The Short Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu, which lasts two days and one night, is a unique experience. This premium tour includes Panoramic Vistadome trains, hiking the Iconic Inca Trail, and ending at the amazing Machu Picchu Citadel. You'll start the hike at Km 104 and explore the beautiful archaeological sites of Chachabamba and Wiñaywayna. When you arrive at Sun Gate in the afternoon of day 1, you'll get the first and most amazing view of Machu Picchu.

We will take you to Machu Picchu twice, once in the afternoon of day 1 and again in the morning of day 2. Join our fun, small group of travelers from all over the world and all ages to make your trip truly unforgettable. Our knowledgeable guides will add to your experience by teaching you interesting things about Inca history and culture, and our excellent services will make sure you are comfortable and have a great time.

Ready to write your own unforgettable story? Book your trip with TreXperience today and see the magic of Machu Picchu for yourself!

Overview - Short Inca Trail 2 days to Machu Picchu

The Short 2-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is a unique opportunity for those who may not have as much time to hike the entire Classic Inca Trail. This trek combines highlights of the 4-day Inca Trail with some of the most beautiful Inca sites in the dense cloud forest. Enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate (Intipunku) late in the afternoon and have the unique opportunity to see Machu Picchu with fewer crowds.

The Inca Trail short version, a two-day hike to Machu Picchu, is perfect for solo travelers, couples, groups of friends, and families with children. It is only one day of hiking, and the next day, you will explore Machu Picchu.

The Short Inca Trail includes breathtaking views from the Sun Gate, fewer crowds, and an intimate connection with Inca history and nature. The tour also offers small group sizes for personalized service, professional guides, and panoramic Vistadome trains for your return journey, ensuring comfort and an enriching experience.

Tour Highlights:

  • Arrive at Machu Picchu twice at exclusive hours
  • Enjoy the best view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate (Intipunku)
  • Return on the Panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°)
  • Small-group tours for a personalized service

Short Inca Trail at a Glance

Day 1: Cusco - Inca Trail - Machu Picchu (13 km, 7 hrs)

  • 4:00 am departure from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
  • 6:00 am Expedition Train to Km 104 (Chachabamba) and start the hike
  • 8:00 am start the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
  • Visit Chachabamba and Wiñay Wayna before lunch
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate
  • Overnight in Aguas Calientes at a 3-star hotel

Day 2: Explore Machu Picchu — Return to Cusco

  • Breakfast at the hotel and bus to Machu Picchu
  • Early morning guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Optional hikes to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
  • Panoramic Vistadome train to return
  • Arrive in Cusco around 7.30 pm, back in your hotel

Included:

  • Safety briefing the day before the tour
  • Hotel pickup and drop off
  • Professional Tour Guide
  • All transportation during the tour
  • Train to Km 104 (Expedition or Voyager)
  • Return on the panoramic Vistadome Train or 360°
  • Bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes (Day 1)
  • Round trip bus to Machu Picchu (Day 2)
  • Entry tickets to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
  • 1 night 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • 1 Box Lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast
  • Satellite phones, first-aid kit, oxygen supply
  • Complimentary luggage storage
  • All taxes and booking fees

Not Included:

  • Breakfast on day 1 and lunch on day 2
  • Entry to Huayna Picchu Mountain
  • Entry to Machu Picchu Mountain
  • Travel Insurance

Optional hikes after Machu Picchu Tour:

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain: You can hike this mountain after the Machu Picchu guided tour, which takes 2 hours roundtrip. You need to book far in advance, and the cost is 68$.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: Also called Montaña, it is the highest mountain. The trip is almost 3 hours round trip, and you need to book in advance. The cost is $68$.

Why book with TreXperience?

  • Local Expert: Get the best prices and best service with a 100% Peruvian company
  • Expert Tour Guides: Our tour guides are professionals and fluent in English
  • Exclusive Hotels: We work with top-rated 3-star hotels in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo)
  • Panoramic Trains: We are the only company that includes Panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°)
  • We offer a glamping option: The Short Inca Trail with camping
  • Book with Confidence and Flexibility

Short Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu Full Itinerary

Day 1: Cusco - Km 104 - Machu Picchu

You will be picked up from your hotel in Cusco around 4:00 a.m. (depending on the hotel location) and driven to the Ollantaytambo train station. If your hotel is located in the Sacred Valley or near Ollantaytambo, the pick-up could be around 5:30 a.m.

For the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it is recommended that you stay the day before somewhere closer to the train station in Ollantaytambo; this way, you can save 1.5 hours of travel from Cusco. If you participate in a tour like Sacred Valley the day before, you can request the drop-off in Ollantaytambo and spend the night in a hotel. TreXperience will pick you up from any location near Ollantaytambo or Cusco.

From Cusco, it’s a one-hour, 30-minute bus ride to the train station in Ollantaytambo, where we will board the first trains and travel along the Urubamba River until we arrive at Km 104—Chachabamba (located in the cloud forest). We will head straight to the checkpoint at Chachabamba to start our Short Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu. Please note that you will need the original passports to pass the checkpoint.

Our first stop is the beautiful Inca site of Chachabamba, where our expert tour guide will introduce you to Inca history and Machu Picchu. After exploring the site, we will hike along an ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for about 7 hours.

The first section of the Short Inca Trail is a gradual uphill hike for 4 hours until we arrive at Wiñaywayna (the place that never gets old); this is one of the most beautiful Inca sites on the Classic Inca Trail. We will take some time to explore this stunning archaeological site while enjoying spectacular views of the Andes. A packed lunch and refreshments will be provided; once fed and energized, we will continue our hike to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) to catch our first glimpse of Machu Picchu Citadel – a truly unforgettable sight. We will arrive at Sun Gate around 3 to 4 p.m. when the crowds from Machu Picchu have left, allowing us to enjoy this place with few people.

