Short Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu 2 Days

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Duration: 2 Days / 1 Night
Availability : Every Day.
Depart: Km 104
Destinaton: Machu Picchu
Max People : 12

About the Short Inca Trail, a One Day Inca Trail Hike

The Short Inca Trail is a great way to hike to Machu Picchu in a short amount of time. It is essentially a one day Inca Trail hike followed by a Machu Picchu tour the next day, after spending a night in a comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes.

On this 2 day Inca Trail adventure, you’ll get a taste of the “classic” Inca Trail hike, visit Wiñay Wayna and walk through Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, into Machu Picchu. Day 2 of this itinerary gives you a chance to fully explore the impressive Machu Picchu citadel with an experienced guide.

The Short Inca Trail hike is also a great option for people who want to experience hiking in the Andes, but then sleep in a comfortable hotel before visiting Machu Picchu the next day.

Click FULL DESCRIPTION to read more about this amazing one day Inca Trail hike, or check out our complete Short Inca Trail guide!

See Full Description

The Short Inca Trail is a 2 day Inca Trail trek, with one day hiking the Inca Trail and one day visiting Machu Picchu.

On Day 1, you’ll join the Inca Trail at Km 104 and hike up towards Winay Wayna. Visit these incredible Inca ruins – the most impressive on the entire Inca Trail! – before continuing on to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). You’ll have your first glimpse of Machu Picchu from here. There is a lot of uphill walking on this trek, over the stone steps first laid by the ancient Inca. Along the way, you’ll enjoy spectacular vistas and a wealth of flora and fauna all along the one day Inca Trail hike. Bypassing Machu Picchu itself, you will walk or take the bus down to Aguas Calientes, to spend the night in a hotel.

On Day 2, take the bus back up to Machu Picchu to explore this fascinating site. You’ll have a guided tour and then an impressive buffet lunch just outside the gates. You may also want to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. These hikes require an extra permit which must be requested at the time of booking.

For a more detailed description of each day, with times and distances, read the full Itinerary below.

Did you know? More Info about hiking the Inca Trail

Only a special few actually get to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu every year. Peru’s permit system means that just 500 people are allowed on the trail every day – approximately 200 visitors and 300 trekking staff. Permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, and are in very high demand: they can sell out as much as 6 months in advance. Once spaces have been booked, NO OPERATOR CAN OFFER YOU A SPACE. All spaces are personal and non-transferable, and there is no waiting list, so if someone cancels, their spot cannot be taken by someone new. Also note that the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed in February for maintenance.

We treat our staff right

The Inca Trail is notorious for the mistreatment of porters and other trail staff who are asked to carry more than government regulation allow. At Apus Peru, we do things differently, going above and beyond these minimums. Read more about how we take care of all our staff, including porters and horsemen.

Short Inca Trail Trek Highlights

  • A great way to hike the Inca Trail if you're short on time. Includes a one day Inca Trail hike and one day visiting Machu Picchu.
  • Visit the ruins of Winay Wayna and hike through the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu
  • Unlike the 4 day Inca Trail, permits for the Short Inca Trail rarely sell out.
Prices are per person in USD, based on group size. Apus Peru exclusively operates private groups, except by special request. Hiking the Inca Trail as a private group allows us to offer you a highly personalized experience, with more one-on-one time with your guide and a more tailored, off-the-beaten-path experience on the trail. We do not have fixed-date group departures. If you do not want to book a private trek, please see our Trekkers Wanted page for a list of open departures within your dates.

2 people


3 people


4-6 people


7+ people


High quality personalized experience

Unique, off-the-beaten track routes

Experienced staff

Verified sustainability practices

$20 of every trek donated to Threads of Peru

Important Details About the Short Inca Trail

What is Included?


  • 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a Standard Hotel. This will be a nice, clean and safe hotel with breakfast included and private bathroom. You can also upgrade to a higher quality hotel.


