The short Inka Trail Trek to Machu Picchu Travel – Inca Trail 2 days is the most famous trek of South America. Experts have described it as one of the 5 best treks around the world.
Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is as incredible as any other hike since it has everything to amaze you. For example, the lush landscapes, the unique flora, and fauna will leave you breathless. Majestic monuments that hide Inca mysteries, stunning landscapes surrounded by mountain ranges from where you can observe the Wiñay Huayna. There are plenty of things that you will appreciate in a 10 km or 6,3 miles hike.
The icing on the cake comes at the end of the hike when you visit Machu Picchu, the Mysterious “Lost city of the Incas” and Wonder of the world. There is no doubt that the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is a wonderful hike, not complex but full of unique adventures you will treasure forever.
Where is the Inka Trail trek to Machu Picchu located?
The start point of the 2 day/1 night Inca Trail network is located at the checkpoint of Chachabamba km 104, district of Machu Picchu, province of Urubamba, region of Cusco.
What is the altitude in the Inca Trail 2 days Machu Picchu Travel?
Along the 2-day hike, you will walk through different terrains, and experience diverse microclimates and altitudes. Therefore, all of these factors contribute to the great biodiversity that is unique to this area.
- Lowest altitude is 2050 m / 6561 ft – Aguas Calientes town (last day)
- Highest altitude is 2680m / 8792 ft – Wiñay Huayna (first day)
What is the Climate Like in the Inca Trail 2 days Machu Picchu Travel?
Cusco has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy. However, in these two seasons you can experience different microclimates of each town. The microclimate varies according to the altitude you are at.
Having that said, you will notice that the climate in Machu Picchu and along the way varies constantly. You will hike from an altitude of 2200 m.a.s.l. to 2680 m.a.s.l.
It is from November to April. During this time Cusco receives a greater amount of rainfall. Average daytime temperatures are higher than the dry season at 23 °C while night temperatures can be as cold as 6 °C. Certainly, annual rainfall is 160 mm. During these months, it is cloudy and humidity can reach 91%.
So, the season is from May to October. Days are bright and sunny with a temperature of 22 °C (61 °F) while nights are much colder sometimes with a low temperature of 0 °C. Certainly, annual rainfall is 60mm. It is sunny with a clear sky and 70% of humidity.
Attractions Short Inca Trail
Tourist Attractions along the Machu Picchu Travel
The Inca Trail 2 days Machu Picchu travel includes beautiful places. Among the tourist attractions, we can name archaeological remains and natural areas that are found on the route.
Chachabamba 2200 m / 7218 ft:
This archeological site probably was a control point and access to Machu Picchu. It is believed to have religious and vigilance functions. There are buildings that are made of stone and enclosures of well-preserved infrastructure. The name possibly comes from 2 Quechua words. “Chacha” means hives or bites, and “Bamba” means valley or place. Therefore Chacha means valley where mosquitos bite.
Wiñay Huayna 2680 m / 8792 ft:
A magnificent archeological site that is on the mountain slope. Its name comes from Quechua words that means “Forever Young”. You can notice that this site was a small town for its constructions. There is a main yard surrounded by terraces that were used for agricultural purposes and also as retaining walls. This is just a magic and historical place.
Inti Punku 2730 m / 8956 ft:
The site used as the entrance door to Machu Picchu citadel during the Inca time. Its name comes from the Quechua words and means “Sun gate”. It consists of enclosures with windows and a main door. From this point, you can have the first and amazing view of Veronica snow-capped mountain and Machu Picchu citadel.
Machu Picchu elevation 2400 m / 7873 ft:
The name of the impressive Machu Picchu Inca citadel comes from the Quechua words and means “Old Mountain” and it is the last destination of most hikes. It surprises the visitor with the greatness of its architecture and engineering. The architecture of its buildings is unique. You can observe: the religious enclosures, enclosures for the Inca and the urban area. The other area is for agriculture in which you can notice the terraces on the slopes of the mountain that also work as retaining walls. There is an irrigation system with aqueducts in the whole citadel.
