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Best Short Trek to Machu Picchu

March 20, 2024
Best Short Trek to Machu Picchu - 69explorer

If you’ve done your Machu Picchu research, then you know there are many multi-day treks to choose from. But what about best short trek to Machu Picchu? Machu Picchu has many different treks. Some lead you directly to the Incan Citadel and some will lead you to Aguas Calientes, where you then have to walk or take a bus to Machu Picchu. When researching Machu Picchu and it’s treks it can be very difficult to decide and understand which is the best short trek to Machu Picchu.

Why chose a short trek?

The demand for the classic Inca trail can be very high especially in the high tourist season, from May to October. Additionally, you may have a tight schedule and not have time to hike the entire Inca trail. Maybe there is no more availability for the full Inca trail, if that’s the case don’t worry. There are many options for short treks to Machu Picchu and if the Inca trail is a must for you, you can always choose the short 2 day Inca Trail.

Which is the best short trek to Machu Picchu?

The short Inca trail to Machu Picchu 2 days is the best option when considering the best short trek to Machu Picchu. On this hike you get to explore the last part of the Inca trail which has the most impressive ruins of the journey. You will also have the opportunity to enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, which is now ONLY ACCESSIBLE through the Inca Trail. Additionally, you will get to see Machu Picchu twice! Once in the morning at the guard house viewpoint, then another time the following day during your guided tour of Machu Picchu.

***PLEASE NOTE: There is no camping on this version of the Inca trail. You will spend the night in a hotel at Aguas Calientes

Short Inca Trail 2 days

Short Inca Trail Itinerary

Day 1: Cusco – Km 104 Trailhead – Wiña Wayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes

Start the journey in Cusco in the early morning at 4:00am. Your tour guide will pick you up from your hotel in a private shuttle, and take you to the Ollantaytambo train station. Get some rest during the drive, it will still be too dark to enjoy the passing scenery. On the train take in the beautiful landscape of the Sacred Valley after a 1 and a half hour train ride you will arrive at the km 104 trailhead.

From the trail head start the 3-hour hike up a gradual slope eventually arriving at the impressive Inca ruins of Wiña Wayna. Wiña Wayna means forever young in Quechua and is a reference to the many orchids that bloom in this area. It’s said extracts from the flower grant eternal youth and increased vitality. Explore the ruins and hear what your guide has to say about the history of the Inca.

After exploring Wiña Wayna continue on the trail until you come to the Famous Intipunku or Sun Gate. This will be your first view of Machu Picchu! Take your time to enjoy this spectacular vantage point. You won’t get this angle of Machu Picchu anywhere else, it’s truly one of the bests sites in the world. Combined with the sense of satisfaction having just completed the Inca Trail, entering Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate really is a rewarding accomplishment.

Descend from the Sun Gate down to Machu Picchu, there are a few small ruins in between the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu, be sure to ask your guide about these ruins. After arriving to Machu Picchu, the first site you’ll come to is the famous Guard House where the iconic postcard pictures are taken. Make sure you get all the pictures you can, you won’t return to this spot! Then exit the complex of Machu Picchu and take the bus to Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night. Group tours will have dinner together and agree what time to go to Machu Picchu the following day.

Archaeological complex of Wiñay Wayna - 69explorer

Day 2: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Take the bus to Machu Picchu at the agreed upon time. If you want to catch the sunrise, you’ll have to take one of the first buses. The first bus leaves for Machu Picchu at 5:30am. Once inside your guide will walk you through the ruins of Machu Picchu. Your guide, with their extensive knowledge of Incan history and culture, will share the backstory and mysteries of Machu Picchu. Here every stone has a story, be sure to ask all the questions you can think off your guide will be happy to share!

After approximately 1.5 or 2 hours the tour will come to an end, take this time to explore Machu Picchu on your own. Wander the urban and sacred districts or tackle one of the mountain hikes. Please keep in mind if you are planning to hike one of the mountains you will need to purchase a separate ticket in advance. Whatever you chose to do take in the moment and appreciate the energy from this sacred place one of the 7 Wonders of the World! Once you are done exploring Machu Picchu descend back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo your guide will take you directly to your hotel.

Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu And Rainbow Mountain Tour Package (3 Days) - 69explorer

Alternatives to the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu: The most culturally rewarding hike to Machu Picchu this hike will interest you if you are looking to immerse yourself in the Andean culture. You will visit remote villages and interact with the local farmers and towns people. Additionally, if you are an animal lover this is a great option, there are many alpacas and llamas freely roaming the landscape. You’ll also have the opportunity to buy some traditional Andean goods or textiles knowing all of your money is going directly to the local people.

Huchuy Qosqo Trek: The easiest and shortest hike to Machu Picchu this is a perfect option for people who do not have a lot of time or are concerned with their physical fitness. You will spend the night at one of the local houses and get the chance to have a hot meal, and warm shower. This is a great opportunity to see how the Andean people live.

Packing List for short treks to Machu Picchu