Short Inca Trail Trek (2024): The Ultimate Guide
The Short Inca Trail is a famous trek that lasts for two days. The two-day Inca Trail includes a five-hour hike on day one and a two-hour guided tour of the spectacular Inca citadel of Machu Picchu on day two. During the Short Inca Trail, we pass the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna and end at Puerta del Sol “Inti Punku” above Machu Picchu.
It continues overnight in a hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes. The next day, we explore the ruins of Machu Picchu and the possibility of climbing Huayna Picchu. “Book tickets in advance.” This section of our website reports the experience, questions, and advice needed for this short two-day trip to Machu Picchu.
The two-day trek includes hiking to find the final section of the Classic Inca Trail. The walk is cataloged for an average level of physical condition.
The night before the hike, your tour guide from the agency provides a brief on everything you need to prepare for the Short Inca Trail.
On the tour day, a walking guide will pick up travelers from their hotel in Cusco or Ollantaytambo to travel to Ollantaytambo Train Station. The well-maintained trains have large windows offering impressive views of the mountains and the Urubamba River. The train stops at 104 km of track for a few minutes to disembark. “The tour guides and train crew will warn you to disembark the train in advance.”
The first few hours are the most challenging part of the hike. On the short Inca Trail, there is a steady climb of three and a half hours. Hike the edge of the Wiñaywayna Mountain and follow the Inca Trail with well-preserved steps.
The Urubamba River first flows near our feet, then recedes and becomes smaller until it becomes a thin line in the distance.
The first part of the Short Inca Trail is exposed to sunlight. Some trees provide shade on some parts of the path. Of course, the hiker can’t linger too long because shade means mosquitoes “bring excellent mosquito repellent (no spraying).”
Before finishing the 3:30 walk, we have the Wiñay Wayna waterfall in front of us. After the Wiñaywayna waterfalls, we will walk for about 10 minutes to find the Inca ruins of Wiñaywayna.
After a grueling three-and-a-half-hour climb, all hikers are rewarded with their first view of the Inca site of Wiñaywayna, along the Choquesuysuy Valley and cloud forest area.
Wiñaywayna Archaeological Construction has a building on the top floor made up of Inca house structures. The remains of Inca window frames and drainage holes give an idea of how the ancient Inca may have lived in this part of Machu Picchu.
In addition to Inca houses, there are terraces in several places that may have been used for agriculture. Before leaving Wiñaywayna, there is a viewpoint where you can take photos of the entire Inca ruins. Keep walking until you reach the Wiñaywayna checkpoint, then hike for 1.5 hours to the Inti Punku ruins.
During the last hours, the Short Inca Trail is semi-flat and smooth. It is pleasant to walk and contemplate the incredible panoramic views.
Before you reach Puerta del Sol, a final climb is known locally as the Monkey Steps. The stairs are steep. It is recommended to climb using your hands. Finally, we get to the summit of Intipunku to see Machu Picchu for the first time.
After our first sighting of Machu Picchu, we will descend Mt. Inti Punku for approximately 35 minutes. Arrive at the top of Machu Picchu; we go to the Inca guard house to see the classic view of Machu Picchu as on the postcard “15-minute photos session”. Then we go towards the parking lot to get on the bus to Aguas Calientes town to spend the night there and prepare for the second day. DAY 2: EXPLORING MACHU PICCHU “2-hour guided tour”
The Short Inca Trail is the shorter version of the world’s most famous hiking trail, “The Classic Inca Trail.” At the same time, this hiking trail is the best option for people who prefer moderate hikes to Machu Picchu.
The Short Inca Trail excursion includes a bus ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo on day one, a train ride from Ollantaytambo town to 104 km, and a 5- to 6-hour walk via the Short Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu World Heritage Site. On this first day, after all the hiking, we will go to the Machu Picchu viewpoint to see the classic and most famous view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Guard House. We stay in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes on this first day.
On the second morning, visit Machu Picchu on a two-hour guided tour. In the afternoon, we return to Cusco. We travel to Ollantaytambo Railway Station. At Ollantaytambo, we have a private vehicle to take you back to Cusco.
The Incas built this citadel as a place of religious worship to water (in their worldview, all of nature had a spiritual essence, which, when honored, provided what was necessary for life). Agriculture was the basis of the Inca economy. In addition, the other purpose seems to be a point of surveillance and access control to Machu Picchu since this Inca sanctuary was the primary vacation spot for the Inca nobility, located a short distance away.
Wiñayhuayna is an Inca site located six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Machu Picchu. Wiñaywayna was the gateway to the sacred city of the Incas and may have been used as a resting place for visitors. The Inca site of Wiñaywayna has many terraces carved into the hillside, with stone walls and steps leading to the temple of the sun or the rainbow above. There are also many water fountains and storage areas where the Incas used to store food grains.
