Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, 2 days – 1 night
Lower part of Wiñaywayna.
Important info: Both the hikers and guides who take this short trek are counted into the 500 people allowed per day on the Inca Trail, so we recommend booking well in advance–six months at least–because the permits are selling out quickly.
Price as of 2017
US$ 450 – regular price
US$ 420 – ISIC card
This short hike takes two days, passing by bus through the highlands of Cusco where the Andean people still practice subsistence farming using traditional agricultural methods.
On the way, you will sight a few snow-capped mountains surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas and continue by train along the Urubamba River into the cloud forest.
This trek begins from the 104 km of train railway, after which you will hike up the mountain through a grassland area and into the forest. There, you will see some orchids (250 species in total), begonias and birds (350 species in total, including hummingbirds, toucans, and woodpeckers).
This forest is home to small mammals like the capiso (a species of anteater), opossums, and the rare spectacled bear.
After ascending for almost 5 hours, we come to the Intipunku (Sun Gate), where you will see the magnificent profile of the Inca City of Machu Picchu. The ruins are seen from a distance, because it will take 40 more minutes to walk down to the final destination–the Seventh Wonder of the World.
We recommend staying until 5:00 pm in order to have a more relaxing experience of Machu Picchu without crowds. By this time, the vast majority of tourists will be on the way back to Cusco, and sometimes one can catch the ruins almost completely “empty.”
Departure: You will need to book in advance, at least 4 – 6 months ahead for the high season (April through September)
Duration: 2 days and 1 night
Distance: 8 km (5 miles)
Modality: Trekking, adventure and cultural experience.
When to go: The best season is from April through October.
Location: Andes mountain range and the cloud forest of Machu Picchu
Day temperature: 12 °C to 25 °C
Night temperature: 7 °C to 15 °C
Important note: At least 2 days of acclimatization are required. These days, you can do the Cusco city tour and the Sacred Valley tour.
Classic Short Inca Trail, 2 days itinerary:
Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Km 104 – Wiñaywayna – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
We will pick you up from your hotel at 5:00 am to go by bus for 2 hours to the train station of Ollantaytambo (68 km) where you take a train by 7:45 am. From there, it is about one hour and 45 more minutes to the 104 km (the starting point of the hike) of train railway from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. By this point, you will already have enjoyed the view from the train of the highlands of Cusco and Chinchero (3800 m/12467 ft), down to the Sacred Valley along the bank of Urubamba River, as well as some glaciers like the Veronica (Huacay Huillca – 5850m/19193 ft).
This hike begins at an altitude of 2170 m (7120 ft.) into the cloud forest. After crossing a suspension bridge over the Urubamba River and showing your passport at the check point, you will visit the Chachabamba Incan site. This sacred resting place located along the river marks the beginning of the ascent along an open grassland path into the cloud forest, reaching an altitude of 2650 m (8694 ft.) This section lasts for about three hours, as you make your way toward Wiñaywayna (Quechua for “forever young”) the most preserved and beautiful Incan site along the route to Machu Picchu. The site is comprised of 50 terraces, with housing in the lower part and a religious area in the upper part. Here, you will eat your boxed lunch while enjoying the spectacular view of the Urubamba River below and glaciers beyond.
Afterwards you’ll continue to Intipunku (“Sun gate”), which takes one hour uphill and downhill through a beautiful cloud forest by the southern part of Machu Picchu mountain in order to see some species of orchids and begonias. We will hike carefully, as this portion of the path is narrow.
From the Sun Gate, you will catch your first glimpse of the classic view of the ruins of Machu Picchu with the Huayna Picchu mountain in the background. You will take your time enjoying of this magnificent view before descending to your real destination–the wonderful Machu Picchu citadel itself–a walk of 40 more minutes downhill.
We will then take a break on the upper part of this breathtaking Incan citadel in order to see it without crowds by 4:00 to 5:00 pm when most of people are leaving. If you are lucky, you can find the ruins with almost no one else there!
After this, you will take a bus down to Aguas Calientes straight to your accommodation.
You will then have a dinner with your guide, where you will be informed about the next day’s plan.
Day 2: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco
At second day you are going to get up at 4:30 am, after having breakfast you have to take a bus up to Machu Picchu at 5:30 getting to Machu Picchu at 6:00 am.
Your guide will lead you to the upper part of Machu Picchu to begin the tour through this wonderful archaeological inca site and learn much more about the incas so by 8:30 you will be able to explore it on your own until 4:00 pm the latest!
