The Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a 3-day, 2-night adventure that highlights the best of the Sacred Valley, the Short Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu. On this unforgettable trip to Machu Picchu, you will explore local markets, learn about the traditions and culture of Peru, visit ancient archaeological sites, and enjoy the stunning landscapes.

This once-in-a-lifetime journey is perfect for anyone who wants to experience the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the two-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in a short time. Immerse yourself in history, culture, and nature on this inspiring and exciting expedition.

Price

Trip Details

Tour Type Small Group tour
Duration 3 Days 2 Nights
Activities Trekking, Culture, Adventure
Average Group Size 12 people
Difficulty Easy to Moderate
Accommodation Hotels
Tour Language English, Spanish
Destinations Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu

Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 3 days

This three-day adventure to Machu Picchu will allow you to explore the best of the Cusco region. You’ll learn about the rich culture and traditions of the Peruvian people by visiting local markets and ancient Inca sites, which offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of this unique culture.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, located between Cusco and Machu Picchu, is a stunningly beautiful area with impressive Inca Sites and breathtaking scenery. This place is rich in history and provides a great way to connect with the past while enjoying the beauty of the Andes mountains.

For those who want to experience the highlights of the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu without committing to a multi-day hike, the Short Inca Trail is the perfect option. This trail offers a shorter version of the main route, giving you a taste of the excitement and beauty of the longer trail in less time.

The highlight of this adventure is arriving at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, where you’ll get your first and most amazing view of the Lost Inca Citadel. You will have the opportunity to enjoy Machu Picchu at both sunset and sunrise, making for an unforgettable experience.

Tour Highlights:

  • Explore the best of Sacred Valley with Maras & Moray.
  • Hike the Short Inca Trail and visit the Sun Gate.
  • Visit Machu Picchu twice (at sunset and sunrise).
  • Board the Panoramic Vistadome trains.

Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail at a Glance:

Day 1: Super Sacred Valley Tour - Ollantaytambo

  • 7:00 AM: Departure from the hotel
  • Places we visit (AM): Alpaca Farm, Mirador of Taray, Pisaq Inca site, and Pisac market
  • Buffet Lunch in a local restaurant in Urubamba
  • Places we visit (PM): Moray terraces, Salineras of Maras, and Ollantaytambo
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Includes Transportation, entry fees, and lunch.

Day 2: Ollantaytambo - Km 104 - Sun Gate - Machu Picchu

  • Early Morning: Breakfast and hotel pick-up
  • Expedition Train to Km 104 (Chachabamba)
  • Places we visit: Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Sun Gate, Machu Picchu
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,720m / 8,923ft.
  • Hiking Distance: 13km / 8.1 miles.
  • Hiking Duration: 6 - 7 hours.
  • Meals: Box Lunch, snacks, dinner.
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel
  • Difficulty: Moderate.

Day 3: Explore Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco

  • Morning: Breakfast and bus to Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour: 3-4 hours in Machu Picchu.
  • Optional hikes: Huayna Picchu or Montaña (not included).
  • Transportation: Vistadome Train and private van back to Cusco
  • Meals: Breakfast.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

Included:

  • All transportation included during 3 days
  • Super Sacred Valley tour with Maras Moray
  • Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour
  • Admission tickets to the Sacred Valley
  • Inca Trail and Machu Picchu entries
  • Professional tour guide for 3 days
  • 1-night 3-star hotel in Ollantaytambo
  • 1 night 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Expedition train from Ollantaytambo to Km 104
  • Vistadome Panoramic train back to Ollantaytambo
  • 2 lunches, 2 breakfasts, 1 dinner
  • 3 bus tickets in Machu picchu

Not Included:

  • Meals not mentioned itinerary
  • Huayna Picchu Tickets: USD 68 per person
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: USD 68 per person
  • Travel Insurance

Full Itinerary of Sacred Valley + Short Inca Trail 3 days

Day 1: Sacred Valley tour - Ollantaytambo

Our tour guide will meet you at your hotel in Cusco at 7:00 am for a full-day exploration of the Sacred Valley, including Maras and Moray. The journey begins with a 30-minute drive to the Alpaca Center, where we will interact with llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas while learning about their importance to Andean culture.