Aguas Calientes 2050 m / 6561 ft:
Town located at the Urubamba riverside. It is the main access to Machu Picchu citadel. Here you can the railway and the hot springs of Aguas Calientes. There is also a craft market. The weather is warm and humid since it is located in the Eyebrow of the Jungle.
Ollantaytambo – 2750 m / 8950 ft:
Very important old Inca town. It was the main crossing point to get to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Here you find the archeological site of Ollantaytambo, which has an exquisite Inca architecture. You can observe the temple of the sun, the Ñusta’s Bath” (Princess’ Bath), the enclosures in the Pinkuylluna hill and impressive terraces. There is also a typical craft market and the train station to Aguas Calientes.
Itinerary of the 2 Day/1 Night short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The 2-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an excellent option for all of those who have limited time, or are not able to do the Classic Inca Trail since it reaches a higher altitude and is more challenging. Short Inca Trail has stunning landscapes, a great variety of flora and fauna, and a tour of the most beautiful site of the Inca Trail, Wiñay Huayna. It is here where you will enjoy one of the best parts of the Inca Trail in just a full day hike.
For years the ‘Inca trail’ or ‘Qhapaq Ñan’ has been considered one of the best hikes around the world for its history and cultural richness. However, it must not be confused with the great Qhapaq Ñan network, which included different countries in South America. The short Inca trail to Machu Picchu only covers an area of 10 km. It is the best way how to do the abridged Machu Picchu inka trail hike.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu starts in Cusco city, from where we will drive to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Then, we will take the train to the start point known as km 104. The 1 hour ride allows you to enjoy the beautiful Andean view. Our adventure starts in the bank of the Urubamba river. From there we will start the uphill hike until we get to the original Inca Trail which starts in the Wiñay Huayna zone. Then, we will head to the “Sungate” (Inti Punku) and finally, arrive in Machu Picchu.
The trail is located in the eyebrow of the jungle, we will hike through the exuberant and greenish landscapes of cloud forests. This route includes mountains covered by a great variety of plants, flowers and birds. We could also appreciate mammals such as Vizcachas (agile and graceful rodents very similar to the rabbit) and spectacled bears (if we are lucky).
Therefore, we continue the hike until we get to the Sungate (Inti Punku) from where you can observe Machu Picchu at sunset. Then, we go downhill through a stone paved path to Machu Picchu citadel. This path ends at the famous “Viewpoint” at the top of the citadel. From there, we have to walk to Aguas Calientes town to do our hotel check-in and have dinner.
Lodging: Hotel in Aguas Calientes town
Hiking Distance – 10 km / 6.21 miles
- From Km 104 to Wiñay Huayna (lunch site), it takes 4 hours
- From Wiñaywayna to Machu Picchu (viewpoint), it takes 2 hours
Level difficulty: Moderate
This is the most important day. After a good night’s sleep, we will get up early in the morning and take one of the first buses to Machu Picchu. Our objective is to arrive early and have the first visiting shift of the site. Once in Machu Picchu, you will have a 2-hour guided tour. During the guided tour, you will learn more about the Incas and visit the most important areas of the citadel.
After your visit to the citadel, you can hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Montaña, given that you have the tickets bought in advance. In the afternoon, we will take the train back to Ollantaytambo. It is here where we will pick you up and take you to Cusco in our private van.
Hiking Distance – 9 km / 5.59 miles
- The guided tour in Machu Picchu lasts 2 hours approximately.
- From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, it takes 25 minutes
Level Difficulty: Easy
Fauna and Flora
Flora and Fauna in the Inca Trail 2 days to Machu Picchu
The Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu presents a great biological diversity that can be found along the Inka Trail trek 2 days. In the Inca Trail Machu Picchu travel, you will go through different forests such as tropical rainforest, pluvial tundra, montane forest, subtropical rainforest.
