All you need to know about the BEST 2 day Inca trail to Machu Picchu


Everyone has a different preferred method of getting to Machu Picchu. One of our favorites is the Inca Trail, and if you don’t have much time or hate camping, the short Inca Trail is the perfect alternative to its four day counterpart.

The 2 Day Inca Trail hikes up and enters into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku in Quechua). It also hits some of the most famous ruins, passes by unforgettable views, through cloud forests and finally into subtropical vegetation. Culminating at the magnificent wonder of the world: Machu Picchu.

Trekkers on the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu have the privilege of visiting the Ancient Machu Picchu City two times. The 1st visit is on day 1, in the late afternoon as they hike through the Sun Gate and into the Citadel, and again on the second day, early morning on a tour with their guide.

The second day, trekkers will be transported by shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes just in time for sunrise within the citadel. The guide will then show the group around the ancient City of Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail is so popular because challengers step back in time throughout the hike to this magical mysterious place. Machu-Picchu, also known as “The Old Sacred Mountain”.

While visiting, be sure to take your time exploring the citadel and all the ruins leading up to them. All of these Incan ruins are incredibly rich in history, and are emblematic of Peru’s past and the culture of the people who, once upon a time, called this area home.

Highlight of the 2 days Inca Trail

  • A visit to Wiñay Wayna, an amazing and unique Inca ruin
  • Hiking the last 1/3 of the famous Classic Inca Trail
  • A once in a lifetime opportunity to hike the actual trail that the Incas hiked more than 500 years ago.
  • Hike through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) all the way to famous Machu Picchu Citadel.
  • The views from the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu Citadel are spectacular.
  • Visit Machu Picchu Citadel twice, the 1st and 2nd day of the trek.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu map

Times are approximately and depends on your fitness. Permits need to be booked way in advance!

Itineraries 1 day & 2 days Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Inca trail to Machu Picchu 1 day – itinerary

ollantaytambo sacred valley cusco - Orange Nation Peru

Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – km104 – Wiñaywayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes – Cusco

The day begins early, as your guide picks you up from your hotel in Cusco at 4am. From there you will enjoy a 2-hour scenic drive in our private van to the Ollantaytambo train station. If you are already in Ollantaytambo then your pick up time will be at 5:30am. If you are staying in another town in the Sacred Valley, please contact our office to arrange your pick-up.

Our Expedition Train departs from Ollantaytambo station at 6:10am. The train journey takes around an hour and a half, passing through rural farmland and beautiful mountain passes before reaching our stop: KM 104, the starting point of the one day Inca Trail.

We will cross the Urubamba River on a picturesque foot bridge, taking a moment to grab a photo with the entrance sign before arriving at the first checkpoint. Here, you will show your passport and gain official entrance to the trail.

Our first stop of the hike is just a few feet from the checkpoint. This archeological site is called Chachabamba (2100m/6890ft). We will take a few moments to admire the site, which is known to have had a number of uses.

One of the uses of this site was as a guardhouse, thanks to its location at the entrance of one of the paths into Machu Picchu. However, it is more than just its prime location. The site is also surrounded by fertile land, used by the Incas to grow crops such as corn, quinoa, and potatoes. Chachabamba was also used as a religious center, offering thanks to the Pachamama (Mother Earth).

After you have enjoyed a tour of the site and taken a little time to snap some pictures, our journey continues. We begin our gentle 1.5 hour hike uphill to the Wiñay Wayna (Quechua for “Forever Young”) archaeological site (2,650/8,747ft).

Along the way we are guided by stunning views of snow capped mountain peaks in the distance. The calming Urubamba River rushes downstream below us, and expansive views of the sacred valley unfold in front of us. There are several viewpoints along the way where you can grab some insta-worthy shots.

A short but steep climb leads us to a pristine waterfall- the perfect place for a few photos and a quick water break. After a minute or so of rest, we begin the steep hill leading to Wiñay Wayna.

Wiñay Wayna was built on the side of a steep mountain, and on a cloudy day the entire site seems as though it is floating in the sky. It’s a truly incredible sight to behold. And the view only improves as you get closer.

Wiñay Wayna is named after a beautiful orange orchid that grows in abundance all year round along the trail. This stunning archeologic site is timeless, one of the most well-preserved archeological sites in the world, and a fantastic example of Incan architecture.

A fascinating history surrounds the site, despite the fact that it was only discovered in 1940. This late discovery helps to explain why this site remains so in tact in comparison to other sites on the trail- in fact, some parts of it are still hidden in the dense jungle.

Once we reach the top of Wiñay Wayna, we arrive at a campsite of the same name. This is where the Short Inca Trail and the Classic Inca Trial intersect. We stop to rest, enjoy our gourmet box lunch and use the bathroom facilities available at camp.

You can also also use this opportunity to ask your guide as many questions as you want about the Inca Trail, the Incas, or any of the sites you have passed along the way. Our guides are experts in their field and know almost everything there is to know about the Incas.

After lunch we begin our final hour of the hike. The majority of this hour is an easy and enjoyable hike, taking in the incredible and completely unique scenery of where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon Rainforest. Finally, you will reach the Monkey Steps- also known as the Gringo Killer steps.

The steps earned their name by offering a healthy challenge to a many gringos over the years, owing to how steep they are. The easiest way to scale them is to get on all fours and climb like a monkey. The Incas carved the stairs directly into the rock, and they are the final challenge before reaching the Sun Gate.

