simply take in this memorable milestone that you’ve reached. Afterwards, we will make a final short walk down to the main entrance of the ruins where we will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes.

Check in at hotel and have dinner

As we arrive in Aguas Calientes, we will check you in at your hotel (Hatun Inti Classic Machu Picchu hotel) so you can rest and freshen up. Aguas Calientes is a charming town surrounded by lush greenery and features hot springs. You can have a quick dip in the hot springs if there is time available before dinner.

Dinner will be arranged at one of the best restaurants in town (Indio Feliz), where you and your group will all dine together to share food, drinks, and stories about your memorable day.

  • Meals: Box Lunch / Dinner
  • Accommodations: Hotel
  • Maximum altitude: 2,720 m/8,920 ft
  • Minimum Altitude: 2,040 m/6,691 ft
  • Distance to walk: 13 km/8 miles
  • Approximate walking time: 5-6 hours

DAY 2: Aguas Calientes –  Machu Picchu – Cusco

Eat breakfast

We will have an early breakfast at the hotel before we take the bus ride along the winding road to Machu Picchu. Our bus ride is scheduled at a time that will allow you to witness the magnificent sunrise over the Andes.

Site tour

During the two-hour tour of the site, you will get to listen and learn from our expert tour guides about interesting facts, history, and legends of Machu Picchu.

Our goal is to bring the city to life for you, enabling you to travel back through time and somehow experience the ancient culture and life of the Inca pilgrims. We will give you plenty of time for picture-taking and video filming.

Climb the Huayna Picchu Mountain (optional)

If you decide to climb the Huayna Picchu mountain, you will begin the hike at 10:00 a.m. Note that the price for hiking Huayna Picchu Mountain is not included in the trek price.

On the other hand, if you are not climbing the mountain, you will spend more time at Machu Picchu on your own before you return to Aguas Calientes by bus. Note that spending personal time in Macchu Pichu beyond the tour requires compliance with the rules imposed by the government and director of Machu Picchu.

Departure

As we return to Aguas Calientes, you will board the expedition train to either Poroy or Ollantaytambo. Then, you will be transferred to our minivan so you can get back to your hotel in Cusco. Your arrival time in Cusco will depend on the train schedule but is generally between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

That’s it! A short but exceptionally amazing Inca Trail tour that is definitely for the books—a journey you will never forget in your life.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Minimum altitude: 2,040 m/6,691 ft
  • Maximum altitude: 2,440 m/8,052 ft

INCLUDED

  • Professional English speaking guide. Additional guide for groups over 8 people.
  • Pre-trek briefing (a Short Inca Trail map is also provided during the briefing time)
  • Transportation from your hotel to Ollantaytambo
  • Expedition train from Ollantaytambo to KM 104
  • Bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes on day 1. Round trip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on day 2.
  • Expedition train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy or Ollantaytambo.
  • Transport by private car from Ollantaytambo or Poroy train station to Cusco.
  • Admission Ticket to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Archaeological site.
  • One-night accommodation at Hatun Inti Classic Machu Picchu hotel in Aguas Calientes (double occupancy)
  • 1 Box lunch, 1 dinner at Indio Feliz restaurant, 1 breakfast at the Hatun Inti Classic Machu Picchu hotel.
  • Private guided walking tour of Machu Picchu

NOT included:

  • Hiking poles (can be rented from us)
  • Breakfast on day 1 and lunch on day 2
  • Huayna Picchu Mountain permit (this ticket can be purchased for an extra USD $75 per person)
  • Tip for your guide
  • Travel Insurance (highly recommended)

Items to bring with you: Short Inca Trail

  • Backpack (if not waterproof bring waterproof backpack cover or a poncho that will cover your backpack)
  • Original passport
  • Sturdy Hiking boots
  • Sun protection: sunscreen (SPF 35+ recommended), sun hat, sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Rain poncho or a good rain jacket
  • Toiletries / small towel
  • Bathing clothes for the hot springs (optional)

SHORT INCA TRAIL PRICE & ADD-ONS

Group: USD $500 per person
Private: USD $560 per person

Group versus Private Treks: What’s the difference?

  • Depending on the number of people in your booking, additional people may join the trek to make a full group.
  • If you choose “private”, no additional people will be joining your group, no matter the size.
  • Minimum booking size is two people; one person may book a group trek if Action Peru Treks is able to join that person with additional groups.