The site of Intipata was a crucial agricultural center in the cloud forest region for specific agrarian production due to the type of climate in the area. The terraces perfectly fit the shape of the mountain, which was built to provide farmland for the Incas and the South Andean camelids. The Inca terraces are designed to collect rainwater and channel it to the crops.
Also known as “Puerta del Sol,” Intipunku is the main entrance to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu with its panoramic views. The name comes from the Quechua words INTI (sun) and PUNKU (door). The Incas built this gate to coincide with the sunset at Machu Picchu. The view of Intipunku is impressive; on one side, you’ll find the majestic Andes Mountains; on the other side, the ancient city of Machu Picchu is located in the Vilcabamba Batholith Valley and surrounded by the meandering Urubamba River. If you are lucky enough to witness the sunset over the mountains, you will have an unforgettable Machu Picchu experience.
There’s nothing more fun than walking the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Machu Picchu was abandoned shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 15th century. However, it was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham. In 1911, Peru became one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations. You can reach Machu Picchu by hiking the Short Inca Trail or by train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Once at Machu Picchu, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of this fascinating site on a 2-hour guided tour.
The hike starts at km 104 of the railway from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo. The hiking trails consist of 11 kilometers, or 6.1 miles, of paved Inca Trail. We visit archaeological sites such as Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Intipata, Inti Punku, or Sun Gate through this walking adventure.
Elevations on the Short Inca Trail start at 2,250 metros or 7,240 pies and ascend to 2,700 meters or 8,540 feet at Inti Punku’s Puerta del Sol before descending to Machu Picchu, which sits at an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level or 7,972 feet. The Short Inca Trail tourist circuit is ideal for all ages and people who require an outdoor walk full of cloud forest vegetation that shows incredible landscapes during the entire walking experience.
The highest point of the entire Short Inca Trail is 2,700 m (8,540 ft), located at the Inti Punku mountain pass. To get to Inti Punku or Puerta del Sol, you’ll have to walk from kilometer 104 of the railway line, following and ascending the Inca Trail for about four and a half hours. At the top of Inti Punku are the ruins of Inti Punku, which consist of several Inca houses with pyramid platforms supporting the building of Inti Punku.
Inti Punku offers spectacular views of the entire Inca citadel of Machu Picchu; if travelers love panoramic Machu Picchu views from the Inca Guardian’s House! Inti Punku is the best, offering dramatic views of Machu Picchu.
Over the years, the top of Inti Punku has become one of the most popular spots for all the walkers who visit Machu Picchu and the Short Inca Trail.
The difficulty of the short Inca Trail is moderate and recommended for all ages, families, etc. “Be inspired to walk one of the most famous Inca trails in the world, “THE SHORT INCA TRAIL PERU.” The tour allows you to admire the beautiful Andes and the Amazon of Machu Picchu landscape and discover the beautiful Inca architecture. Visit the famous Puerta del Sol, or Inti Punku, with views of Machu Picchu.
The Short Inca Trail is an uphill hike; ensure you have everything you need, like sunscreen, water, etc. In the first 3 hours, you will consistently climb the Short Inca Trail until you reach the ruins of Wiñayhuayna; from Wiñaywayna, there is still a two-hour walk, but the level of walking is classified as easy to moderate. From Wiñaywayna, the Short Inca Trail section is the most exciting of all the Inca Trails!
The entrance ticket to the Short Inca Trail covers the entrance to Machu Picchu on the day of the guided visit.
The short Inca Trail entrance ticket, in addition to allowing entry to the Inca Trail network of the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, provides access to Machu Picchu only once through circuit number 5 of Machu Picchu.
In the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, there are five established circuits for guided tours; if travelers require a re-entry to Machu Picchu, they can purchase a new ticket.
Walking sticks are unnecessary for the Short Inca Trail; hiking without them is 100% possible. However, its use is guaranteed to make walking more accessible and reduce pain during and after walking. For aluminum trekking poles, it is necessary to bring rubber tips to not damage the network of the Short Inca Trails.
Trekking poles are prohibited in the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu because they disrupt traffic or cause accidents. In Machu Picchu, only older adults or people with visible physical disabilities can use trekking poles.
For the Short Inca Trail, trekking poles are allowed to “take it with you; it helps a lot to climb the mountain, and it gives you security and balance.”
There is no internet signal at the beginning of the Short Inca Trail, which is kilometer 104 of the railway. After ascending the Inca Trail until reaching Wiñaywayna, there is an internet signal, but it is weak. Upon reaching the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), the internet signal is connected 100 percent, as in Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.
Packed Box lunches for the Short Inca Trail, along the 104 km of the railway that leads to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), are prepared in a tourist restaurant in the center of Cusco. Box Lunch ensured the biosecurity and quality the Short Inca Trail deserves. The contents of the lunch box are as follows; have a look.