Next, we will hike for another one hour downhill from the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu viewpoints, which have breathtaking views. We will arrive at Machu Picchu in the afternoon and have the unique opportunity to experience the citadel almost empty. This day is the perfect photo opportunity! Then, we will take the bus to Aguas Calientes, have dinner in a local restaurant, and spend the night in a 3-star hotel.

Dinner will be served in top-rated restaurants in the town, and our hotel is also located on exclusive sites. It has a private bathroom, hot showers, WiFi, and beautiful views.

  • Hiking Distance: 13 km / 8 mi
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Highest altitude: 2,700 m / 8,858 ft (Sun Gate)
  • Meals: Lunch, snacks, and dinner
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Day 2: Explore Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco

On the final day of the Short Inca Trail hike, we will get up early and prepare for the highlight of the tour: visiting Machu Picchu—the Lost City of the Incas. Breakfast will be served in the hotel, and we will board the first buses to Machu Picchu. Arriving as the sky brightens, we will visit the city’s incredible views. On a clear day, we can watch the spectacular sunrise over Machu Picchu.

Our guide will take you on a 2-to-3-hour comprehensive tour of the city before leaving us in Machu Picchu to explore on our own or take an extra hike to either Huayna Picchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Montaña (tickets must be booked well in advance). We will explore Machu Picchu's most remarkable places with a private tour guide, visit the temples, palaces, and farming terraces, and learn about the city's history.

Optional: After the Machu Picchu tour, you can hike down to Aguas Calientes using the Hiram Bingham original trail. On the way, you will visit the Machu Picchu Museum and the butterfly station and enjoy fantastic views.

After the tour of Machu Picchu, we will take the bus back to Aguas Calientes for lunch. You will have time to explore the town, choose a restaurant of your preference, and buy souvenirs in the local market. Later in the afternoon, you will board the Panoramic train (Vistadome or 360°) and bus back to Cusco. The TreXperience Team will meet you off the train and return you safely to our hotel. Our arrival time to Cusco is around 7:30 p.m.

  • Tour Duration: 2-3 hours exploring Machu Picchu
  • Machu Picchu Altitude: 2,430 m / 7,972 ft
  • Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Ultimate Packing List for the Inca Trail 2 days

During the two days on the Short Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, remember that porters will not help you carry your belongings, so you should try to pack as lightly as possible. We recommend you bring a good-quality, light, and comfortable daypack.

If you require a personal porter, you can request one when booking for an extra charge. However, we do not recommend it, as we can even send some of your belongings directly to the hotel by train at no cost (it needs to be requested in advance).

Below, you will find a comprehensive packing list for the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which includes two days and one night at a hotel.

Essentials for the Short Inca Trail:

  • Daypack: It must be lightweight and comfortable, with enough room to carry water, snacks, and clothes. Due to local regulations, it should not exceed 25 liters. However, this is not just about the capacity of your backpack; ensure that on day 2 at Machu Picchu, your pack looks small. You can store some items at the hotel for the Machu Picchu tour.
  • Original passport (a copy will not be accepted): Passports must be valid for 6 months beyond the travel dates to Peru.
  • Valid Student Card (if you booked as a student): The original student card must be issued by the university and is valid for students up to the age of 25. It must contain the following: university information, personal information of the student, a photo of the student, and a valid date no later than December 31 of the year of travel.
  • Hiking boots: For the Short Inca Trail is highly recommended. Bring a broken-in, comfortable shoes.
  • Water storage: Ensure you have at least 2 liters of water, either in a camel bag or water bottle(s). A 1-liter water bottle works well, but you will need two of them to meet the 2-liter requirement. Plastic disposable bottles are prohibited in Machu Picchu, so make sure you have reusable containers.
  • Trekking Poles are recommended only for day 1 of the Inca Trail portion. Due to local restrictions, they are not allowed at Machu Picchu.
  • Rain gear: No matter what season you travel in, always have a rain jacket and poncho with you. Machu Picchu is located in the cloud forest and has the most unstable weather.
  • Buff or bandana: We will be hiking in warm weather and intense sun.
  • Hat or Cap: Choose a comfortable, lightweight hat or cap that's easy to pack and store. Avoid bringing bulky items.
  • Sunglasses: Bring comfortable sunglasses suitable for hiking with good UV protection.

Clothing:

  • 2 t-shirts: Long-sleeved preferred
  • 2 Hiking Pants/Trousers: One for the Inca Trail and one for Machu Picchu the next day
  • Underwear and socks: Best if they are moisture-wicking
  • Change of clothes: Enough for 2 days of tour
  • Warm Layers: Early mornings are cold; you need layers to remove quickly when you are hiking
  • Swimsuit (optional): For hot springs in Machu Picchu Pueblo

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper or wet wipes

Accessories and Food:

  • Camera, fully charged phones
  • Extra batteries for Machu Picchu
  • Snacks, power bars, chocolates
  • Extra money for souvenirs, drinks, and tips during the Short Inca Trail

First Aid Kit:

  • Pain Relievers: Such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Band-aids: For minor cuts and blisters.
  • Sunscreen: The sun is very strong in the cloud forest.
  • Insect Repellent: To prevent insect bites.
  • Aloe Vera Gel: For minor burns or sunburn.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: For itching or rashes.
  • Bandage: For sprains or strains.
  • Moleskin: To prevent and treat blisters.

Packing Tips:

  • Pack Light: No porter assistance, so focus on essentials.
  • Reusable Containers: Ensure all water storage is reusable.
  • Health Essentials: Don't forget personal medication and first aid items.