  • Boxed lunch on Day 1 that you must carry in your day pack 
  • Lunch at the Tinkuy Restaurant at Machu Picchu on Day 2

Talk to your Travel Consultant during the booking process if you have certain preferences! Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available if requested in advance. 


  • Collection from your hotel on the morning of your Short Inca Trail trek departure
  • Private transport from Cusco to the train station in Ollantaytambo
  • Train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Km 104
  • Bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu
  • Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
  • Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.

Trekking Team

  • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide, plus an assistant guide for groups over 8


  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle

Additional inclusions

  • Pre-trek briefing
  • Inca Trail Permit (includes entry to Machu Picchu)

What is Not Included?


  • Breakfast on the first morning
  • Dinner on the last night

Equipment & Trekking Team

  • Sleeping bags (there is no camping)
  • Porters – there no porters on the Short Inca Trail. You must carry your own belongings.


  • Tips for the guide
  • Flights to/from Cusco
  • Travel Insurance
  • Entry fee to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
  • Entrance to the hot springs

Optional Extras & Upgrades

We offer you the opportunity to personalize your trek and make your experience more comfortable through our Optional Extras and Upgrades. All options are available during the reservation process; please ask your sales consultant for more information.

Equipment Available for Rent

  • Porter to carry your own things
  • Light-weight aluminum walking stick. Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.

Service Upgrades

Optional Activities


  • When calculating the cost of renting equipment, calculate using the length of the entire trip, not just the number of trekking days.
  • Please be careful with rented equipment! You are responsible for the cost of replacement if something is damaged or broken.
  • Any upgrades or trip extensions must be requested at time of booking.

What to Pack

We recommend that you bring the following items with you:

  • A fleece or other warm layer;
  • Hiking trousers with zip off shorts are a good idea, as day time temperatures can be quite warm, yet temperatures plummet as soon as the sun goes down. You can supplement these with leggings or thermals to wear underneath;
  • A rain poncho or waterproof jacket is also important. It can rain at any time of the year!;
  • Water-resistant trekking boots are advisable. The trail on this hike can sometimes be muddy and wet, so we also recommend to bring extra socks!;
  • A headlamp or torch;
  • A high factor (SPF) sunscreen, a sun cap and sunglasses. The sun can be really strong, especially in dry season. Sun protection is essential!;
  • A small daypack to carry your the items you need during the hike and at Machu Picchu.

For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Pack for the Inca Trail.

Our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru will also give you some great tips for how to get ready for your trek, before you even leave home.

Available Discounts

  • Students: USD $30 off, in certain circumstances. Please enquire for details about eligibility.
  • Youth 12-17: 5% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 5-11 years: 15% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 0-4 years: 75% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking. Children under 4 will not count towards the total number of guests in a group, but will be charged 25% of the per person price based on final group size. For example, a group of 4 adults and one child under 4: adults will be charged the full price per person based on a group size of 4 and the child will be charged 25% of the per person price for a group of 4. Children under 3 will not be considered to occupy a seat on any train or bus, and instead must ride on a parent’s lap. Car seats, cribs and other baby needs may not be included and must be discussed in advance. For more information about travelling with infants and toddlers, please see this blog as well as the Age Requirements section of our Booking Conditions.
  • 5% off a day tour listed price when you also book a 3-day or longer trek operated by Apus Peru

Guides & Safety on the Trail

Our whole trekking team is native to the Lares region and know the Inca Trail like the back of their hand! They are some of the warmest, endearing and wonderful people you are ever likely to meet.

Our guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.

Get to know our team!

Trekkers Wanted

Want to join a trek? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone! Visit the link to read more about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!

Note: Trekkers Wanted for the Inca Trail ONLY available while permits last for your departure date.

Important Info

General Information about Hiking with Apus Peru

  • Each guide has their own preferred route and so the route you trek might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
  • The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group, and the guide may change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group.
  • This is a non-camping trip, but still requires a degree of fitness and an adventurous spirit.

