Highlights of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The main attraction the 2 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the chance to walk part of the Inca Trail at a comfortable pace and without the difficulty of the high altitude section of the trail. You will get to walk in the footsteps of the Inca, visit marvelous Inca constructions along the trail, see your first glimpse of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate and arrive by foot to Machu Picchu. The Short Inca Trail route winds upward and enters directly into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, just like the Classic Inca Trail. The hiker will enjoy unforgettable views of the valleys below, the surrounding mountains, and trek through lush cloud forests, ending up at the magnificent New 7th Wonder of the World: the Machu Picchu Citadel!
Trekkers on the 2 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu have the privilege of seeing the Ancient Machu Picchu City two times, in the afternoon of the 1st day, when they arrive to Machu Picchu and the second day when they take a tour with their guide in the morning. The second day, they will be transported by shuttle bus from the town of Aguas Calientes, also called Machu Picchu Pueblo, just in time for the sunrise over the mountains and Machu Picchu (2,400m/7,907ft). From there, they begin their exploration of the natural world and ancient culture of the Citadel of Machu Picchu, catching themselves traveling back in time to this magical, sacred, and mysterious place, known as Machu Picchu, “The Old Sacred Mountain.” They must take their time to explore the majestic Machu Picchu with its Inca ruins rich in the past history and thriving culture of the people who once lived there.
Why hike the 2 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
- Hike the last 1/3 of the famous Classic Inca Trail, that is on bucket lists worldwide.
- Explore Winay Wayna, an amazing and unique Inca archeological site.
- Trek the actual trail that the Ancient Incas hiked more than 600 years ago.
- Hike through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) all the way to famous Machu Picchu Citadel.
- Experience the spectacular views of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.
- Visit Machu Picchu Citadel twice, the 1st and 2nd days of the trek.
Short Inca Trail Map
Times are approximately and depends on your fitness. Permits need to be booked way in advance!
Top 2 Day Inca Trail Operators to Machu Picchu!
The list of the top 2 day Inca Trail Operators takes a variety of recommendations into account, including Machu Picchu tour companies that are featured regularly in the latest Peru travel guidebooks, review sites, travel forums, as well as some personal insight.
All of these companies are based in Peru, so they will have more firsthand knowledge of the itinerary they are selling you and the money you spend should stay in Peru. All these companies offer alternative treks to Machu Picchu, as well as various other tours around Cusco and beyond.
Peru Treks & Adventure
Founded in 2002, Peru Treks focuses exclusively on the four day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. Their two day itinerary benefits from this expertise. This specialization has served the company well, earning Peru Treks positive reviews from their clients.
SAM Travel Peru
SAM Travel Peru is another highly professional tour & trekking company that focuses on both young and older travelers alike, making sure everyone makes it to their intended destination. A key feature offered by SAM Travel is small group sizes. They never exceed ten trekkers per group, unlike many operators who will happily reach the maximum group limit of 16 people. What’s more, the company’s Peruvian owner, Saul Alvarez, has been working along the Inca Trail since the age of 18, including as porter and a guide.
Orange Nation Peru
For a while, this relatively new, start-up company has been on my list of other Inca Trail tour operators to consider. The tour guides, porters and cooks have shares in the company, with people earning a fair amount for their level of contribution. The company has also had plenty of excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. Definitely, one to consider.
Enigma Adventure offers group Inca Trail treks at a mid-range price, but they’re really known for their private luxury treks. These personalized treks are more than double the price of typical 4 day/3 night treks to Machu Picchu, but you’ll be hiking in style with excellent service and gourmet food. Not for budget travelers, but worth considering if you want something a little more extravagant (maybe for a honeymoon).
Sun Gate Tours
A Peruvian-owned Cusco-based tour operator founded in 2004, Sun Gate Tours ticks most if not all of the boxes for a solid and affordable Inca Trail option. No frills, perhaps, but it gets the job done in a reliable and conscientious way.
Wayki Trek was formed in 1998 by a group of experienced tour guides from different rural communities in the Cusco Region. A key feature offered by Wayki Trek is small group sizes. They never exceed eight trekkers per group, unlike many operators who will happily reach the maximum group limit of 16 people. You get plenty of local experience combined with small groups. What’s not to like?