Regarding the flora, you can find more than 300 different species. For instance, there are more than 300 species. Wildlife in the sanctuary is as wide as the flora since there are more than 400 different species living in the distinct altitudes.
- Molle (Schinus molle)
- Queñua Trees (Plylepis pauta, P. serícea, P. racemosa y P. peppei)
- Floripondio (Brugmansia arbórea)
- Yahuarchonka Mount (oenothera rosea)
- Nicotina Tormentosa or Wooly Ornamental Tobacco (Khamato Solanaceae)
- Tree-ferns (Cyathea Caracasana)
- Ayac Zapatilla (Calceolaria Chrysosphaera)
- Tucnay (Hyptidendron arboreum)
- Aña Pancu – (Echinopsis Maximiliana)
- Sunchu (Encelia canescens)
- Clavel del Aire (Tillandsia Fendleri)
- Chimpu Chimpu (Fuchsia Boliviana)
- Begonia (Begonia bracteosa)
- Oqa Oqa (Oxalis spiralis)
- Morning Glory (Cobaea scandens)
Orchids on the route:
- Angulosa Virginalis
- Sobralia Dichotoma
- Choclo Choclo (Elleanihus Capitatus)
- Waqanki (Masdevallia Veitchiana) – ‘it has a local legend’
- Wiñaywayna (Epidendrum Secundum)
- Trichopilia Frayans
The main species during the Machu Picchu travel are the following:
- Spectacled Bear (tremarctos ornatus)
- Taruka or Deer (mazam chung)
- Giant otter or River Wolf (lontra longicaudis)
- Llama (Lama glama)
- Alpaca (Vicugna pacos)
- Andean Jergon (Bothrops andianus)
- Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas)
- Cock of the Rocks (rupicola peruviana)
- Black Backed Grosbeak (Pheucticus aueroventris)
- Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus)
- Green-tailed Trainbearer (Lesbia nuna)
- Blue-and-yellow Tanager (Thraupis bonariensis)
- Royal Cinclodes (cinclodes aricomae)
- Torrent Duck (merganetta armata)
About Machu Picchu
Permits and restrictions in Machu Picchu
The permits or entrance ticket for the Inca Trail includes the entrance to Machu Picchu citadel, but it does not include the entrance to the extra hikes to the mountains from where you can see the citadel from above.
For example, the ticket for Huayna Picchu mountain costs $85 USD per person. In case, you want to hike it you have to buy the entrance ticket to the mountain in advance.
The visiting time in Machu Picchu citadel is an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. This is enough time to visit the main circuit that includes the most important sites of the historical sanctuary.
Once the guided tour is over, you won’t have much time to visit the site on your own. However, if you have bought the entrance tickets for either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, the extra hikes, you will have the chance to enter the site a second time.
Huayna Picchu: Average time of the hike is 1 hour and 45 minutes roundtrip. The climb is steep and has small stairs. Therefore, this extra hike is not recommendable for children.
Machu Picchu Mountain: Average time of the hike is 2 hours and a half roundtrip. This extra hike is more recommendable for people who travel with children. This option is not that recommendable for you since on day 1, you will walk part of the path that takes you to the summit of Machu Picchu Mountain.
When you arrive in Aguas Calientes town on day 1, you will have the chance to leave your things at the storage room of the hotel before you go to Machu Picchu on day 2. After the tour, you have to pick up your belongings and then go to the train station.
Keep in mind the restrictions to enter Machu Picchu. Among them, we can mention one that prohibits backpacks weighing more than 8 kg or exceeding the maximum dimensions of 40 x 35 x 20 cm.
The government has established a place where you can store your belongings without paying for this service. There is another place where you can leave your belongings, but it has a cost of S/ 5.00 per person. Most visitors prefer the second option. They feel that paying guarantees more security than the free option. However, both places are adequate for leaving your belongings.
NOTE: Both storages are located at the entrance of Machu Picchu.