Sending a Carry-on directly to the hotel:

You can send a small carry-on bag directly to the hotel in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). The bag must weigh a maximum of 5 kilos per person. If you don't have extra luggage or bags, we can provide a duffle bag.

Make sure that you carry all the essentials for the day in your backpack. In the carry-on, you will only put clothes for the next day, toiletries, or anything that you don't need during the day.

If you want to send a carry-on bag, please advise in advance after booking the Short Inca Trail to get all permissions to transfer the bags by train.

Price for the Short Inca Trail 2 Days tour

We organize small group tours to ensure a personalized and intimate travel experience. For those traveling with a large party or seeking an exclusive adventure, we offer private Inca Trail tours tailored specifically to your preferences. Contact us today, and we'll provide a customized price and design the perfect tour to meet your needs, ensuring an unforgettable journey.

Price per person:

  • From US$ 498 - Adults
  • From US$ 458 - Children and students

To book the 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 US$40 discount. If you are under 25 years old when traveling to Machu Picchu, you can get the discount with your Student ID. Please email us to receive the code for the discount: Info@trexperienceperu.com.

Valid Student ID for the Short Inca Trail and Machu Picchu:

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

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

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Short Inca Trail 2 Days Frequently Asked Questions

When most people think of the Inca Trail, they think of the long, classic 4-day trek to Machu Picchu. But many don't realize that a shorter version of the trail can be completed in just 2 days. This shorter trail, often referred to as the Short Inca Trail, Royal Inca Trail, Inca Trail Express, or Inca Trail 2 Days is an excellent option for those who want to experience the Inca Trail but don't have 4 days to spare.

Below are the most common questions asked for the Short Inca Trail 2 days to Machu Picchu.

How can I book the Short Inca Trail?

First and foremost, it is crucial that permits are available. Unfortunately, the Inca Trail booking system is not linked to any private websites, so live availability cannot be viewed online. After making your reservation online, please allow approximately 24 hours for final approval of your booking.

For faster Inca Trail permits, consider booking with a tour operator from Cusco, such as TreXperience. We have access to live availability as well as expertise and knowledge to process quickly and efficiently. All permits must be purchased with cash at the Machu Picchu ticketing office in Cusco; only then is your trip 100% confirmed!

Steps for Booking an Inca Trail:

  • Choose Your Travel Dates: Select travel dates based on your itinerary and flight availability.
  • Submit Your Booking Request: Use our secure system to submit your request, then wait up to 24 hours for manual confirmation from our booking team (weekdays only).
  • Confirm Hotels; Flights: After the tour operator's final confirmation, you can book flights and hotels in Cusco. Make sure you arrive around two days before the Inca Trail hike.
  • Prepare for the hike: Prepare to hike the Inca Trail and get all the gear needed for the trek.

Due to Peru's stringent permit booking policy for the Inca Trail, all bookings must be confirmed manually - this process may take up to 24 hours on weekdays!

Why do I need to pay an initial deposit?

Permits for the Inca Trail can only be acquired from authorized local tour operators under strict conditions. We must purchase permits under specific travelers' names and passport numbers; any changes thereafter can only be done via updated passport numbers.

To book this trek, an initial payment of $200 per person is required. This payment covers purchasing permits, train tickets, and hotels.

When can I pay the remaining balance?

The balance can be paid online with any credit card up to 6 days before your departure date with no fees. If you plan to pay in cash, you can pay at our office, conveniently located in the center of Cusco, right in front of the Machu Picchu office.

Can I change the dates of my original booking?

Unfortunately, Inca Trail permits are non-refundable and non-transferable. Once the permit is booked, we can not change dates, get a refund, or cancel the permits. Our company allows date changes in case of force majeure (like strikes or global pandemics), events, or travel restrictions that directly affect the tour or prevent you from arriving on your tour dates.

If your travel dates need to change, please let us know. Our team will do everything in its power to find an accommodating solution that best meets your new plans. Contact us at info@trexperienceperu.com.

Where can I store my luggage?

There are no porters during the Short Inca Trail; you will only travel with a small backpack and all equipment for 2 days. The rest of your luggage must stay in Cusco. You can store at:

  • In your hotel: If you return to the same hotel after the trek, we recommend storing your bags in your hotel. Most hotels in Cusco can store your bags at no charge.
  • With TreXperience: If you return to a different hotel after the trek, we recommend storing your bags with us. We have a safe room to store all your bags, and we will deliver them to the new hotel after the tour.

Where should I stay before the Short Inca Trail?

Try to arrive in Cusco City at least 2 days before your Inca Trail hike starts. This will help your body adjust to the higher elevation, making your trip more pleasant.

Best Places to stay before the Inca Trail:

  1. Cusco City: Book a hotel near the center of Cusco, which is easily accessible. During the first days, you can explore the city and its surroundings.
  2. Sacred Valley (Near Urubamba or Ollantaytambo): We highly recommend staying in Ollantaytambo. It is close to the train station, reducing travel time on the day of your trek. It's about a 1.5-hour trip from Cusco and offers a charming setting with Inca ruins and a peaceful atmosphere.

Logistics and Briefing:

  • Hotel is in Cusco: You will come to our office for the safety briefing, and the pick up on the day of the tour will be around 4.00 am.
  • Hotel in Sacred Valley: When you arrive in Cusco, you can come to our office for the briefing, or we can arrange an online briefing with your tour guide. The Pick up for the tour will be after 5:00 am.

To stay in the Sacred Valley before the Inca Trail, we suggest arriving first in Cusco City. Take time to explore Cusco, Sacsayhuaman, and Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun). Next, travel to the Sacred Valley and explore Pisac, Maras, and Moray. Stay at Ollantaytambo to end your tour - this charming town is located near the train station. By choosing this option, you will explore more and travel less.