Next, we'll drive to the Mirador of Taray, which offers breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley, the Urubamba River, and the Andes Mountains. We'll then visit the Pisac Inca site, known for its stunning agricultural terraces and ancient constructions. We will continue the tour to the lower village of Pisac, where we'll explore the bustling handicraft market. After bargaining at the market, we'll travel and enjoy a buffet lunch at an Andean restaurant in Urubamba.

After lunch, our tour continues to the agricultural laboratory of Moray and the Salineras of Maras, where locals have been harvesting salt using traditional techniques since Incan times. The tour will conclude with a visit to the town of Ollantaytambo, a living testament to Inca culture, where we can explore ancient streets still used by locals. We'll spend the night in a hotel near the town.

  • Highest altitude: 3300m / 10925ft
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Meals: Buffet Lunch
  • Accommodation: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Transportation, entry fees, and lunch included

Day 2: Ollantaytambo - Km 104 - Sun Gate - Machu Picchu

After breakfast, we will pick you up from your hotel around 5:30 AM and board one of the first trains to the Inca Trail at Km 104 (Chachabamba). The train ride, taking around 1.2 hours, moves from the highlands into the cloud forest. Upon arrival at Km 104 (Chachabamba), we will disembark, cross a hanging bridge, and reach the first checkpoint, where you must show your original passports. Then, we will prepare for the trek.

The Short Inca Trail begins with a guided tour of the Chachabamba Inca site, followed by a 3 to 4-hour gradual ascent to Wiñay Wayna, the most famous Inca site along the Classic Inca Trail. Our tour guide will lead you through the most important buildings, including temples, waterfalls, storehouses, and agricultural terraces, and we will enjoy an organized box lunch at the nearby campsite.

The second part involves a more leisurely 1-hour hike to the Sun Gate, where we will be greeted with our first and most spectacular views of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, the Urubamba River, and the Andes Mountains. We will spend some time enjoying the sunset over Machu Picchu. Then, we will continue to the upper part of Machu Picchu for another hour to capture magnificent photographs with fewer visitors in the afternoon.

Lastly, there is a 30-minute bus drive to the town of Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). Dinner is served in a local restaurant, and we will spend the night in a 3-star hotel.

  • Highest altitude: 2720m / 8923ft
  • Distance: 15km / 8 miles
  • Duration: 6 to 7 hours
  • Meals: Lunch, snacks, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Chakana (or Similar)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Day 3: Explore Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco

On the last day of the tour, we will explore the 'Lost City of the Incas,' Machu Picchu. After breakfast at the hotel, we will board one of the first buses and arrive at Machu Picchu before sunrise. During the guided tour, we will spend about 3 hours exploring Machu Picchu, visiting the main temples, palaces, farming terraces, and most important buildings. We will also have time to explore on our own or participate in an additional mountain hike, such as Huayna Picchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Mountain (not included - permits need to be booked in advance).

After visiting Machu Picchu, we will return by bus to Aguas Calientes, enjoy lunch (not included), and then board the afternoon Vistadome Panoramic trains back to Ollantaytambo. Our team will wait for you there and take you back to your hotel in Cusco by private vehicle. The expected arrival time is around 7:30 PM.

  • Highest altitude: 2400m / 7874ft
  • Duration: 3-4 hours tour in Machu Picchu
  • Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Sacred Valley + Short Inca Trail 3 Days Price

Price per person:

  • Adults: From US$ 660
  • Stud & Childen: From US$ 620

To book the Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you need to make an initial payment of US$200 per person. The remaining balance can be paid online or at our office in Cusco.

Student Discount:

  • US$ 40 off per person

All travelers under 17 will have a $40 discount. If you are 25 years old or under when traveling, you can get the discount with your Student ID. Please send us an email to receive a code for the discount.

Valid Student ID

To get the student discount, travelers should have a Valid ID with the following:

  • 25 years or less at the time of entering Machu Picchu. Older than 25 can not enter as a student
  • The ID must have the Name of the university, name, and photo of the student
  • The ID must have a valid expiration date
Machu Picchu Valid Student ID TreXperience

Invalid Student IDs

Student IDs are not eligible for a discount when:

  • Traveler is older than 25
  • Expired ID
  • Student ID without expiration date
  • ISIC cards are not valid.
Invalid student ID for Machu Picchu TreXperience

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Ultimate Packing List for the Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail tour

The 3-day adventure tour to Machu Picchu combines two famous tours in Cusco: the Sacred Valley and the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. To fully enjoy this tour, it's important to understand the logistics, the places where we stay, and how to manage your luggage.