Something important that any traveler must be aware of are the regulations of the Inca Trail that entities such as SERNANP and DDC-Cusco have established in order to preserve the route. Therefore, we will mention some of the main regulations to hike the Inka Trail trek Machu Picchu travel:
- You aren’t allowed to hike the Inca Trail on your own. To hike the Inca Trail, you need to hire the service of a licensed tour operator.
- You can’t buy the permits on your own. Only licensed tour operators can get the tickets for you.
- Groups shouldn’t exceed 16 tourists. If they are more than 10 people in the group, there must be an extra assistant.
- Permits have to be bought in advance since there are limited spots. You can’t buy permits at the checkpoint.
- It is not permitted to camp at unauthorized sites.
- Waste is discarded at the end of the hike.
- Drones and tripods aren’t allowed.
- Firearms and hunting and fishing gear are prohibited.
- Don’t bring alcoholic beverages, stimulants, psychotropics, and other drugs.
It is important to be aware of these regulations and follow them. If not, park rangers will approach you and you will receive a fine for any damage caused.
About the Hike
What you need to know about the Inca Trail 2 days to Machu Picchu
Actually, there is no government restriction on the age limit for the inka trail trek. However, because of the challenging trek, we consider it to be best for visitors above 15 years old to 55-year-old adults. Of course, they must be in good physical condition.
In case a child travels with you, you may need to hire the service of a personal porter who will assist your child along the hike and carry his backpack. This service has an extra cost. Remember to ask for it on your briefing day.
Anyone who wants to secure his permits must book it in advance. It is wiser to book it at least 4 – 5 months in advance. Permits are sold fast especially for months of the dry season.
The months of high season, where tickets are sold fast, are May, June, and July; then, April, March, and August, followed by September and October. Every February, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed due to maintenance.
Training in advance is the key to succeed on hiking the Inca Trail. Without it, you may not be able to complete the circuit since the trail presents different types of terrain to finally arriving in Machu Picchu.
Performing some activities at home or at the gym will make the difference. You can do activities that make the legs, arms, heart and back work. It is recommendable to start training at least 3 or months before your travel date. Breathing exercises can strengthen chest muscles and make breathing easier during the hike. This way, you won’t suffer from altitude sickness.
We highly recommend arriving some days before you start the inka trail trek machu picchu travel. This will help you acclimatize to the altitude of Cusco gradually (3400 m.a.s.l.). Depending on your availability, you can stay one or more days in Lima.
Otherwise, arriving 2 or three days in advance in Cusco will be enough to acclimate. Take advantage of these days visiting sites around the city as long as they are not challenging.
Most likely, you will experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness in Cusco. If you live in a place that’s located at a moderately high altitude, you get used to the air pressure. But, if you travel to a place at a higher altitude, say above 2,500 meters (8,000 ft), your body will need time to adjust to the change in pressure. Some tourists usually have headache, shortness of breath, nausea, among other symptoms.
There is no need to worry since symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better within a day or two as your body adjusts to the change in altitude.
Note the following tips that can help you cope with altitude sickness:
- Drink lots of water.
- Abstain from drinking alcohol on the first day in Cusco.
- Don’t eat red meat the first days.
- Eat fruits or mild soups.
- Coca tea is completely safe to drink and a cup or two each day can ease altitude symptoms. Just remember coca is a mild stimulant so don’t go over the top and drink cup loads.
There are restrooms in the Inka Trail trek, but you should know that they are located at the places listed below:
- Km 104 Entrance door
- Wiñay Huayna
- Machu Picchu Entrance door
At the 2 first places listed above, the restrooms are free. That is to say, you won’t pay anything to use them. However, you will have to pay when you use the restroom in Machu Picchu citadel.
There is no drinking water on the first day of the Inka Trail trek. However, some agencies provide bottled water. In case they don’t provide water, you should bring bottled water or a camelback.
For the second day of the tour, you can buy water at any store in Aguas Calientes town. Or you can ask the hotel to refill your camelback.