Where Can I Stay After the Short Inca Trail?

After finishing the Short Inca Trail, you must head back to Cusco City. Most day tours, buses, and flights depart from here; alternatively, you could choose to spend some time relaxing in the Sacred Valley.

Allow at least one day after hiking to Machu Picchu for relaxation in Cusco. You can explore the famous San Pedro Market or museums or simply relax in your hotel; this free day will help your body recover. Some day tours, such as Rainbow Mountain, will start very early from Cusco, so it is better to be well-rested in Cusco.

How challenging is the Short Inca Trail?

The Short Inca Trail is 13 kilometers long (8 miles) and is considered moderately challenging. Its elevation gain is 2,000 feet (600 meters), and there are some steep parts and stairs. However, most people can finish the hike without any major problems.

If you can walk for six to seven hours on uneven terrain without any problems, the Inca Trail shouldn't be too hard for you to finish. With an elevation of 2,700 meters (8,858 feet), it's important to get ready for your hike and allow your body to get used to the altitude.

As with any adventure tour, there are risks. Bring lots of water and food with you on your trip, and make sure you have the right hiking boots on. Also, keep an eye on your surroundings so you don't take any needless risks.

How many spots are available every day?

The Short Inca Trail sells slower than the Classic Version. Each day, 250 permits are available for travelers, tour guides, porters, and cooks (if requested) on the Short Inca Trail.

The Short Inca Trail does not require porters or chefs, but we can provide them on request and at an extra charge. You can upgrade your tour with a picnic breakfast, lunch, or luxury version.

Book ahead to hike the Short Inca Trail, especially in the high season from April to September when permits might sell out rapidly and your ideal dates may be unavailable.

Can I enter the Short Inca Trail by myself?

You can't go on the Short Inca Trail by yourself. The government of Peru states that all hikers must be with a licensed tour guide and book their trip through a licensed tour company like TreXperience. This rule protects the trail and keeps all hikers safe.

Do I need a tour guide to hike to Machu Picchu?

You can hike the Short Inca Trail without chefs and porters, but you can not enter without a tour guide. You must have a licensed tour guide for the inca Trail and Machu picchu.

The Peruvian government requires that all Inca Trail hikers enter with a licensed tour guide. Tour guides must have a current first aid certificate and training in history and Machu Picchu. This regulation helps protect the trail's natural and archaeological heritage and ensures the safety and health of all hikers.

What is the weather like?

The Short Inca Trail is located in the cloud forest area where the weather is usually warm and humid. However, the weather at Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail can change a lot from day to day. It can be sunny, cloudy, or rainy in the early morning or late afternoon, and then change in a matter of minutes.

The weather in the Andes and Machu Picchu are divided into 2 main seasons:

  • Dry season (April to October): The weather stays more stable at this time of year, with warm days and cooler nights. 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) is the temperature range during the day, and 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F) is the temperature range at night.
  • Wet Season (November to March): It rains more often in the afternoon during the wet season. Daytime temperatures stay about the same as they were during the dry season. However, humidity rises a lot, and raindrops may make the roads slippery. 

Please remember that it can rain at any time of the day or year, even when it seems like it won't last. If you're going to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, you should always bring rain gear and sun protection. This will ensure that you are safe and comfortable no matter what the weather is like.

When is the best time of the year to hike the Short Inca Trail?

The Short Inca Trail is open all year round except February. The best time to hike it is from April to October. During these months, the weather is typically dry and sunny, providing ideal conditions for hiking.

We have hikers all year round, and every season has its pros and cons. If you travel during the rainy season, you might encounter good weather as well. The best part is that Machu Picchu will be less crowded, and the trail will be beautiful since it’s the blooming season for orchids.

If you travel during the dry season, you will have great weather. However, occasional rains can occur at any time of the year. We recommend hiking the Short Inca Trail at any time during the year. Just bring proper equipment, and you will enjoy the hike despite the weather conditions.

What is the difference between the Short Inca Trail and the Classic Inca Trail?

The Short Inca Trail is perfect for people who are short on time or want a less difficult hike. You can see beautiful views and learn a lot about Inca history in just two days. If you want to do something more interesting and in-depth, the Classic Inca Trail takes four days and gives you more information about both Inca culture and the natural beauty of Peru's surroundings. Both paths lead to Machu Picchu, but they offer different ways to experience this old wonder.

Short Inca Trail:

The Short Inca Trail is a shorter version of its traditional counterpart, providing a taste of Inca Trail travel in less time and effort. Here are some key details:

  • Starting Point: Your journey starts at Km 104
  • Places we visit: Chachabamba, Winaywayna, Sun Gate, Machu Picchu
  • Hiking Duration: 6 to 7 hours to Machu Picchu
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku): We arrive in the late afternoon of day 1 and enjoy stunning views of Machu Picchu.
  • Arrival at Machu Picchu: We arrive at Machu Picchu late afternoon when Mahcu Picchu is less crowded
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Porters: Not required

Classic Inca Trail:

The Classic Inca Trail provides an extended and immersive trekking experience through varied landscapes and archaeological sites over multiple days. Here are some key details:

  • Starting Point: The journey commences from Km 82 near Ollantaytambo
  • Places we visit: Patallacta, Runcurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatmarca, Intipata, Winaywayna, Sun Gate, Machu Picchu
  • Duration: This trek covers 26 miles (42 kilometers) - 4 days and 3 nights
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku): We arrive early in the morning of day 4; on a clear day, you can enjoy the sunrise over Machu Picchu
  • Arrival at Machu Picchu: Trekkers descend from Sun Gate to Machu Picchu, exploring the citadel in the early morning
  • Accommodation: Camping out in Nature
  • Porters: Porters and chefs are required (approx 2 porters per traveler)

What is the difference between the Short Inca Trail with a hotel and Camping?