Huayna Picchu mountain.- If you want to climb up to Wayna Picchu mountain which appears in the background in the classic picture of Machu Picchu, please let us know at booking to check availability, this climb is very popular please book it in advance too, it is about US$85 extra not included in the regular 2 days trek ticket.
It is only allowed 400 people a day for climbing to Huaynapicchu mountain!!, one group of 200 people is leaving at 7:00 – 8:00 am and the other 200 at 10:00 – 11:00 am so please it is better to go in the second group because sometimes this place is cloudy in the morning.
Machu Picchu mountain.- If you want to climb up to Machu Picchu mountain which is located in front of Machu Picchu, please let us know at booking to check availability, this climb became popular recently book it in advance too, it is baout US$80 extra not included in the regular 2 days trek ticket.
It is only allowed 400 people a day for climbing to Machu Picchu mountain!!, one group of 200 people is leaving at 7:00 – 8:00 am and the other 200 at 9:00 – 10:00 am so please it is better to go in the second group because sometimes this place is cloudy in the morning.
Leaving from Machu Picchu at 3:00 pm the latest to take a bus down to Aguas Calientes to have time for eating and shopping in town, and take the train at 6:20 pm back to Ollantaytambo for two hours where a bus will be waiting for you, so it is about two more hours by bus to Cusco.
You will arrive to Cusco at 10:30 pm or you need 4 hours back to Cusco from Aguas Calientes.
We recommend taking a train at 14:55 in Aguas Calientes please let us know about this issue.
What is included?
-“Walking tour in Cusco”, 1 or 2 days before your trek begins.
-Pre-departure briefing, a night or 2 nights before the trek, introduced by your guides (your guide will go to your hotel).
-Tourist bus from your hotel to Ollantaytambo in order to take a train to Machupicchu but you will get off at km 104 of railroad track.
-Train ticket from Ollantaytambo to km 104 of the railroad, the beginning for hiking.
-Professional bilingual guide.
-Assistant guide (groups over 8 people).
-Entrance fee for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.
-1 boxed lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast (day 1 breakfast and day 4 lunch are not included).
-Bottled oxygen and first aid kit.
-3 bus tickets, down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes on day 1, round trip from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on day 2.
-Accomodation in hotel at Aguas Calientes ( Hotel Pachacutec 2 stars).
-Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (Expedition service at 18:20) and bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, if you want to leave earlier please let us know, the other option is at 14:55 (it takes 2 hours by train and 2 hours by bus).
-No extra cost for vegetarian food on request.
What do You need to take?
-Original passport (ISIC card if it is applicable).
-A comfortable day pack.
-Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits.
-Waterproof gear, rain poncho (any season, Machu Picchu is located into a rainy cloud forest).
-Warm jacket (temperature varies from 10 to 24 °C or 50 to 75 F).
-Sun hat, and sunglasses.
-Sunscreen (35 SF recommended).
-Insect repellent (20% DEET – no malaria has been reported).
-Bottled water, 1 and a half liters for Day 1, You can buy more bottled water at Aguas Calientes for Day 2.
-Personal First Aid kit.
-Swimming clothes for the hot springs in town, 10 min. away from town main square and US$ 4 entrance fee.
-Camera, you can take your charger and use it in the accommodation.
-We recommend packing your belongs in plastic bags due the rain and a waterproof cover for your daypack.
*Important: To qualify a student , it is necessary to have a valid ISIC card, and send a scanned copy at booking.
*Advise us about any allergy or personal health condition (asthma, etc).
-Walking poles with rubber tips.
-Plasters and bandages.
-Extra money (300 soles at least), there is an ATM in Aguas Calientes.
-Bathing suit (hot springs at Aguas Calientes).
Optional services not included
-Upgrade of train service to Vistadome Class at 16:22, US$35.
-Upgrade to earlier train service at 14:55, US$20.
-Walking poles – US$10 each pair.
-Extra night in Aguas Calientes – US$60 (2-Star hotel).
-Ask for discounts:
If you are a student you have a discount ($20 – ISIC card only, send us a scanned copy at booking), teenagers up to 15 years old ($20), children up to 7 years old ($40).
*Size of the group: Min. 2 people, max. 8 people.
TO HOME TO TOP HOW TO BOOK?
CLASSIC INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU, 2 DAYS FAQ
How long is the Inca Trail, and how many hours do we hike per day?