Tips to book the Inca Trail
How to book the 2-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
To start, you should know that there are hundreds of licensed tour operators that can take you on the Inca Trial. However, not all of them offer a high quality service or provide all the equipment needed for the trek.
Therefore, we recommend doing some research about the best tour operators in Cusco. Being well informed will prevent from being tricked by unscrupulous agencies.
One way to find the perfect agency for you is by asking relatives or travelers for recommendations. Likewise, you can check their posts and reviews on different traveling websites. You can also check different online platforms such as:
Most of these platforms often show reasonable prices and offers from the most well known tour operators. They also include itineraries, packages of many days. You will definitely find one that meets all your needs and suits your plans.
You should be aware that since there are many Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour operators, many offer appealing prices that can call your attention. This may be in a group service that includes a lot of people.
The cost of a Inca Trail hike that you may find goes from USD$380 to USD$600. However, the most recommendable agencies that guarantee a high quality service cost from USD$450 – USD$600.
Consequently, if you opt for a cheaper agency, not only you won’t have a good quality service, but also the staff won’t be receiving a fair salary, which is not OK considering the hard work they do on this kind of hikes. Don’t forget to ask in advance what is or not included in the Inca trail 2 days travel to Machu Picchu.
There are limited spots for the Inca Trail 2 days Machu Picchu travel, only 200 spots per day. These spots are not only for tourists but for guides, too.
Before booking your tour with any licensed tour operator, make sure there are spots available for your desired date. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do Inka Trail trek. Remember that permits are sold fast during high season.
You can do the Inca Trail 2 days from March to January, but due to maintenance of the Inca Trail network in February is it not possible to visit it. This is organized by the competent authorities.
To hike the fantastic Inka Trail trek machu picchu travel, you need to bring your personal identification documents. The names in the permits must match with the information in your documents. Therefore, make sure you provide accurate information to the agency you are booking the tour with. If the information is not accurate, you won’t be able to do the Inca Trail 2 days.
- Valid original Passport
- Identity card
- National Identity card (DNI)
- Student card (if you you want a discount)
Similarly, you must bring with you any of these personal documents that you used at the moment of booking. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do the Inca Trail 2 days. Make sure you have your personal documents with you all the time. Put them in a safe place before and during the hike.
Note: If you have updated your passport some days prior to the trek, you have to let the agency know and ask them to update the new information. If possible, bring both the old and new passports. You should also send a copy of both the old and new passports to the agency.
There is a small discount that the Culture Ministry gives to minors or students who have a valid student card. In other words, a student card is considered valid if it shows the following features:
- PVC Material
- Name of the university
- Full name
- Student photo
- Expiration date, which has to be the year that the student visits Machu Picchu (NOT a year early or later to the visit date)
Note: To apply for the student’s discount, you shouldn’t be over 25 years old.
Recommended Equipment for the Inka Trail Trek Machu Picchu Travel
Certainly, agencies which offer you a complete service provide certain equipment facilities. On the briefing day, the guide will give you more information about what to bring inside your backpack. Therefore, we recommend packing light, only most essential things.
- 2 short or long sleeved polo shirts
- 1 pair of trekking pants
- 2 pairs of socks
- 1 warm jacket
- 1 rain jacket or rain poncho
- Gloves, scarf and a beanie
- Hats for the sun
- Trekking shoes
- Some snacks
- Airtight Plastic bags (to organize your clothes)
- Portable device battery charger
Similarly, inside your backpack for Machu Picchu travel you should carry the following items that are essential for the inca trail 2 days:
- Pocket flashlight with spare batteries
- Snacks (dried fruits, candy, chocolate, etc.)
- Rain Poncho (NOT an umbrella)
- Hat for the sun
- Ear plugs
- Some cash
- Personal Documentation
- Music (to listen along the hike)
- Plastic bag for waste
You need to bring the following items that will be useful on the inca trail 2 days:
- Hand Sanitizer
- Alcohol gel
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Toothbrush and paste
- Sanitary pads or tampons.