Both tours are very similar; they both travel along the same path and visit the same Inca sites. The differences lie primarily in terms of accommodation and overall experience.

Short Inca Trail with Hotel:

In the Short Inca Trail with Hotel option, you will follow the regular itinerary of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The main differences include:

  • Accommodation: You will stay in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes town.
  • Meals: The first breakfast is not included, but a box lunch is provided. Dinner is enjoyed in a local restaurant.
  • Comfort: Staying in a hotel allows you to enjoy modern amenities such as a private bathroom, comfortable bed, and Wi-Fi. This option is ideal for those who prefer a more comfortable and convenient end to their hiking day.

Short Inca Trail with Camping:

In the Short Inca Trail with Camping option, you will also follow the regular Short Inca Trail itinerary, but with a focus on a more immersive outdoor experience. The key features include:

  • Meals: You will have a picnic breakfast at the trailhead, enjoy a picnic lunch at Wiñaywayna, and a picnic dinner prepared by our expert chefs. The following morning, you will also have a picnic breakfast.
  • Accommodation: You will spend the night in our comfortable walk-in tents equipped with camping cots, sleeping bags, and blankets for cold nights. This option allows you to sleep under the stars, surrounded by nature's beauty.
  • Experience: Short Inca Trail with Camping provides a closer connection to the environment and a sense of adventure, making your trek feel more authentic and immersive.

Our Short Inca Trail with Glamping experience is available daily with at least 2 participants.

Can I request a picnic service on the Short Inca Trail with hotel?

Yes, of course! You can request a private tour with picnic breakfast and picnic lunch. We have private chefs and porters who can help you have delicious meals on the Inca Trail. Our expert chefs use fresh, local foods to make tasty, healthy meals.

Get in touch with us to request the Short Inca Trail with Picnic. We will set up and price this unique hiking add-on.

How much is it to hire a Personal Porter?

If you need help carrying your pack along the Short Inca Trail, you can request a personal porter. This service costs $120 per person, and each porter can carry a maximum of 15 kilos. This price covers the porter's services for one day and includes porter transportation, entry fees, meals, and lodging.

Hiring a porter might be necessary if you need assistance with carrying heavy equipment or if you are staying in a Machu Picchu hotel. If you follow the regular itinerary and stay in Aguas Calientes, it is best to use our free luggage transfer service from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Please keep in mind that you can transfer a maximum of 5 kilos per person, and this small luggage or carry-on will go directly to your hotel.

What train schedules will I be using?

TreXperience is the only company that provides panoramic trains for all our trekking tours.

  • When traveling from Ollantaytambo to Km 104, we provide the Expedition or Voyager trains, departing between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. The specific time depends on availability and the time of booking.
  • When returning from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, we provide the Vistadome or 360° train, with departures between 1:00 pm and 4:22 pm. The specific time depends on availability, activities in Machu Picchu, and the time of booking

Can I book/upgrade my hotel?

You can upgrade the hotels in Aguas Calientes town. Let us know whether you prefer staying at a regular hotel, making your own reservations, or upgrading. Please indicate which hotels you would like to stay at so we can give a price estimate for an upgrade and arrange your itinerary as soon as you confirm your choices.

Some of the most popular hotels to upgrade are:

  • Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge by Belmond
  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
  • Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
  • Casa del Sol Machupicchu Boutique Hotel
  • El MaPi by Inkaterra
  • Tierra Viva Machu Picchu
  • Taypikala Boutique Machupicchu

You can also book your own hotel, and we can discount the cost of the hotel. The hotels in our Short Inca Trail tours are based on double occupancy, and the price per person is $30. If you decide to book your own hotel, we can discount this price per person.

Are there any age or fitness restrictions for the Short Inca Trail?

There are no age or fitness restrictions for the Short Inca Trail. However, we recommend that children under 6 should not attempt the hike. The Short Inca Trail is a challenging hike with some steep sections. It is also important to note that no rescue or medical assistance is available on the trail.

Younger children might be able to participate with special assistance, such as a porter, to help carry them on the steep parts.

What are people's most common mistakes when hiking the Short Inca Trail?

People's most common mistakes when hiking the Short Inca Trail are:

  • Not Preparing for the Altitude: Hikers often underestimate the effects of high altitudes. To properly acclimatize, hikers must arrive in Cusco two days in advance.
  • Insufficient Water and Snacks: Failing to bring enough water and snacks can result in dehydration and low energy.
  • Inadequate Weather Preparation: Weather can be unpredictable. To ensure that you're always prepared, bring rain gear, sunscreen, a hat, and mosquito repellent.
  • Overpacking Clothes: Packing too many clothes can weigh down your backpack; to keep things light for this two-day trek, pack only the essentials to reduce weight.
  • Rushing Through the Hike: Hiking too quickly without taking time to enjoy nature and historical Inca sites can reduce the experience significantly. Take breaks, enjoy the scenery, and appreciate its rich history.
  • Partying the Night Before: Beware of Partying the Night Before in Cusco: Excessive drinking can leave you fatigued and dehydrated.

How do I prepare for the Short Inca Trail?

Below are a few tips on how to best prepare for the Short Inca Trail:

  • Book Permits Early: Secure your spot by making arrangements early.
  • Practice Hiking: Build stamina by exploring local trails before your trek
  • Get Good Hiking Shoes: Invest in quality hiking boots and break them in before your hike begins.
  • Use a Quality Backpack: Bring a lightweight yet comfortable backpack.
  • Acclimatize to Altitude: Arrive early in Cusco to allow yourself time to adjust.
  • Pack Water and Snacks: Bring at least 2 liters of water and plenty of snacks.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Follow Your Guide: Listen to your tour guide's instructions for a safe hike.
  • Pace Yourself: Enjoy the scenery, take breaks, and listen to your body.

