The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu stands as one of Peru's most breathtaking 2-day hikes, offering the unique opportunity to arrive at Machu Picchu on two occasions. This trail is an excellent option for those short on time but eager to experience a taste of the iconic Inca Trail. Every departure includes return on the panoramic Vistadome Train.

Trek details

Duration
2 days 1 night
Activities
Hiking - Adventures - Hotel
Difficulty
Moderate
Maximum Altitude
2700m - 8858ft
Destination
Inca Trail & Machu Picchu
Group Size
12
Overview

Begin your journey in either Cusco or Ollantaytambo. From there, enjoy a picturesque train ride to Km 104. Embark on a hike along the final stretch of the Classic Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate by afternoon. Relish the serene views of Machu Picchu with fewer crowds during this time.

Highlights:

  • Traverse the final segment of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
  • Enjoy breathtaking vistas from the Sun Gate.
  • Experience Machu Picchu twice during exclusive hours.
  • Delve into the ruins of Wiñaywayna.
  • Journey back to Cusco aboard the Panoramic Vistadome train.

Short Inca Trail at a Glance:

Day 1: Cusco — Km 104 — Machu Picchu — Aguas Calientes

  • Hotel pick-up and drive to Ollantaytambo (1.5 hours).
  • Board the train to Km 104 to begin the Short Inca Trail.
  • Embark on a 7-hour hike along the forgotten Inca Trail.
  • Explore Inca Sites: Chachabamba and Wiñaywayna.
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate in the afternoon.
  • Overnight stay at a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Day 2: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of the Incas) — Cusco

  • Early breakfast at the hotel.
  • Board the first bus to Machu Picchu.
  • Engage in a 3-hour guided tour of key attractions.
  • After the tour, freely explore or opt to climb Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu.
  • Return on the Panoramic Vistadome Train
  • Arrive back at your hotel in Cusco around 7:30 pm.

Optional hikes after Machu Picchu Tour:

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain: Additional ticket cost of $75 per person.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: Additional ticket cost of $75 per person.
Full Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco — Km 104 — Machu Picchu — Aguas Calientes

After an early 4:00 a.m. pick-up from your hotel in Cusco, embark on a 1.5-hour drive to Ollantaytambo. From here, you'll board the first train to km 104 - Chachabamba, marking the start of the Short Inca Trail. Upon reaching km 104, you'll need to present your original passport for entry.

Your adventure begins with a visit to the Chachabamba archaeological site. Under the guidance of your tour guide, you'll explore and delve into its rich history. Following this, you'll set out on the lost Inca Trail. Though the trail is narrow, it offers mesmerizing views. A 4-hour hike will lead you to Wiñaywayna, one of the most magnificent Inca sites along the trail. You can admire its intricate architecture, streets, water fountains, and temples here. Midday, you'll be treated to a delicious boxed lunch at the nearby campsite.

After Lunch, you'll resume your journey, undertaking an easier 1-hour hike to the Sun Gate. Along the way, you might spot beautiful orchids and a myriad of birds. As you reach the Sun Gate, prepare to be greeted by the breathtaking sight of Machu Picchu. The final leg of today's hike, an hour-long descent, will bring you to the upper region of Machu Picchu by around 4:00 p.m. – a time when there are fewer tourists. This allows you a serene environment to capture photos and witness the sunset over the ancient citadel.

Your day concludes with a bus ride to Aguas Calientes, where you'll check into your hotel and rest.

  • Aguas Calientes Altitude: 2000m - 6561ft
  • Highest altitude: 2700m - 8858ft
  • Distance: 15km - 8 miles
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Meals: lunch, dinner
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Day 2: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of the Incas) — Cusco

Begin your day early with a hearty breakfast at the hotel before boarding the first bus to Machu Picchu, ensuring you don't miss the mesmerizing sunrise. Once there, embark on a guided tour with a comprehensive tour of the iconic Inca citadel. Your knowledgeable guide will lead you through the most captivating parts of Machu Picchu.

After your guided experience, you'll have personal time to either wander the citadel at your own pace or undertake optional hikes to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Please note that these hikes are distinct from the Machu Picchu citadel and are not included in your tour.

Once you've had your fill of the ancient wonders, descend via bus to Aguas Calientes. Take time to enjoy lunch at your own expense before boarding the Vistadome train back to Ollantaytambo. Upon your arrival, our private transport will be ready to whisk you back to your hotel, with an approximate arrival time of 7:30 p.m.

  • Campsite Altitude: 2000m - 6561ft
  • Highest altitude: 2400m - 7874ft
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Meals: breakfast at the hotel

Included.

  • Pre-departure safety briefing.
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off.
  • Professional tour guide.
  • All transportation costs.
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • Entrance ticket to the Inca Trail.
  • Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.
  • All necessary bus tickets to Machu Picchu.
  • Meals: 1 box lunch, and one dinner at a local restaurant.
  • First Aid Kit and Oxygen tank.
  • Round-trip train tickets.
  • Vistadome Panoramic return train.
  • All booking fees and taxes.

Not Included

  • First breakfast and second-day lunch
  • Travel Insurance
FAQs

What is the Short Inca Trail 2-day trek to Machu Picchu?

The Short Inca Trail is a condensed version of the classic 4-day Inca Trail trek. It's a 2-day, 1-night hike that covers a distance of approximately 13 kilometers (8 miles), taking trekkers through stunning landscapes, Incan ruins, and cloud forests before reaching the iconic Machu Picchu.

How difficult is the Short Inca Trail?

The Short Inca Trail is considered a moderate trek. The hike involves some steep ascents and descents, but it's manageable for most people with a moderate level of fitness. Acclimatizing to the altitude in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before the trek is recommended to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.

Do I need a permit to hike the Short Inca Trail?

Yes, you need a permit to hike the Short Inca Trail. The number of permits is limited to 250 per day (including guides and trekkers), so booking your trek well in advance is important, especially during the peak season (May to September).

How do I obtain a permit for the Short Inca Trail?

Permits can only be obtained through a licensed tour operator. When booking your trek, the operator will handle the permit process for you. You'll need to provide your passport details, and it's crucial that your passport is valid for the duration of your trip.

What is the best time to hike the Short Inca Trail?

The best time to hike the Short Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. The weather is generally more predictable, and the trail conditions are better during this time. However, be prepared for larger crowds during the peak months.

What should I pack for the Short Inca Trail?

Essential items for the Short Inca Trail include:

  • Comfortable hiking shoes/boots
  • Lightweight clothing (quick-drying) for layering
  • Warm layers for the evening
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal medications and a basic first-aid kit
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • High-energy snacks
  • Passport (must match the information on your permit)
  • Camera and extra batteries

Are there age restrictions for the Short Inca Trail?

There is no strict age limit for the Short Inca Trail, but it's recommended that children be at least 8 years old to participate. Elderly individuals and people with pre-existing medical conditions should consult their doctor before embarking on the trek.

For younger children, we recommend private tours.