2 DAY INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU – ITINERARY
CUSCO – 104 KMS – WIÑAYHUAYNA-SUN GATE-MACHU PICCHU
With a compacted 2 days of excitement ahead, we will pick you up from your hotel at 4:00am and drive you to the train station. After an hour and ten minute scenic Expedition train ride to 104 kms point (elevation 2,100m/6,927ft) we arrive at the place where we begin our trek. At this point we begin a moderate climb for three hours to the chiseled remnants and remote archaeological site of Wiñayhuana, (2,650m/8747 ft). Enjoy the spectacular plunging views of the Urubamba Canyon, and the ethnic wonders of the ancient Inca sites, as you embrace them with an open mind and heart your connection with the ancient Inca Trail will begin. After your being at one with this beautiful sight, we will continue onward towards the Sun Gate. (2,730mts/9,007ft) Following the ancient remote footpath we get our first spectacular view of Machu Picchu Citadel in all its brilliance and majesty. As we move closer to the citadel of Machu Picchu you will feel her mystical presence. Then we will take our bus to Aguas Calientes, where we will spend the night in our hotel.
- Meals: Box Lunch & Dinner.
- Accommodation: Wiracocha Inn Hotel or Andean Terra Hotel
- Difficulty: Moderate.
AGUAS CALIENTES-MACHU PICCHU-CUSCO
Today you will get to enjoy exploring Machu Picchu and experience her magical presence by taking the first bus at 5:30AM to the Machu Picchu archeological site. If you hurry you will get to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Take your time, making sure you tour every nook and cranny of this New 7 Wonder of the World and UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. It is an unforgettable experience.
Your guide will expertly direct you through the energetic ruins and its diverse main streets. Then on your own, wander around the town squares of the world’s spiritual center of esoteric wisdom as well as climb the intricately carved stairways made of stone. Or stay still and drink in the pure majesty of her presence, and enjoy the pure delight of the moment.
Here are a few of alternative activities that you might wish to indulge in on your own:
- Climb up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain and appreciate the beauty and magnificence of Machu Picchu (not included in your tour price and must be booked in advance.)
- You will be given some time to walk to the Sun Gate or Inti Punku (free of charge)
- Other optional activities in Aguas Calientes include a visit to the new local museum or to the hot springs (entrance fees required)
You will descend to Aguas Calientes when you are ready to eat lunch and later on board the Expedition train at 4:22pm for the return trip to Cusco stopping at the Ollantaytambo Train Station and you will be driven back to your hotel in Cusco from Ollantaytambo in our private van arriving at around 8pm.
- Meal: Breakfast
- Difficulty: Easy.
Huayna Picchu mountain ($75) and Machu Picchu mountain ($70) are available on this option BUT its has to be booked in advance and depends on availability.
Packing Check List of most top 2 day Inca Trail Operators
- Original passport (it has to be the same you have used for booking your trek)
- Good daypack (20-30 liters is recommended)
- Reusable water bottle (in an effort to reduce plastic waste, disposable bottles are not allowed)
- Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
- Toilet paper
- Windbreaker or warm jacket
- Layers, so you can take off warm clothes when hiking up and bundle up at the top
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes
- Personal medications
- Sun hat, wool wat (only in the cold season) and sunscreen
- Rain gear (if rainy season)
- Snacks like chocolate bars, cereal bars or any dry fruits
- Rain plastic poncho
- Extra money for souvenirs and tips
The weather on the trail
May through November is dry season. That does not mean that it never rains in the dry season but it is mostly dry with an occasional light shower.
The rainy season begins usually in December and last until April. In the rainy season, we have heavy tropical showers frequently.
The Cusco region has a tropical high mountainous type of weather. That means the weather can change quickly from sunshine to a rain shower within a few minutes. A few clouds form (usually in the afternoons), it can rain for a few minutes and then out comes the sun again. There is rarely rain all day long, only occasionally in the rainy season. The weather reports can very misleading. It can show that it is raining every day; but all that means is that somewhere in our mountainous region there will be a shower. It can be rainy in one area of the Cusco region and completely dry in another area. The higher the altitude, the faster storms and clouds move across, rapidly changing the weather.
On the Inca Trail, the weather depends on whether it is the rainy season or the dry season. The 2 day Inca Trail is at lower altitude than Cusco, by about 1,000 meters or about 3,000 feet lower. Thus it tends to be a bit warmer during the day and at night.
However, it is more tropical and more humid than Cusco. There is always a chance of a rain showers, especially in the cloud forest areas. In the rainy season, these showers will last longer and be much more intense tropical rain showers. The Inca Trail is made of stones laid in the ground so it can be more slippery to walk on in the rainy season.