How long is the Inca Trail 2 days?

The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a two-day and one-night tour. It covers a total distance of 13 km or 8 miles, and you will hike for about 6 to 7 hours until you arrive at the great citadel of Machu Picchu. On the first day, we will hike along the last part of the Classic Inca Trail, and on the second day, we will visit Machu Picchu.

Food during the Short Inca Trail?

  • First Breakfast: It is not included. Since we depart early from Cusco or the Sacred Valley, request a box breakfast from your hotel.
  • First Day Lunch: Included. We will provide a box lunch during the hike.
  • First Day Dinner: Included. Dinner will be at a local restaurant in Aguas Calientes.
  • Second Day Breakfast: Included. Served at your hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • Second-Day Lunch: Not included. After the Machu Picchu tour, you will have time to explore Aguas Calientes and have lunch before taking the train back to Cusco.

What must I carry for the Short Inca Trail for 2 days?

We can provide you with a duffle bag to pack clothes for the second day of the tour and all you need for this 2-day tour. If you don't want to carry it, we can transfer this bag by train. You will need a daypack for this trek that you will take with you.

The duffle bag will travel straight to your hotel in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo and must weigh a maximum of 5 kilos per person.

Your daypack must travel with you during the Inca Trail hike. Remember that we do not have porters on this tour, and your duffle bags will be waiting for you at the hotel. In your daypack, you should carry water, sunscreen, a snack, the box lunch provided by TreXperience, rain gear, your passport, insect repellent, toilet paper, a camera, and room for the clothes you will need to remove once you start hiking and warm up.

Are porters included in the Short Inca Trail tour?

Porters are not included in the Short Inca Trail 2-day tour with the hotel; we use porters only during the long and Short Version 2-day tour with camping.

We provide duffle bags for this tour; however, they will be sent by TreXperience directly to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. Anything you need during the hike, such as water, sunscreen, and rain gear, must be in your daypack. Porters can be included in this tour upon request and at an additional charge.

Is the Short Inca Trek Dangerous?

Any adventure trip you go on involves some risks. Dangerous situations during the Inca Trail could arise due to negligence or natural forces. Following your tour guide's instructions is the best way to stay safe on the Inca Trail.

All you need to know about the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Short Inca Trail is one of the most popular hiking tours to Machu Picchu. This incredible journey takes you on a 6—to 7-hour adventure along the iconic Inca Trail on the first day, followed by a full day exploring the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel on the second day. It is the perfect tour for those who want to experience the essence of the Inca Trail in just one day of hiking and one day at Machu Picchu.

The hike to Machu Picchu is relatively challenging but manageable for anyone able to hike for 6 to 7 hours on uneven terrain. Along the way, you will explore ancient Inca sites, enjoy breathtaking views of the Inca Trail, witness beautiful waterfalls, traverse the mystical cloud forest, and savor the unique view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.

The highlight of the Short Inca Trail is the unique arrival at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. This vantage point provides a fantastic opportunity to capture stunning photographs of Machu Picchu from above. The following day, you will revisit Machu Picchu and enjoy the sunrise over this iconic site.

TreXperience offers daily premium tours in small groups to guarantee personalized service. Our expert tour guides enhance your experience, and you will travel on the Panoramic Vistadome train, enjoying the spectacular vistas of the Machu Picchu Canyon and the Urubamba River.

Location

The Short Inca Trail is located approximately 70 kilometers (around 43 miles) northeast of Cusco, nestled within the lush Cloud Forest region. This scenic area is part of the Machu Picchu District in the Province of Urubamba. The trail begins at Km 104 .- Chachabmab Control Point, on the left bank of the Urubamba River. The journey takes you through diverse landscapes, from dense forests filled with exotic flora and fauna to ancient Inca ruins of Chachabmaba, Wiñaywyna, and Sun Gate (Inti Punku), which offers your first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu.

History

The Short Inca Trail, built in the 1400s and connecting the Sacred Valley, Wiñaywayna, and Machu Picchu, was an important trade and religious path that moved people, goods, and culture around the Inca Empire.

The Short Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were left behind and forgotten when the Spaniards conquered the Inca empire in the 16th century. They were hidden by the;thick jungle and time. Hiram Bingham, an American traveler, found Machu Picchu again in 1911, and many years later, Peruvian archaeologists found the Short Inca Trail and Wiñaywayna.

Today, the Peruvian government protects this historical site by allowing only 250 walkers per day to use the trail. This protects the cultural sites and the natural environment so that people can enjoy their beauty and historical importance without harming the environment.

Weather

The weather on the Short Inca Trail is quite variable, with hot days and cool nights, and the possibility of showers at any time. It's important to pack appropriate clothing and rain gear to stay comfortable throughout your hike. The best time to hike the Short Inca Trail is from April to October, as this is when rainfall is at its lowest.

Temperatures typically range from 10 to 25°C (50 to 77°F). Due to its location in the cloud forest, rain can occur unexpectedly, and the trail is often shrouded in clouds. Being prepared for these conditions will help ensure an enjoyable trekking experience.

Hiking distance

The Short Inca Trail begins at km 104 and passes through Chachabamba and Wiñaywayna before reaching the Sun Gate and, finally, Machu Picchu. The total distance covered is 13 kilometers (8 miles), and it is typically completed in about 7 hours of hiking.

Despite its shorter length, the Short Inca Trail is moderately challenging, featuring steep sections and numerous stairs. However, the effort is rewarded with stunning views and the immense satisfaction of completing this epic journey.