Booking Your Short Inca Trail Tour 2 Days

  • The Inca Trail is not open in February
  • A scanned copy of your passport and a non-refundable deposit must be provided upon booking an Inca Trail trek. This is due to government regulations which require complete passport details and full payment of the Machu Picchu entrance fee in order to issue a permit. Your reservation will only be confirmed when we have your entrance ticket in our hands.
  • If your passport number changes after you book, you must tell us immediately or you may lose your booking. If the name or number on your passport is different from the name or number on your Inca Trail permit, you will not be allowed to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund.
  • You must carry your original passport with you on the trail.
  • If you booked a Short Inca Trail tour at a student rate, you must bring your valid student card on the trail with you. If you do not present your student card, you will not be allowed to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund, nor given an opportunity to pay the full rate.

Extras & Upgrades on the Short Inca Trail Tour

  • If you’d like to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain , let us know at the time of booking as it requires a separate permit.
  • Porters are not included on this tour. You are expected to carry your own things, including your boxed lunch on Day 1. If you do not wish to carry your own things, you should hire a porter.
  • This trek includes transportation by train from Km 104 to Aguas Calientes and from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo on the Expedition service (Tourist Class), followed by private ground transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco. If you’d like more flexibility in your return travel to Cusco, consider upgrading to the Vistadome train service (Executive Class) for an extra $35 per person. This upgrade must be requested at time of booking.

Ready to Book?

Does this trek sound like just what you were looking for? If you’re ready to book or just want to find out a bit more information, fill out the Inquiry Form in the top right-hand corner of this page to get the ball rolling. You’ll be connected with one of our amazing sales people who will be able to turn your dream of hiking in the Andes into a reality. For more information on the entire booking process, please see our How To Book page.


Travel insurance is a must! World Nomads offers travel insurance for adventure activities.

2 Days Short Inca Trail Elevation Map

2 Day Inca Trail Itinerary

Day 1Cusco - Km 104 - Wiñay Wayna - Machu Picchu

  • Total Walking Distance: 13 km (8 mi)
  • Total Walking Time: 7 hours
  • Minimum Altitude: 2050m (6725 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 2700m (8858 ft)


Train to Km104, the start of the One Day Inca Trail Hike

We start early (5:00 AM!) as we travel by car from Cusco to the Ollantaytambo train station. You should ask your hotel in advance about preparing a box breakfast to take with you on the journey. If you are not keen on such an early start, ask us about staying in Ollantaytambo or Yanahuara the night before your hike.

From Ollantaytambo, we travel by train on a very picturesque route for 1.5h until we reach kilometer 104, the start of the Short Inca Trail for us. Shortly after crossing the bridge over the Vilcanota River we visit the site of Chachabamba (2050m / 6725 ft), a lovely archaeological site with water channels and fountains.

From here, we will hike upwards for about 5km (3 mi), approximately 3.5 hours. This part of the Inca Trail is well established, but there are many stairs and the hike is mostly upwards! There are also some sharp drops down towards the river which can be challenging for those who don’t like heights. While this is one of the shortest treks around the Cusco region, it is definitely not the easiest, especially in the hot sun. You still need to have a reasonable level of fitness to complete it.

A steep climb to Wiñay Wayna, then Inti Punku to Machu Picchu

Following our upwards climb, we arrive at the Inca site Wiñay Wayna (“forever young”) (2700m / 8858 ft). This is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector, and an urban sector. Many consider this the most impressive site on the whole Inca Trail!

After lunch, we continue for about another hour and a half across undulating terrain until we arrive at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate (2730m / 8,956 ft). There is a final, steep climb up stone steps until we reach this point, where you will have your first dramatic view of Machu Picchu (2400m / 7,874 ft).