For our group departures, you need to book a hotel in Cusco to participate in the tour. If you prefer a private tour, you can stay at any location in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. However, the ideal location for this tour is always Cusco.

The Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail will take you from Cusco to the Sacred Valley by car, and then you will be involved in hiking along the Short Inca Trail until you reach Machu Picchu. You will not be able to travel with all your luggage. We recommend storing your luggage at your hotel if you are returning there after the tour, or you can also store it at TreXperience if you will be changing hotels.

You will only travel with a small carry-on bag, or we can provide a duffle bag where you can pack all necessary equipment, clothes, and toiletries for the 3-day tour.

Here is a detailed packing list for each day of the tour:

Sacred Valley Tour

We will collect you from your hotel in Cusco. Your main big luggage can be stored at your hotel, as most hotels in Cusco offer free luggage storage. If you are returning to a different hotel after the 3-day Machu Picchu tour, we recommend storing your luggage with us.

You will board our transportation with a small carry-on or a duffle bag that you will leave in the car, and a small backpack. In the backpack, you will carry all essentials for the day as we will be participating in short hikes at archaeological sites and markets:

  • Comfortable shoes for hiking
  • Layered clothing for changeable weather
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Water and snacks
  • Extra cash

Short Inca Trail

After breakfast at your hotel in Ollantaytambo, we will pick you up and transfer you to the train station in Ollantaytambo, where we will board the train to Km 104 (Inca Trail Chachabamba). The carry-on or duffle bags can be sent directly to your hotel in Aguas Calientes; these bags must weigh around 5 kilos. Large luggage is not allowed by the train company.

You will hike the Inca Trail with a small backpack containing the following equipment:

  • Passport
  • Comfortable hiking shoes
  • Layered, lightweight clothing
  • Long-sleeve shirt, rain jacket/poncho
  • Hat/cap, sunglasses
  • Water bottle/hydration system for 2 liters
  • Snacks/energy bars
  • Sunscreen, insect repellent
  • Extra cash
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • Plastic bags (for trash or wet items)

At the end of the day, we will arrive in Aguas Calientes where you will find your carry-on or duffle bag. Please note that you can also hike with all your belongings. If you wish to transfer a small carry-on by train, please request this service in advance.

Tour Machu Picchu

After a restful night, you will enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then travel to Machu Picchu by bus. You need to check out from the hotel and store your carry-on or duffle bag there. After the tour in Machu Picchu and before boarding the train, you will need to return to the hotel to pick up your belongings. It is important to collect all your belongings and transfer back to Cusco.

Here is a list of items to take with you for the day:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Lightweight clothing
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Sun protection
  • Small daypack
  • Water (at least 1 liter)
  • Snacks/energy bars
  • Passport
  • Extra cash
  • Toilet paper/tissues

The Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail tour will finish back at your hotel in Cusco. You need to book a hotel in Cusco city for the 3rd night. We strongly recommend booking flights or buses for a day later due to unforeseen train delays that sometimes occur.

Travel Information

Join an unforgettable journey through the Sacred Valley and the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Explore ancient ruins, colorful markets, and charming villages in the Sacred Valley. Then, hike the Inca Trail, enjoying stunning views and fascinating sites, ending with the breathtaking Machu Picchu. This tour offers a mix of adventure and culture, creating a fantastic experience you will never forget.

 

Places we visit

Sacred Valley

  • Alpaca Center At the Alpaca Center, we will learn about llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas. You will have the chance to interact with these animals and understand their importance to Andean culture.
  • Mirador of Taray The Mirador of Taray offers breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley, the Urubamba River, and the Andes Mountains, making it a perfect spot for photos.
  • Pisac Inca Site The Pisac Inca site features stunning agricultural terraces and ancient constructions. Here, you can see how the Incas ingeniously adapted their farming practices to the mountainous terrain.
  • Pisac Market In the lower village of Pisac, you’ll explore a bustling handicraft market. This is a great place to find unique souvenirs and experience local culture.
  • Moray Moray is an archaeological site with circular terraces that the Incas used for agricultural experiments. It’s fascinating to see how they manipulated the land to grow different crops.
  • Salineras of Maras The Salineras of Maras are salt mines that have been in use since Incan times. Local families still harvest salt here using traditional techniques.
  • Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo is a living testament to Inca culture. You can explore ancient streets and ruins that are still used by locals today. It’s like stepping back in time.