Flora

Wildlife along the Short Inca Trail is surprisingly diverse. Many types of plants and flowers grow wild along the trail. The variety of plants along the road makes it look even better and gives you a lot to experience on your hike. These are some of the most popular flowers and plants you might see:

  • The Aguaymanto, or Peruvian Cherry, is a small, bright fruit that often grows wild next to the path. It's not only beautiful to look at but also a tasty treat known for its sweetness and sourness.
  • Alstroemeria, also known as the Peruvian lily, is a flower that grows in South America. It adds splashes of color to the scenery. You can often see tiny, lily-like alstroemeria flowers growing next to the trail, adding to the beauty of the view.
  • Bromeliads are bright plants that grow in the tropical jungles of South America. Along the Inca Trail, bromeliads often grow on trees. Their bright colors stand out against the lush green background. They are beautiful to look at because of their odd shapes and bright colors.
  • Cattleya Orchids: Cattleya orchids are one of the most famous flowers in South America. They are hard to find but very beautiful when you do. Orchids are known for their big, fragrant flowers, which represent the foreign beauty of the area's plants.
  • Hibiscus: This plant usually grows in warm areas because its flowers are brightly colored and shaped like trumpets. Hibiscus plants sometimes bloom near streams or rivers along the Inca Trail, adding splashes of color to the calm water scenes.

Fauna

Plenty of animals live along the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, giving hikers the chance to see many interesting animals in their native environments. These are some of the interesting species you might see:

  • The Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), also called the Andean bear, is the only bear species that lives in South America. It can be easily recognized by the white marks around its eyes that look like glasses. You might be lucky enough to see one of these bears looking for food, but they are usually shy and hard to find.
  • Rupicola peruviana, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock: The bright bird is the state bird of Peru, and its red-orange feathers and fan-shaped crest make it stand out. The male's complicated breeding dance is beautiful to watch. You can often find these birds in the cloud forest.
  • The Andean Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) is a small rodent-like animal known for being quick and agile. It is often seen quickly moving through the bushes to find plants, fruits, and seeds.
  • Vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum) is a type of chinchilla that looks like a rabbit and has a long, bushy tail. It lives in rocky places along the trail and is busiest in the early morning and late afternoon.
  • Dwarf Brocket Deer (Mazama chunyi): This small type of deer is hard to find and is only seen in the woody parts of the trail. Hikers are lucky to see it sometimes because it is shy and blends in with its surroundings.
  • Butterflies: Many kinds of bright butterflies fly through the air, adding to the peaceful atmosphere of the trail.
  • Spiders and Other Insects: Spiders and other arthropods are part of the diverse insect life, and they all play important roles in the environment.
  • Snakes and Lizards: The trail's diverse wildlife includes snakes and lizards relaxing in the sun or slithering through the plants.
  • Llamas: Llamas are an important part of the Inca road and Machu Picchu. You can often see them grazing along the road and at the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. These tamed animals are not only famous, but they also show how people used to live in the Andes.

Inca sites and places to visit

A number of important Inca sites can be found along the Short Inca Trail. Each one gives a different view into the history and culture of this ancient society. Here's a full list of the most important spots along the trail:

  • Chachabamba: The walk starts with a stop at Chachabamba, an archaeological site with stone buildings and baths used for ceremonies. The Incas are thought to have used this site as a religious center where they performed ceremonies connected to water. Exploring Chachabamba can teach you a lot about Inca architecture and religious customs.
  • Choquesuysuy: Choquesuysuy is an interesting spot that adds to the trail's historical complexity, even though it can only be seen from a distance. Its terraces and buildings can be seen as you walk along the path, giving you an idea of how the Incas farmed.
  • One of the best parts of the Short Inca Trail is Wiñaywayna, whose name means "Forever Young." There are large farming terraces, ceremonial fountains, and a number of well-preserved buildings at this impressive site. By exploring Wiñaywayna, you can be amazed by how cleverly the Incas built things and how beautifully they designed their landscapes.
  • From afar, Intipata is another impressive Inca site that stands out because of its steep farming terraces. In the tough mountain environment, these terraces were used to grow crops. Looking at Intipata from afar shows how good the Incas were at farming and how they could adapt to different settings.
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku): The Sun Gate is the last stop on the Short Inca Trail before you get to Machu Picchu. It was a checkpoint for people who wanted to get into the holy city. You can see Machu Picchu for the first time from this point, which makes the walk to the Sun Gate memorable and worthwhile.
  • Machu Picchu: The trip ends at the famous Machu Picchu, one of the world's most well-known historical sites. This old city was high in the Andes Mountains and served as a royal palace and a place of worship. When you visit Machu Picchu, you can experience the grandeur and wonder of this UNESCO World Heritage site by wandering through its temples, plazas, and residential areas.

Best time to hike

From April to October, when it is dry and sunny and not likely to rain, is the best time to hike the Short Inca Trail. The best months to go hiking and enjoy clear views of the beautiful landscapes and historical sites are during these months.

From November to March, when it rains a lot, hiking has its own special charm. There are fewer people on the trail, and the lush plants and scenery are at their best. To get around easily in the wetter weather, you'll need good rain gear, waterproof clothing, and sturdy hiking boots.

