Short Inca Trail 2 days – Travel guide

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The Short Inca Trail is shortened option of the 4-day Inca Trail is the best for travelers who want to explore Machu Picchu on foot but don’t have much time or desire to camp and do long hikes each day, yet still visit the last part of this important trail. Now, let us tell you all about the 2-day Inca Trail:

Table of Contents

Where does the 2-day Inca Trail start?

The short Inca Trail begins at kilometer 104 of the railway that leads to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo. To reach the checkpoint, it is necessary to take a train for almost 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo to Chachabamba.

Summary of the 2-day Inca Trail

We will take the bus to Ollantaytambo, from here the train will take us to KM 104 and we will start the ascent along a stepped path to the archaeological site of Wiñay Wayna. Then we will reach the Sun Gate, from there we will see the citadel of Machu Picchu in the distance. On our last day, we will take a bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Once inside, we will explore the citadel, observing its streets and walls of various architectural styles. Later, we will return to the town of Aguas Calientes and from there, start the return to the city of Cusco.

Day-by-Day Description of the 2-day Inca Trail

Day 1| Cusco - Ollantaytambo - KM 104 - Wiñay Wayna - Inti Punku - Aguas Calientes

Today we will start the journey by bus for an hour and a half from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Once we arrive, we will board the train to KM 104 and here we will start the hike ascending for three hours to Wiñay Wayna, a site considered as the little Machu Picchu. Later, we will walk along a stone stepped path to reach the archaeological center of Wiñay Wayna, where we will explore agricultural terraces, urban constructions, temples, and water channels. Near this place, we will also enjoy our delicious lunch.

Next, we will head for an hour to the Sun Gate (2,720 m / 8,924 feet), the highest point of the hike. From there, we will see the citadel of Machu Picchu and the Huayna Picchu mountain in the distance. After resting and taking amazing photos at this site, we will descend to the point where the bus awaits us to take us to the town of Aguas Calientes for 25 minutes. Later, we will have dinner at a restaurant and spend the night at a hostel.

Starting altitude: 2,100 m / 6,890 feet
Minimum altitude: 2,100 m / 6,890 feet
Maximum altitude: 2,720m / 8,924 feet

Day 2 | Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco

Today is the big day! Finally, we will visit the citadel of Machu Picchu. We will start early by having breakfast at the hostel and then board the bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Once inside, our guide will explain the incredible features of this place, and we will have a comprehensive guided tour, exploring the citadel with its streets and walls of various architectural styles.

After exploring this wonderful citadel, we will return to the town of Aguas Calientes for lunch. In the afternoon, we will take the train back to the Ollantaytambo station and then board the bus back to Cusco.

Starting altitude: 2,040 m / 6,693 feet
Minimum altitude: 2,040 m / 6,693 feet
Maximum altitude: 2,430m / 7,972 feet

Pros and Cons of the 2-day Inca 

Many people think that by doing a shortened hike, there aren't many good things to see; however, there are many advantages to be gained from this hike:

Short Inca Trail 2 days
Pros Shortened hiking time
Accommodation in a hostel in Aguas Calientes
Entry to Machu Picchu for sunset
Visit Machu Picchu twice
Cons You only visit the last part of the Inca Trail
You don't have the camping experience among the mountains
You have a box lunch instead of served meals

Why do you love this trip?

  • Walking through breathtaking landscapes and ancient sites.
  • Guided tours ensure a deep understanding of the history of Machu Picchu.
  • Explore the best archaeological sites of Chachabamba and Wiñayhuayna during the Inca Trail day.
  • Exclusive visit to Machu Picchu in the afternoon of day 1.
  • Early morning guided tour and free exploration at Machu Picchu on day 2.

What season is best for visiting the 2-day Inca Trail?

Undoubtedly, the best season to visit the 2-day Inca Trail is during the dry season from May to September. You won't encounter much rain and you'll be able to walk without any problems.

Can I do the 2-day Inca Trail on my own?

Unfortunately, no. The Inca Trail is a protected area by the SERNANP, so it's only possible to visit the 2-day Inca Trail with an authorized travel agency like Magic Experiences.

How far in advance should I book my Inca Trail?

It is recommended to book at least 2 months in advance as permits during the high season tend to sell out very quickly. It is worth mentioning that the Inca Trail is closed in February, so we do not recommend planning a trip around these dates.

Is it necessary to be very fit?

We recommend that individuals embarking on this journey can at least walk without many limitations or difficulties on inclines. It is necessary to acclimatize ourselves at least 2 to 3 days beforehand to avoid altitude sickness. The first day is the day when we will walk the most, so you should be ready for this day.

Is the short Inca Trail difficult?

Actually, no, it's not very challenging since the hike is tough only on day 1, approximately 7 hours walking in a total of 16 kilometers with both ascents and descents. The terrain can be somewhat steep but not impossible to navigate.

Do you recommend bringing a walking stick?

Yes, walking sticks help support our knees on inclines and declines, so if you can, opt for using walking sticks; don't think twice. Remember that since it's a protected network of trails, it's necessary for the walking stick to have a protective rubber tip.

Will I be able to find signal during the Inca Trail?

Unfortunately, from the beginning until reaching the lunch point at Wiñayhuayna, there is no phone signal. We recommend buying a Claro or Bitel SIM card that does have phone signal in that campground.

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