Short Inca Trail

  • Km 104 (Chachabamba) This is the starting point of the Short Inca Trail. After disembarking the train, we’ll cross a hanging bridge and reach the first checkpoint, where we need to show our original passports.
  • Chachabamba Inca Site Our trail begins with a guided tour of the Chachabamba Inca site, which provides an introduction to Inca architecture and history.
  • Wiñay Wayna Wiñay Wayna is the most famous Inca site along the Short Inca Trail. It features temples, terraces, gardens, and waterfalls. We’ll spend some time here learning about its significance.
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku) The Sun Gate offers the first spectacular view of Machu Picchu. This is a highlight of the trek and a perfect moment to capture the beauty of the ancient citadel.

Machu Picchu

  • Main Temples and Palaces During our guided tour of Machu Picchu, we’ll visit the main temples, palaces, and farming terraces. These structures are a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Inca civilization.
  • Optional Mountain Hikes For those who want an extra challenge, there are optional hikes to Huayna Picchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Mountain. These hikes provide stunning panoramic views but require permits booked in advance.
How to Arrive in Cusco
  • By Air: Fly into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco. Direct flights are available from major cities like Lima, Arequipa, and international locations.
  • By Bus: Long-distance buses operate from Lima, Arequipa, and other cities to Cusco. The journey can be long but offers scenic views.
  • By Train: PeruRail and Inca Rail offer scenic train routes to Cusco from Puno and Arequipa. These trains are comfortable and picturesque.
Where to Stay

Cusco

  • Luxury: Belmond Hotel Monasterio, JW Marriott El Convento
  • Mid-Range: Tierra Viva Cusco Saphi, El Mercado
  • Budget: Pariwana Hostel Cusco, Kokopelli Hostel Cusco

Ollantaytambo

  • Luxury: Hotel Samanapaq, El Albergue Ollantaytambo
  • Mid-Range: Tikawasi Valley Hotel, Sol Natura Hotel
  • Budget: Chaska Wasi, Hostal Iskay

Aguas Calientes

  • Luxury: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
  • Mid-Range: Casa del Sol Machu Picchu, Tierra Viva Machu Picchu
  • Budget: Supertramp Hostel, Eco Machu Picchu Pueblo
Best Restaurants in Cusco
  • Cicciolina: A blend of Peruvian and international cuisine. It’s known for its fresh ingredients and creative dishes.
  • Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse is famous for its excellent meats and local dishes. It's a great place to try Peruvian steaks.
  • Chicha by Gaston Acurio: Offers traditional Peruvian cuisine with a modern twist. This restaurant is a must-visit for food enthusiasts.
  • Limo: Specializes in Peruvian-Japanese fusion. Its unique menu is a delight for those looking for something different.
Best Restaurants in Aguas Calientes
  • Indio Feliz Bistro: Known for its French-Peruvian cuisine. It’s a cozy place with delicious food.
  • Toto's House: Offers a variety of local and international dishes. It’s a good spot for a hearty meal.
  • The Tree House Restaurant: Focuses on fresh, local ingredients with a gourmet touch. Perfect for a special dinner.
  • Café Inkaterra: Serves organic and locally sourced meals. It’s a great place to have a relaxing meal after exploring Machu Picchu.
Best Restaurants in Ollantaytambo
  • El Albergue Restaurant: Farm-to-table dining with organic ingredients. It’s known for its fresh and delicious food.
  • Apu Veronica Restaurant: Famous for its traditional Peruvian dishes. It is a good place to experience local flavors.
  • Hearts Café: Offers healthy, homemade meals with a social cause. A portion of the proceeds goes to community projects.
  • Puka Rumi: Serves local dishes in a rustic setting. It’s a great place to enjoy traditional Peruvian food.

FAQs

Below, you will find the most commonly asked questions about the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu. You can combine this tour with city tours or upgrade to the entire 4-day Inca Trail. If you need assistance with your trip, contact us, and we will provide all the information you need.

What makes the Sacred Valley and Short Inca Trail special?

