Have you always wanted to go to Machu Picchu, one of the seven world wonders in Peru, and were you looking at train tours and treks to Machu Picchu? One of the options is the two-day Inca Trail; this so-called Short Inca Trail is an excellent option if the tickets for the Classic four-day Inca Trail are sold out. Or maybe you have less time available and cannot do a four-day hike.
But how does it really work, this two-day Inca trail? How much will you actually ‘hike’? Is a visit to Machu Picchu included? Where will you sleep? Is it a challenging trek? Questions, questions, questions. In this article, we will give you the answers, so you are fully prepared when hiking the Inca Trail to the beautiful Incan citadel Machu Picchu. Read about the Short two-day Inca trail: all you need to know.
What is unique about the Short Inca Trail?
What is unique about the Short Inca Trail is that it is a great way to see a part of the Classic Inca trail without doing the complete hike (whatever you reasons are). Suppose you go by train to Machu Picchu. In that case, you will miss this excellent hiking opportunity in this stunning region. The Short Inca Trail has spectacular views! Along the way, you will pass by a beautiful waterfall and see fascinating historic places along the route; you’ll love the great stories from the guides about the Incas. A train tour to Machu Picchu is a beautiful experience and you’ll have amazing views from the train too, but if you have the opportunity to hike, consider a hike to Machu Picchu.
What is the difference between the Short Inca Trail and the four-day Inca Trail?
On the Short Inca Trail, you will first take the train from Cusco and start walking at kilometer 104, while on the 4-day Inca Trail, you will take a car to kilometer 82 and start walking from there. On the day-day hike you will see more ruins; the routes of each trek are different. Where the two paths meet at Wiña Wayna.
But there are more differences. On the Short Inca Trail, you will go to Machu Picchu twice and stay the night in Aguas Calientes, the small village at the foot of the mountain, also called Machu Picchu Pueblo.
When looking at meals: on the four-day Inca Trail, you will have a cook and porters that bring the food and prepare it when you arrive at your camp for the night. But on the Short Inca Trail, you will take a box lunch with you for the first day, and you’ll have dinner in Aguas Calientes. Then, again, on day two, you get a box breakfast/lunch that you can eat near Machu Picchu.
What ruins do you visit during the Short Inca Trail?
The ruins you will visit during the Short Inca Trail are Chachabamba, Wiñay Wayna, and Inti Punku. The last ruin you see before entering Machu Picchu, Inti Punku, is also called the Sun Gate. Here also, the hikers of the 4day Inca trail enter the Incan Citadel- a truly magic moment.
How much do you walk during the Short Inca Trail?
On the first day, the day you will walk the longest, you will get off the train at kilometer 104 and start walking from there toward Machu Picchu; on this day, you will be walking for around 7 hours. The groups are small, typically not bigger than 6-8 hikers or less. Along the route, you will meet other people who are also hiking the Short Inca Trail, and close to the end, you will pass by the camp of the 4-day Inca Trail- hikers.
On the second day, you will be walking less. First is the guided tour of Machu Picchu, which takes about two hours a half. Afterward, you return to Aguas Calientes: you can take the shuttle bus or walk. If you walk, it will take you about an hour and a half.
Where do you sleep on the Short Inca Trail?
On the Short Inca Trail, you sleep in a hotel in Aguas Calientes (so you won’t be camping on the Short Inca Trail). Here you can shower after a long day of walking and sleep in a comfortable bed. On the second, you will only need to take the things you will need for your visit to Machu Picchu as you can leave the rest at the hotel.
Is a Machu Picchu tour included, or do I need to book a different ticket?
On the first day, you will see Machu Picchu from the top (you won’t walk through it) and have a great view of the Inca city from above; the classic post-card view. Since the hike started early, you will arrive at the top of Machu Picchu at around 3:15 PM.- before dark. On the second day, you will visit Machu Picchu and walk through the whole complex with a guide who will explain the meaning and history. This guided tour in Machu Picchu will take about two and a half hours.
What to bring with you on the Short Inca Trail? Are there porters, or do you carry your own stuff?
What you have to take with you on the Short Inca trail is:
Packing List Short Inca Trail:
- A small Backpack (a day pack)
- Hiking Shoes
- Raincoat or Poncho
- Warm Clothes
- Water Bottle
- Photo or Video Camera with equipment
- Insect Repellent
- Snacks (energy bars, chocolates, etc.)
- A Cap or Hat
As no porters go with you on the Short Inca Trail, you will have to carry all of this with you, including the lunch box you will be given and your water.
What is included in the Short Inca Trail? Are there extra costs or hidden costs?
Included on the Short Inca Trail is:
- Professional bilingual guide (English – Spanish)
- Pick up from accommodation in Cusco and transfer to the start of the trek.
- All meals (exceptions, see below)
- First Aid Kit with oxygen
- Pre-departure orientation meeting
- Overnight in a hostel/hotel in Aguas Calientes (double room)
- Entrance fees to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes (day 1)
- Bus ticket Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (day 2)
- Train back to Cusco (standard Expedition Service; you can upgrade to Vistadome).
- Transfer from the train station back to Cusco
- Hotel or train ticket upgrades
- First-day breakfast and second-day lunch and dinner
- Shuttle bus on day two from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
Why does the Short Inca Trail seem relatively expensive compared to the 5-day Salkantay trek or the 4-day Inca Jungle?
The Short Inca Trail is relatively expensive compared to the Salkantay trek or the Inca Jungle Trek for two reasons: the train ticket on day one and the special Inca trail Entrance Fee ticket. The two other hikes do not include this ticket that allows you to hike in the protected official Inca Trail (part of National Park Machu Picchu). The second reason is the other hikes have a departure point that can be reached by bus (instead of the train).
Why are tickets left for the Short Inca Trail but not for the four-day Inca Trail?
There are sometimes tickets left for the Short Inca Trail but not the four-day Inca Trail because there are fewer tickets available. Furthermore, the four-day Inca Trail is extremely popular and probably one of the best hikes in Peru and South America. Therefore, getting Inca tickets is very difficult, and they should be booked many months ahead.
So if you can’t get an Inca Trail ticket for the 4-day Inca Trail, there might still be some left for the Short Inca Trail, allowing you to experience this fantastic hike even when you have booked with shorter notice.
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