We’ll have a moment to capture those classic photos, then we will walk down the last part of the trail towards the ancient city itself. Before entering Machu Picchu, we will take a side path off the trail to where we will catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes, as we will visit Machu Picchu on Day 2.

After checking into our Aguas Calientes hotel for the night, we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner and then it’s off to bed, in preparation for the next day’s early start.

Day 2Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

Getting to Machu Picchu

After a restful night’s sleep in your comfortable hotel, you will have time for a delicious breakfast at a reasonable hour before we make our way to the bus stop at 7:15 AM. At Apus Peru, we believe that having time to rest and have a good breakfast are important; if you get up too early, you might be too tired to really enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime visit to Machu Picchu.

We will have to wait in line for a bit to board the bus up to this marvellous site, but we will arrive in time for an 8 AM entry. 8 o’clock is the best time to visit Machu Picchu because any fog or clouds that often obscure the site in the morning will have burned off by this time, and the site is likely to be a little less busy. It’s the best time of day to visit Machu Picchu, with great views, and a window of time between the Classic Inca Trail hikers and the day trippers arriving by train at around 11 AM or 12 noon. If you book late or have different requirements, we may need to buy a different entry time.

Your Machu Picchu Tour

Once we reach Machu Picchu, your guide will give you a 2 hour walking tour of the historic citadel.  After the tour has completed, we will head to the Tinkuy Restaurant located inside the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge hotel and enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch while you reflect on our visit.

Then we will take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (if you are feeling adventurous you can walk, but your bus ticket is included) where there are lots of markets for keen shoppers while you wait for your train.

We will take a 2-hour train ride to Ollantaytambo and then connect with our private transport back to Cusco. (Total travel time is around 4 hours). Our carefully planned itinerary sees you travelling during the day, getting to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Urubamba Valley and the Sacred Valley mountains.

Feeling Adventurous?

If so, you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes, and your Travel Consultant will discuss how adding one of these Machu Picchu hikes may change the itinerary on Day 2 of your 2-day Inca Trail hike.

Not sure which hike to choose? While Huayna Picchu is the more famous of the two hikes, we think that Machu Picchu Mountain offers better views, plus an incredible understanding of why the Incas built this sacred city in such a special place. For more details about each hike, see our Machu Picchu Hikes blog.

For more tips on what to see, check out our Comprehensive Guide on Visiting Machu Picchu.

Want even more time to explore?

Ask your Travel Consultant about adding an extra day at Machu Picchu.



7 Reviews
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Solo Traveller

[Our guide Arturo] is a very kind person, and assertive when he needs to be. The boxed lunch was so good! [Apus Peru] met all our needs.

2 October, 2023

Bridgit G. (UK)

Couple Traveller

Care of people was evident & excellent.

22 April, 2023

Jeff and Jen K.

Family Traveller

The hike to Machu Picchu was amazing. [Our guide] Erick was fabulous and very attentive to our baby which made us feel extra taken care of.

5 December, 2022

Rita B. from US

Family Traveller

The short inca trail was very educational with beautiful scenery and vegetation, and the physical was moderate (very doable). We particularly loved learning about inca history, traditions, architecture and agricultural expertise from our guide; it was very edifying and inspiring.

30 September, 2018

Amory M. from US

Family Traveller

Our family of 10, ages 8-75, took the KM 104 Inka Trail two day hike and it was absolutely perfect. We boarded the train in Ollantaytambo and got off the train about 1 hr before reaching Machu Picchu. We then hiked the last leg of the Inka Trail through the high jungle and arrived at Machu Picchu by 3 pm. We had a wonderful hike and arrived through the Sun Gate seeing Machu Picchu as the Inka’s did. We spent that night in Aguas Calientes and then spent the next day exploring the ruins. We each packed a little overnight pack for that night then returned to Ollantaytambo where we’d left our bags the next Eve. We then continued our tour of the Sacred Valley. Apus Peru made sure everything went smoothly.

2 September, 2018

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