The Sun Gate (2,730m/9,00ft) is one of the main reasons for choosing for this hike. Upon passing through the Sun Gate, you are faced with your first all encompassing, jaw dropping view of the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu and the incredible valley surrounding it. Take a moment to catch your breath, appreciate your achievement, and take in the incredible view unfolding in front of you.

The rest of the way to the citadel is a downhill hike on Incan stone paths, Machu Picchu looming with each step. Upon arrival to the “Guards House” you can take the famous postcard pictures of Machu Picchu with the spectacular Huayna Picchu Mountain behind it.

Your guide will give you a private tour of the citadel, lasting for around 2 hours depending on your hiking speed. You will learn about some of the most important parts of Machu Picchu and lose yourself in history as your guide shows you hidden corners and famous landmarks alike.

Enjoy the magic of the ruins at your own leisure before taking the bus down to Aguas Calientes. Your train departs from Aguas Calientes train station at 6:20pm, and on arrival to Ollantaytambo our private van will take you back to your hotel in Cusco. Your estimated arrival time in Cusco is 10pm.

  • Meals: Box Lunch
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Huayna Picchu mt & Machu Picchu mt are not available because the arrival time. If you want to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mt, then we recommend the 2 days Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2 days – itinerary

Day 1: cusco – 104 kms – Wiñayhuayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu

Your pick-up is the crack of dawn, at 4 am, ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Catch up on sleep or just enjoy the views in our comfortable, private transportation to Ollantaytambo train station.

On arrival at the train station, take some time to grab a quick cup of coffee before your guide hands you your lunch to add to your daypack. Our train departs Ollantaytambo at 6:10am and you will have just over an hour before disembarking at the famous Km104 where your trek begins.

The first hour and a half is a gentle uphill climb. The next hour and a half is a slightly steeper climb with a beautiful waterfall as your reward at the end of the section. From the waterfall, we can see the spectacular Wiñay Wayna at (2,600m/8,500ft) above sea level.

After lunch, you have a mostly flat hour-long walk before reaching a short but very steep set of Inca stairs that are directly carved into the rock. Once this section is conquered, you will arrive at the Sun Gate where you will be faced with a jaw dropping and expansive view of the great citadel of Machu Picchu.

Once you reach Machu Picchu, you will have time to take more photos from the viewing platforms above the site, arriving in the afternoon, just as the archeological area starts to empty of tourists.

We finish the day by taking the bus down to Aguas Calientes and checking into your hotel. Your will have a delicious dinner, then enjoy some free time to walk around this picturesque little town, visit the hot springs or just go to your hotel to rest after such an exciting day.

  • Meals: Box Lunch & Dinner.
  • Accommodation: Wiracocha Inn Hotel or Andean Terra Hotel
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
Day 2: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco - Orange Nation Peru

Day 2: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

This is the day you’ve been waiting for! After an early breakfast at your hotel, we’ll take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu so that we can witness the sunrise. It is a truly extraordinary site and not something you’ll want to miss!

You will enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu, which takes about two hours. You will see many of the most important parts of Machu Picchu Citadel and your guide will share plenty of information about the site.

After your tour, those who have an advanced booking for the extra hike up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have time to enjoy the climb and incredible views on their own.

Once everyone has had their fill of the exceptional history and scenery that is so iconic of Machu Picchu, we will take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included). Depending on your train departure time, you may also have time for some shopping, sightseeing or a visit to the museum or hot springs.

The Expedition train will take you back to Ollantaytambo at 2:55pm or 3:20pm, following the spectacular Urubamba River. Close to Aguas Calientes, the canyon is narrow and the river has many beautiful sections of whitewater.

You can also see Wiñay Wayna from the train, if you look up high on the steep canyon wall! Back at Ollantaytambo, your driver will meet you at the exit from the train station to take you back to your hotel in Cusco in our private vehicle. You can expect to arrive at your hotel by 7:00pm.

  • Meal: Breakfast
  • Difficulty: Easy.

Huayna Picchu mountain ($75) and Machu Picchu mountain ($75) are available on this option BUT its has to be booked in advance and is subject to availability.

Packing Checklist for the Inca Trail

  • Original Passport (it has to be the same you have used for booking your trek)
  • Good daypack (the smaller, the better)
  • Water bottle: 2 liters
  • Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
  • Toilet Paper
  • Jacket
  • Layered clothing
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Personal medications
  • Sun Hat, Wool Hat (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 (provided by Orange Nation)
  • Camera
  • Extra Money for Souvenir

The Weather

The weather in the Cusco region is different from other parts of the world. We have 2 main seasons:

Dry Season

May through November is the dry season. That does not mean that it never rains in the dry season but it is mostly dry with an occasional light shower.

Rainy Season

The rainy season begins usually in December and last until April. In the rainy season, we have heavy tropical showers frequently. February is the heaviest rain.

The Cusco region has a tropical high mountainous type of weather. That means the weather can change very quickly from sunshine to rain and back again. Rain here typically does not last all day, although this becomes more likely in the rainy season.

Weather forecasts are very rarely accurate in Peru. They might show rain all day every day; but all that means is that somewhere in the entire region there will be a shower. It can also be very rainy in one area of Cusco city and completely dry in another area.

On the Inca Trail the weather depends heavily on the season. The short Inca Trail is at lower altitude than Cusco, around 1,000 meters or about 3,000 feet lower on average. Because of this it tends to be a bit warmer than the city.

It is also a lot more tropical and humid than Cusco. There is always a chance of a rain showers. 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. The entire trail is closed in the month of February.