Discounts

  • Under 18 years Discount: USD $20
  • Under 7 years Discount: USD $35

Rentals

  • Hiking poles – USD $10 (pair)

Upgrades

  • Return Vistadome train – USD $60 per person
  • Return Hiram Bingham train– USD $420 per person
  • Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (5-star hotel) – USD $255 Per person per night (double occupancy)
  • El Mapi Hotel by Inkaterra (4 star hotel) – USD $115 Per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Tierra viva Machu Picchu (3+ star hotel) – USD $50 Per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Single Hotel Room in Aguas Calientes – USD $45 per person

SHOR INCA TRAIL  2024 FAQs.

What is the Short Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu?

This Inca Trail is ideal for travelers who have limited time or want something less strenuous.

This hike starts at KM 104 of the Machu Picchu train line on a trail that leads to two archaeological sites Chachabamba and Wiñay Wayna. This hike also gives you the opportunity to enter the lost city via the famous Sun Gate, the dramatic entrance that provides Inca Trail trekkers with their first glimpse of the site.

Spend the night in Aguas Calientes and then wake up on Day 2 for a Machu Picchu tour.

Note also that we offer a short Inca Trail with Camping if you would like to spend the night in a tent rather than in a hotel.

Why Hiking the Short Inca Trail is so popular?

The Trail is a microcosm; lush green cloud forest alive with birds, Andean peaks and steep mountain passes, a landscape dotted with centuries old Inca ruins, accessible only to those that follow this most famous pathway.

However, as truly beautiful as the hike may be, the real reason for its popularity lies at the very end of this four-day adventure; passing through the famous Sun Gate for that first magical sighting of Machu Picchu in the distance.

Only Inca Trail hikers can access the gate early in the morning, and it is this crescendo, at one of the new seven wonders of the world which makes this hike a feature on so many ‘South America bucket lists’.

The Inca Trail is the best way to arrive at one of the world’s most iconic attractions.

What does this 2 day Inca Trail involve?

The Inca Trail involves an early bus and train ride from Cusco, followed by a three-four-hour uphill hike to the spectacular Inca site of Wiñay Wayna.

From there, you have a packed lunch before continuing for around two hours to reach the iconic Sun Gate where you get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu.

The trail then descends for about 45 minutes to reach the ruins. Rather than visiting Machu Picchu straight away, you take a bus to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes where you spend the night in a hotel, then return to the ruins the following morning for a guided tour.

In the afternoon of the second day, take the train and vehicle back to Cusco, arriving in the evening around 8 PM.

How far in advance should I reserve my permit for the Inca Trail?

Everyone should book their Inca Trail permit as far in advance as possible. The Inca trail permits are in super high demand as they do offer access to one of the top hiking trails on the planet!

It’s very common that permits for certain months of the year to sell out completely for the upcoming season in just a matter of days or hours.

On top of that, permits are non-refundable or transferable, so if any hikers who have purchased permits subsequently cancel them, they won’t become available again at a later date in the government system.

The Peruvian government releases all the permits in bulk throughout the month of October for the upcoming year.

For example, for a hike in 2024, you can expect permits to be released in October 2023.

The best way to ensure you’re in the running for your chosen trek date is to have your Inca Trail pre-booked for the upcoming year before the permits are released in October 2023.

A general rule to follow is to book permits for the Inca Trail at least six to eight months in advance to ensure trail availability for treks on the Inca Trail route.

How many Inca Trail permits are issued per day?

There are now 250 Inca Trail permits are available each day, around 50 of those are allocated to porters and guides, so in reality there are really only 200 permits a day for hikers.

These 250 permits were recently added by the Peruvian government for sole use on the Short Trail to Machu Picchu.

The two and one night Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is essentially the final day of the Classic Inca Trail route with some variations in the beginning of the hike.

Note: Once the permit has been issued, you can not alter or change any details, so be sure you get them correct from the start.

Does the Inca Trail trip include your Machu Picchu entrance ticket?

Yep, the cost of Machu Picchu entry is included in the trip price and it’s the responsibility of us to take care of all that and provide you with the ticket on the day you’re entering the site.