This tour is unique because it combines beautiful scenery, rich history, and a sense of adventure. In the Sacred Valley, you can explore ancient Inca sites and colorful markets. The Short Inca Trail offers a memorable hike with stunning views, leading you to the incredible Machu Picchu. This combination gives you a unique and unforgettable experience.

How long does it take to travel from Cusco to the Sacred Valley?

The trip usually takes about 1-2 hours by car or bus, depending on your destination within the valley. The journey is scenic and offers beautiful views of the Andes Mountains.

Can I visit the Sacred Valley and return to Cusco in one day?

Yes, a day trip is possible, but connecting Sacred Valley with Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail brings more considerable benefits, like staying in Ollantaytambo for one night, which is a charming town, and avoiding traveling back and forth.

Is the Short Inca Trail suitable for beginners?

Yes, the Short Inca Trail is suitable for beginners who are in good physical condition. It’s a moderate hike with some challenging sections, but it is manageable for most people.

How far in advance should I book the Short Inca Trail?

Due to limited permits, it’s best to book at least 4-6 months in advance. This ensures you secure your spot and have time to prepare for the trek.

What kind of food is available on the Sacred Valley Tour?

During the first day, we will include lunch. This will be served in a local restaurant in Urubamba. We work with top-rated restaurants like Don Angel, where they offer buffet-style meals using local products and a typical music show.

What kind of food is available on the Short Inca Trail?

You will be provided with an organic box lunch freshly made in Ollantaytambo. It’s a good idea to bring some snacks and water as well.

Are there toilets on the Short Inca Trail?

Basic toilet facilities are available at specific points along the trail, but they are pretty rustic. It's a good idea to bring some toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

What is the significance of Wiñay Wayna?

Wiñay Wayna is an important Inca site with agricultural terraces, temples, water fountains, and beautiful architecture. It’s often considered the highlight of the Short Inca Trail and offers stunning views.

Do I need to carry my backpack on the Short Inca Trail?

Yes, you’ll need to carry a small daypack with your essentials. Porters are not available for the Short Inca Trail, so pack light and bring only what you need.

Optional: you can send a small carry-on on the train directly to the hotel. This service must be requested in advance to TreXperience.

Can I visit Machu Picchu without hiking the Inca Trail?

Yes, you can take a train to Aguas Calientes and then a bus to Machu Picchu. This is a popular option for many visitors who prefer not to hike. We have several tours by train to Machu Picchu

How early should I arrive at Machu Picchu to see the sunrise?

Witnessing the sunrise at Machu Picchu is a fantastic experience; however, this is not guaranteed. To reach Machu Picchu before sunrise, plan to catch one of the first buses from Aguas Calientes, which starts running at 5:30 AM. Machu Picchu is located in a cloud forest area and has unpredictable weather—it can be sunny, cloudy, foggy, or rainy. 

To reach Machu Picchu before sunrise, you need to board one of the first buses from Aguas Calientes, which departs at 5:30 AM and arrives at Machu Picchu at 6:00 AM, when the gate opens.

Is there a place to store luggage at Machu Picchu?

Yes, there is luggage storage at your hotel, with TreXperience, or at the entrance to Machu Picchu, where you can leave larger bags. This allows you to explore the site without carrying heavy items.

Can I re-enter Machu Picchu on the same day with my ticket?

No, re-entry is not allowed with a standard ticket. Each entry ticket is valid for a single entry only, so plan your visit accordingly.

Which Machu Picchu circuit and route will I follow on the Inca Trail?

On the first day, you will arrive at the Machu Picchu viewpoint. Here, you will have the opportunity to take amazing photos of Machu Picchu with fewer people around and enjoy the sunset.

The next day, you will explore the center of Machu Picchu through Circuit 3, where you will visit the Temple of the Sun, the Ceremonial Fountains, the House of the King, and many more important buildings in Machu Picchu.

Can I hike the Short Inca Trail with young children?

While there is no age restriction for the Inca Trail, it is recommended for children over six years old. If they are younger, it is best to hire a personal porter to help carry them during steep parts. It’s important to take breaks and ensure the children are comfortable. Bring snacks and water to keep them energized.

What is the best way to acclimate to the altitude?

We recommend arriving in Cusco city 1 or 2 days before this tour. During these days, you can explore the Cusco city center and nearby attractions like Sacsayhuaman.

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