This Inca Trail is about 8 km (5 mi) long. You will hike 6 km up and 2 km down to Machu Picchu. Though hours walked will vary depending upon the fitness level of each hiker, this shortened Inca Trail consists of approximately five to seven hours of hiking in total.
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. There are many Incan staircases to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend purchasing light aluminum walking poles while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. We ask that you not use a metal tipped walking stick, as it can harm the fragile environment along the trail.
Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?
It’s impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cusco (3350 m – 10984 ft.), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point you will reach while hiking this Inca Trail is 2760 m – 9049 ft. You will sleep at 2000 m (6557 ft) in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
Is it possible to skip the Inca Trail even if the tour includes it?
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Inca Trail, please advise us at the time of booking (though please note that it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail, you will spend one night in Aguas Calientes and will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu for your included tour of the site.
When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
The time at which you will reach Machu Picchu depends of your wake-up time. We recommend that you wake up at 4:30 am and eat a snack or box lunch instead of having breakfast, because at this time no hotel provides breakfast. (The earliest for breakfast could be at 5:00 am in some hotels.) Try to catch the first bus at 5:30 am so that you will be by Machu Picchu at 6:00 am. After going to the upper part to wait for the panoramic view of the sun rise, you will receive a two hour guided tour, followed by some free time to explore the area on your own. The group then travels by bus to Aguas Calientes, where we catch the train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus back to Cusco. Train schedules may vary.
Do porters carry our luggage while on the Inca Trail?
No, but if you really need a porter for your light items, just let us know to make the arrangements.
Inca Hike recommends that you take only what you really need, as you will carry all your personal ítems with you on the five-hour hike and to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. Temperatures vary from 10 C to 26 C (50 to 78 F).
Items not required while on the trail can be stored safely at your hotel in Cusco. All you will be required to carry is a daypack containing items you will need during the hike (water, camera, sunscreen, rain poncho, etc.).
How cold does it get on the Inca Trail (will I need to bring hats and mittens)?
This hike is not extremely cold, though temperatures can vary from 10 C to 28 C (50 F to 78 F).
You need only three layers at most. During the day you can wear a pair of shorts because it is hot (remember that you will be in the cloud forest or high jungle).
What type of accommodation will we receive on the Inca Trail?
You will sleep in a hotel, which provides a private bathroom and single, double or triple bedroom according to your needs. We can also up-grade your accommodation in Aguas Calientes.
Is purified water available on the trail?
This hike lasts only two days, so you can buy water in Cusco and buy some more in Aguas Calientes for Machu Picchu (two liters per day).
What type of food will we get on the Inca Trail?
On the first day, you will have a box lunch with a cheese sandwich, some fruit, juice and a chocolate bar.
Your dinner will be in a restaurant in Aguas Calientes. Breakfast the next day will be in the hotel (or they will provide you a snack, as you will be getting up very early in the morning).
How much should I tip the guides?
Tipping is at your discretion, but always appreciated.
What are the requirements to hike the Inca Trail?
To hike the Inca Trail with INCA HIKE you must be over the age of eight, have a moderate level of fitness, and hold a passport that valid for up to 6 months after your return to your home country.
Bookings should be made as far in advance as possible. To be able to ensure a spot on the Inca Trail, we recommend that you purchase your trip at least three months in advance in low season (between November and April) and at least six months in advance in high season (May to October).
We cannot guarantee the availability of a permit by following these guidelines, though your chances of obtaining one are much greater.
We require the following information for the purchase of an Inca Trail Permit.
1. Passport full name (exactly as it appears on the passport).
2. Passport date of birth.
3. Passport nationality.
4. Passport number.
6. Date of passport expiration (must be valid for the date of travel).
Any attempts at modifications will result in a loss of the permit and any money paid.
A limited amount of permits are available each day for hikers in an effort to preserve the trail.
When is the high season on the Inca Trail?
Hiking the Inca Trail is popular all year round, however May through September is considered the ‘high’ season. This means that permits can be sold out many months in advance, so it is especially imperative to plan ahead for hiking during these months.
The cost of ‘high season’ Inca Trail tours is slightly higher than the rest of the year, however if you book before February, you can save money by taking advantage of our offers.
How early do I need to book my Inca Trail tour?
Permits to hike the Inca Trail can be sold out many months in advance, particularly in the high season. We recommend booking as early as possible.