Is there a waiting list for sold out trekking dates?

No, there is no waiting list for permits. Permits are only available for purchase through the Peruvian government. Once a permit is purchased for one person, the permit cannot be refundable or transferred to another individual.

Is it possible to do without a tour company or guide?

Since June 2002 trekking independently on the Inca Trail has been prohibited. Access to the Inca Trail is strictly controlled by the Peruvian government and your trek must be organized through a tour operator.

Only specific licensed companies like Action Peru Treks are permitted to lead groups on the 5-day Inca Trail, 4-day Inca Trail and 2-day Inca Trail routes.

Companies must meet certain basic requirements proving that they have professional guides and good camping equipment, radio communications and emergency first aid including oxygen. Their license is renewed each year.

Is it possible to enter with different name?

No, you need to carry your valid ID (passport) to enter the trek park.

What is the 2 day Short Inca Trail Difficulty?

It’s a lot of hiking to cover in a day, and at high altitude, but it is achievable if you have a good level of fitness.

There will always be slower and faster hikers in your group but your guide will adjust his or her walking pace to make sure that everyone in your group is happy. The toughest part of the day is the three-hour walk uphill at the start, climbing rapidly from the Urubamba River to the Wiñay Wayna ruins. The Short Inca Trail may not be suitable for those who suffer from vertigo.

Before you start your trip, we recommend you arrive to Cusco at least two days in advance to help your body acclimate to the high altitude.

What do I need to carry on this Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek?

Travelers should carry only a small daypack with the items that they will need while hiking such as water, snacks, camera and film.

Our team will ship 6 kg of each of your personal extra gear to your Aguas Calientes hotel during the trip for free.

We generally ask clients to bring only the necessary items that you will need for the 2-day trip and leave any unneeded luggage at the hotel in Cusco or at our office in Cusco.

How big are the groups?

Our groups are usually small. Average is 3 to 5 people and maximum 16 people plus the trekking team.

Is there an age limit to hiking the Inca Trail?

Nope! we trust that you will gauge your own fitness levels when it comes to taking a trek of this nature. We have clients who are in their 80s that are fitter than many 30-year-olds.

Age is just a number if you are fit enough to do the trip, go for it! Children under 6 years old should not attempt to hike as they would likely find the trek too difficult.

What is the best time of year to hike the Inca Trail?

From April to October, it is usually warm and humid during the day (around 20-25ºC) and night time temperatures are around 15ºC.

The dry season lasts from May to September, when the weather is more changeable.

During the wet season, from October to April, it can rain heavily, although it can also rain year-round.

Is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu always open?

The Inca Trail is open 11 months of the year (March through January). It is closed every February for maintenance.

See the trek availability in real time here.

Are there toilets along the two day Inca Trail route?

Yes, there is one toilet at the start of the hike, halfway and at the end of the hike (Machu Picchu).

The first two toilets are free and the one by Machu Picchu has a cost of 2 soles.

What altitude does it reach?

The Short Inca Trail starts at 2,170 m / 7,170 ft and ascends to 2,720 m / 8,920 ft the Sun Gate, before descending to Machu Picchu which sits at an altitude of 2,040 m/6,691 ft.

The guides carry basic medical supplies, but as you will be in remote mountain areas, more advanced medical facilities are not available.

What is the food like on the 2 day Inca Trail?

A packed lunch is provided by us for the hike and this must be carried by yourself during the hike.

If you want other snacks during the trail, these can be bought in Cusco.Breakfast on the second day is included at the hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Breakfast on day one and lunch on day two are not included in this trip. For breakfast on day one, you will need to request a box breakfast from your Cusco hotel.

Lunch on the second day can be bought in a restaurant in Aguas Calientes before taking the return train to Cusco.

Vegetarian and vegan meals are also available upon request.

Other special dietary requests can usually be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.

Is drinking water supplied along the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Nope, you must bring your own dirking water for hiking our short Inca Trail 1 day hike and we recommend you bring at least 2 liters per person which will cover the hike of day one.

You can buy water in Aguas Calientes for your Machu Picchu visit on day two of the trip.

Note: there aren’t places to buy water along the hike so you must purchase your drinking water in Ollantaytambo or in Cusco before taking the train to the start of the hike.

What are the guides like?