Short Inca Trail regulations

The Peruvian government manages the Short Inca Trail. Every year, thousands of people from around the world come to hike this trail, ending with a visit to the magnificent Machu Picchu Citadel. The Inca Trail is a protected area with regulations to minimize its impact. Here are some important rules to be aware of:

  • Checkpoints: There are three checkpoints on the Short Inca Trail where you will get a stamp: Km 104, Wiñaywayna, and Machu Picchu. The tour guide presents the Anexo and entry tickets at each checkpoint.
  • Number of Visitors: Only 250 people, including tour guides, chefs, and porters, are allowed on the trail daily.
  • Entry Times: The trail opens when the first train arrives around 6:20 am. Most groups start after 7:00 am and have all day to hike to Machu Picchu. The latest entry time is 11:00 am to ensure timely arrival at Machu Picchu. The last bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes town departs at 5:30 pm.
  • Closing Period: The Short Inca Trail closes in February every year for maintenance and because of the heavy rainy season.
  • Age Restrictions: There are no age restrictions, but travelers must be able to hike for about 6 to 7 hours on uneven terrain with steep stairs and narrow paths. Travelers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, and those under 6 years old are recommended to have extra help, like a porter.
  • Permits: You need to book Inca Trail permits with an authorized tour operator. These permits are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
  • Tour Operators: Not all tour agencies in Cusco have licenses to operate on the Inca Trail. Tour companies must obtain authorization from the Peruvian government. TreXperience offers a 2-day Short Inca Trail package, including entry tickets, meals, hotels, and panoramic trains.
  • Tour Guides: Tour guides need a special license to work on the Inca Trail and must renew it every two years. They must also have First Aid and Mountain Rescue training and know the trail's history and environment.
  • Chefs and Porters: Chefs and porters also need training to work on the Inca Trail. Usually, porters and chefs are not included in the Short Inca Trail tour, but you can upgrade to include them for a full trekking team.
  • Waste Management: You cannot leave any trash on the Inca Trail. You must carry out whatever you bring. Trekking teams bring red bags for plastic and non-biodegradable waste and green bags for biodegradable waste.
  • Plastic Bottles: Plastic bottles are not allowed on the Short Inca Trail due to littering and environmental harm. Use a reusable container instead.
  • Cancellation Policy: Inca Trail permits are nonrefundable and nontransferable. If you need to cancel, you cannot get a refund or transfer your permit to another date or person.
  • No Shows: If a traveler does not arrive on the specified date, the permit is considered a no-show, and the cost is lost. This strict policy applies to all tour operators.
  • Pets: Pets and exotic animals are not allowed on the Short Inca Trail. Only guide dogs are permitted on the trail and in Machu Picchu.

Safety and Security

The Short Inca Trail goes through 13 kilometers of beautiful but difficult land. Along the trail, there are no medical facilities or doctors, so it's important to be careful and do what your tour guide says. The following steps are taken to make sure our guests are safe and sound:

  • Experienced Tour Guides: We only hire tour guides with extensive experience and training.
  • Safety Gear: We provide a First Aid kit, oxygen tank, and satellite phones.
  • Checkpoints: The Inca Trail has checkpoints to monitor hikers and ensure their safety. Checkpoints are at km 104, Wiñaywayna, and Machu Picchu.
  • Emergency plan: Park guards working at each checkpoint can help in an emergency and give advice. Our guides know what to do in an emergency and can quickly call for help if they need to.
  • Briefing Before the Hike: We do a full briefing before we start the hike. This briefing describes what to expect on the trail, rules for staying safe, and hiking tips.
  • Health Warnings: All hikers should get a medical check-up before the trip to lower their chance of getting sick. This is very important for people who already have health problems.
  • Altitude sickness: Before starting the hike, you should spend at least two days getting used to the air in Cusco.
  • Responsible Hiking: To avoid accidents, stay on marked paths, bring reusable water bottles, and take all trash with you.
  • Being ready for bad weather: Hikers should be ready for a variety of weather conditions, such as rain, sun, and cool temperatures.
  • Small group tours: We organize small groups; every 8 travelers will get 1 guide. Our guides can keep a close eye on each walker and help them when they need it.
  • Speed: We hike at a reasonable pace so that people of all fitness levels can enjoy the hike without getting too tired.

Code of conduct

The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a one-of-a-kind chance to see the amazing sights at this historic place. It's important to follow a code of behavior to make sure your trip is safe, fun, and polite. Here is an in-depth look at the rules for how to behave on the Short Inca Trail:

  • Follow the rules to keep yourself and others safe and protect the nature.
  • Don't leave trash: Take all of your trash with you and throw it away properly.
  • Keep archaeological places safe: Do not climb on, touch, or damage any ruins.
  • Show respect to other walkers and locals: Respectfully keep your space and be kind.
  • Follow the marked paths: Stay on marked paths to protect the environment.
  • Carry out everything you bring in to protect the beauty of the trail.
  • Ready yourself: Bring things you'll need, like water, snacks, and the right clothes.
  • Respect wildlife: Keep your distance from animals and don't bother them.
  • Help environmentally friendly actions: Buy eco-friendly items and shop at neighborhood stores.
  • Have fun and value the experience: Enjoy the wildlife and learn about the history of the trail.

Prohibited items

Some things can't be brought on the Short Inca Trail to keep hikers safe, protect the environment, and keep the historical places in good shape. Here is a full list of things and acts that are not allowed:

  • Animals (except guide dogs): Only guide dogs are allowed to protect the area's wildlife and keep the trail clean.
  • Alcohol and illegal drugs: These are not allowed to keep people from making bad decisions and getting into crashes.
  • Weapons (including guns, knives, and other types of weapons) are not allowed to keep everyone safe.
  • Materials that can explode or catch fire: Banned because they pose a high risk of fire and explosion.
  • For privacy and traffic reasons, big tripods, drones, and professional video gear are not allowed. You need a special pass to bring these things in.
  • To protect the fragile historical sites, you are not allowed to touch or climb on the ruins.
  • Large backpacks are not allowed in Machu Picchu. Instead, bring only the things you need in a small daypack.
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