Note: Biodegradable Containers and Biodegradable Forks
After the control of the 104 of the railways, when entering the beginning of the network of Short Inca Trails, there is a local stall selling snacks; in the local store, they sell bottled water, chips, chocolates, wooden sticks, plastic rain ponchos, etc.
At kilometer 104, it is the only place on the entire Short Inca Trail that sells snacks until you reach the exit gate of Machu Picchu. Before boarding the bus service to Aguas Calientes in Machu Picchu, snacks with coffee, Coca-Cola, and ice water are sold.
At the beginning of the Short Inca Trail, there is a stream to provide water from the Andes of Peru. It is recommended to bring water tablets, filters, or electronic devices to purify the water.
For more water, hikers can reach the Wiñaywayna waterfalls and ruins. You should bring at least 2 liters of water; the usual amount is 3 liters to cover the entire route of the Short Inca Trail.
It is essential to bring your aluminum bottles to recycle plastic bottles; plastic bottles are prohibited on the Short Inca Trails and Machu Picchu network!
During the short Inca Trail to the Inca city of Machu Picchu, it is possible to feel some of the symptoms of altitude sickness. Still, they dissipate little by little as the Inca Trail swings from 2,250 meters (7,240 feet) to 2,700 meters (8,540 feet), and it’s not a significant problem.
The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu recommended that people adapt to the Andes and then go to higher elevations like the Rainbow Mountain of Cusco.
The Short Inca Trail cannot be made on your own, so a permit issued by the National Institute of Culture and the Ministry of Environment (“SERNANP”) is required for the hike.
Tickets are required to control access to the short Inca Trail network and the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. There is a limit on entries: “200 entries per day”. Travel agents who can enter the Inca Trail will obtain their trekking permits.
We recommend booking the Short Inca Trail service four months in advance to obtain permits for the high season. The high tourist season in Machu Picchu is from May to October.
However, you can book the Short Inca Trail two months in advance, from October to December, or two weeks in advance. It should be noted that the Shorter Inca Trail is permanently closed for maintenance in February.
Yes, authorization and permits are required to enter the network of short Inca Trails to Machu Picchu. The license is issued annually to the operating travel agencies that obtain passes to organize organized group excursions within the Inca Trail network.
The following restrictions are prohibited in the excursions of the Short Inca Trail Peru: following good hiking practices to preserve the Inca Trail network for future generations is essential.
Visitors must respect the protocols indicated on each tourist circuit.
2024: strictly prohibited!
After hiking the wonderful walk of the Short Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, we board the bus service that goes to Machupicchu Pueblo.
In Machupicchu Pueblo, hikers on the Short Inca Trail sleep in a three-star hotel. We work with the best three-star hotels with no train noise and have a good location in the center of Machupicchu Pueblo. We also have the best options for upgrading service to four- and five-star hotels.
Yes, visitors carry their belongings during the Short Inca Trail trek, so we recommend bringing only the necessary items.
Suppose visitors need a porter service for the Short Inca Trail Trek. In this case, send a booking form using our website. Book the porters when you sign up for the Short Inca Trail! Once the passenger’s Short Inca Trail permits are booked, adding or using the porter’s services is impossible.
The porters of the Short Inca Trail carry between 10 and 18 kilograms of weight, which means that hikers can rent half or full porters.
Note: Most hikers on the Short Inca Trail in Peru do not require porter service since the trek is 5 hours, and they only carry what is necessary for the short adventure.
The short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is suitable for everyone. Hikers not only have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful landscapes, but they can also see important Inca constructions such as Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Intipata, and Inti Punku. Enjoy the panoramic views of Machu Picchu from the Inti Punku and the Inca Guard House. Enjoy short hikes on the Inca Trail in Cusco, Peru, South America.
Yes! Children can make the 2-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Children must like outdoor walks.
Many hiking trails lead to Machu Picchu, but none like the Short Inca Tour, South America’s most famous hiking trail. Cusco is an ideal place to walk the short Inca Trail through the jungle, thick fog, ancient stone steps, and Inca ruins.
Don’t hesitate to try the short Inca Trail with your kids. You might think traveling with them would be inconvenient, but Inca culture’s vibrant nature and dynamic display will keep them entertained. They will see many plants and animals, different people, and exotic words in foreign languages, “such as Spanish.” Inca architecture fascinates travelers, and no time is wasted taking family selfies.
Seniors can also walk the network of short Inca trails in Cusco. Of course, older adults must be in good health. It is best to consult your doctor in your home country before making the Short Inca Trail.
We have several alternatives for the Short Inca Trail combined with different tourist circuits within the Cusco region of Peru. Have a look.