Our team are among the very best and most experienced guides anywhere.

They are from the surrounding Cusco and the Sacred Valley areas and speak fluent English, in addition to Spanish and the Inca indigenous language of Quechua. Most have 8-10 years of experience leading Inca trail hikes and other alternative treks and all have training in the history, spirituality, culture, and ecology of the area.

How can I prepare for the Inca Trail?

The more training you do beforehand, the more you will enjoy your trek.

We recommend 30 minutes of cardio activities 3-4 times a week in the 2-3 months leading up to your departure. Take every opportunity to walk up and down stairs or hills for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness.

Are there any ATMs?

There are no ATMs along the Inca Trail. You should bring enough money with you from Cusco for any last-minute purchases before starting the hike or tips.

There are some ATMs in Aguas Calientes if you need to withdraw additional cash.

What if I have a medical emergency while hiking the Inca Trail?

Guides carry a first aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts/scrapes, etc.).

They receive Red Cross First Aid and other emergency training every year. Our guides lead over 1000 travelers along the Inca trail each year and we have rarely had a traveler unable to complete the hike.

In these rare instances when someone has not felt well enough to finish the hike, he/ she has been escorted back to the start of the hike and generally felt well enough to re-join the group in Aguas Calientes via train later in the day.

Aguas Calientes has the nearest modern medical facilities so travelers with a serious medical emergency would need to be evacuated there. Guides and porters have pre-established evacuation strategies in place should this need occur.

Is there internet access on the Inca Trail?

Nope, your last chance to use the internet or have a reliable phone signal will be in Ollantaytambo train station and your first opportunity will be at Machu Picchu or in Aguas Calientes.

How much money should you bring on the Inca Trail trek?

The vast majority of costs will be covered in the up-front price of your trip, but there are a few costs along the trip for which you’ll need to bring cash:

  • Snacks and drinks from stallholders in the train station of Ollantaytambo
  • Toilet entry fees (usually 2 soles at Machu Picchu)
  • Tips for your guides
  • Breakfast on day 1 and Lunch on day 2 at Aguas Calientes.

It’s sensible to take this money in the form of smaller notes and coins.

We’d say at least 250 soles per person for the Trail-specific section.

Will I get altitude sickness on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Many of the most popular places in Peru, such as Cusco and Huaraz, are at high altitude; this means that for anyone planning a trip to Peru understanding altitude sickness (and how to avoid it) is incredibly important.

In fact, not approaching altitude correctly is one of the biggest mistakes of travelers in South America.

The best way to minimize the likelihood and impact of altitude sickness is factoring in enough time into your Peru itinerary to acclimatize to the conditions.

This means that it is incredibly foolish to arrive in Cusco, which is at 3,339m (11,151 feet) above sea-level, and leave the next day to do a strenuous hike or even start the Inca Trail. Your body needs the time to adjust to the altitude!

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself and your body two easy days at altitude to acclimatize to the change, and to keep yourself well hydrated throughout.

What about medication?

Obviously, medical attention and facilities along the Inca Trail are pretty much non-existent so you need to bring any of your own required medication with you and keep it on your own person or in the daypack.

What climates can I expect on the Short Inca Trail?

Variance in latitude, elevation and local winds all factor into the wide range of climates experienced in the central Sierra/Andean Mountain region. Average temperatures in the Sierra vary little between seasons, but there is dramatic daily variance.

While the average daily temperature may only vary a few degrees Celsius between January and July, the diurnal (daily) temperature range is often huge.

You can expect daytime temperatures in the highlands to be in the range of 15-25°C (60 – 77 °F), falling as low as 10 °C (50°F) at night.

See the Inca Trail weather here.

How much time can I spend at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?

There are three time slots in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a maximum of four hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Admission is not allowed after 4pm.

Additionally, all visitors must always be accompanied by a guide.

The early morning is one of the best times to savour the views and atmosphere of Machu Picchu.

The mystical morning light over the enigmatic sites is spectacular. Try and catch the sunrise at the sanctuary, you won’t regret the early wakeup call!

Still Not Convinced to Hike This Trek?

Read here why you should hike this trek to Machu Picchu with us.

PRICE PER PERSON IN USD:
Group: $500
Private: $560
DURATION:
2 Days / 1 Night

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