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunscreen (FPS 60+)
- Face moisturizer
It is important to know the allowed weight because it will be you who carry it during the first day of the inca trail 2 days machu picchu travel. Moreover, note also the train weight policy. To clarify, trains don’t accept luggage that exceed 6 or 8 kg. We recommend weighing your things before traveling. Most hotels have scales to weigh your backpack or you can ask your tourist agency to lend you a scale and weigh your backpack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about the Inca Trail 2 days
The best season to do the Inca Trail 2 days is during the dry season. However, you should know that whether you come in the dry or rainy season, it will have advantages and disadvantages.
- If you do the Inka Trail trek from November to January, you won’t see as many tourists as during the other months. This is because the rainy season starts in November.
- If you do the Inca Trail 2 days from May to August, you will notice crowds of people, which means you won’t have that much privacy. However, the weather is pleasant and there is no rain.
Tips: It is important to pack light and consider the climate of the time of the year you are coming. Therefore, If it is during the rainy season, you need to buy a rain poncho and bring a raincoat. In addition, wear always sunscreen no matter the time of the year.
Although it is not mandatory to have travel insurance to do the Inka Trail trek, we highly recommend getting one. Likewise, this way you can prevent any inconvenience that can happen during your trip such as a flight delay, strikes in the country or city, a natural disaster, or getting sick during the machu picchu travel.
You should know that getting sick in Peru may be a bit more expensive than other countries. So, getting travel insurance will make you feel more secure. Certainly, Insurance companies normally charge you from 100 to 150 US Dollar. As a result, here you have a list of some insurance companies:
- World nomads
- Assist Card
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc (a leading company in the U.S)
- Allianz (the biggest insurance company in Germany and Europe)
- Ping An (a leading company in China)
- Metlife (well known in Europe and Spain)
- Berkley International
- Liberty Insurance
During the inka trail trek, you will not have Internet connection. Therefore, using a cellphone or any electronic device is not convenient in most places.
To keep in contact with the administrators of the tourist agency and inform them in case of a problem, or to check something important, we use radios or satellite phones.
- First day: You will have an internet connection in some parts of the hike given that you have CLARO or BITEL telephone operator.
- Second day: there is internet connection and you can make phone calls.
There is no need to bring all your luggage to the Inca Trail 2 days. So, you should only take the most essential things you will use during the machu picchu travel. Consequently, Pack light and organize the clothes you will wear each day of the hike. In addition, don’t forget to bring an extra pair of shoes, raincoat, a hat, among others.
Most agencies include food in the total cost of inka trail trek. Certainly, they give a box lunch for day 1. Therefore, if you have any dietary restriction, you have to inform the travel agent or the guide on your briefing day at the latest. This way, the chef can make any adjustment on the menu for you. Most importantly, we cater to vegetarians, vegans and any food allergies.
For any additional expenses that you may have during the 2-day hike, you need to have some extra cash in the local currency which is Soles peruanos. That is to say, you may need to buy bottled water, cookies, or other snacks, toilet paper, etc. Note that locals during the inca trail 2 days only accept Soles Peruanos.
We recommend bringing between S/ 150 – S/ 200 per person. You may wonder why you need to bring more money if everything is included. If that is your case, you need to read the services you have hired carefully, what is or is not included. Certainly, some agencies don’t provide lunch and dinner on the second day of the inca trail 2 days Machu Picchu travel.
You will find the trekking poles very useful since they provide 2 more points of support which will help you walk safely. Especially on steep and rocky slopes or when going downhill during the inka trail trek.
Likewise, this trekking equipment used properly will help you keep the balance of your body through the inca trail 2 days. That is why we recommend asking your guide for using the trekking poles according to the different types of terrain you will hike through.
All the extra luggage that you have brought for your trip to Peru can be stored in the storage room of the hotel that you are staying at. Also, you should ask the receptionist first. In case, the hotel doesn’t have a storage room, you can leave your luggage in the storage room of our agency at no additional cost.
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