This itinerary is one of our most popular treks as it incorporates many of the highlights of the Classic Inca Trail but is completed in a much shorter time frame! This makes it perfect for explorers who want to experience this world-famous trail and the new 7th wonder of Machu Picchu, but who only have a limited amount of time in the area.
This year the Peruvian tourism authorities are making 200 extra permits per day available for this Short Inca Trail. So right now, that means that almost all dates in 2019 remain available!
As well as many of the traditional Inca ruins and magnificent mountain views that make the Inca Trail famous, our route also takes us to the lesser known ruins at Chachabamba, and past the most magnificent waterfall that this area has to offer. It truly is a short itinerary that packs a real punch!
Our itinerary includes all tickets and transport, overnight accommodation at a high-quality hotel in Aguas Calientes, and dinner at great local restaurant.
Starting Altitude – 2,170 m / 7,170 ft
Highest Altitude – 2,720 m / 8,920 ft
Walking Distance – 13 km / 8 miles
We provide a full pre-trek briefing at our office in Cusco. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the trek itinerary.
Briefings are generally scheduled for the morning or afternoon of the day before your trek starts. If your trek begins on a Monday then the briefing will be scheduled for the Saturday before. Please take this into consideration when booking your travel plans to Cusco, ensuring you arrive in time for the briefing.
We collect you from your Cusco hotel early in the morning (about 4:00am) and then transfer you in one of our mini-vans to the train station at Ollantaytambo.
Our train journey lasts about an hour before making an unscheduled stop at Kilometer 104, the trailhead of the Inca Trail and the start of our adventure.
Passing through the Inca Trail checkpoint we immediately see our first archaeological center, the magnificent ruins at Chachabamba. These ruins were one of the last shelters used by the Inca pilgrims before they reached Machu Picchu. Used for generations as a religious and administrative center, the site features several fascinating buildings, and our expert guide will be delighted to share the history with you.
Our trek begins with a steady ascent for around 3 hours climbing the original Inca stone steps. The ecosystems in this area are quite unique, and your guide will help you identify the different types of flora and fauna along the trail.
After passing the most spectacular waterfall we arrive at the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Named after an orchid and meaning “Forever Young” in Quechua the site provides incredible views far across the Sacred Valley. We will enjoy a well-deserved lunch at the top of the ruins or somewhere around it, taking in the breathtaking scenery around us.
Wiñay Wayna is built into a mountainside and features experimental terraces that the Incas used to grow different types of crops, and so is a fascinating place to visit. During our tour you will visit a temple with 7 windows that was dedicated to the Rainbow as well as observing the incredible engineering of the water channels that still function today.
Once the tour is complete we continue our hike for another 1-2 hours on a relatively flat section of trail. At around 4:00 pm we will reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. This is the original entrance to the sacred city, and is called “Intipunku” in Quechua.
Intipunku provides our first views of the magnificent Machu Picchu. It is difficult to put into words the impact of seeing this ancient, sacred and world-famous site for the first time. Suffice to say you will want to have your cameras at the ready!
After taking some time to enjoy the views, and take those all-important photos, we make a final short walk down to the main entrance of the ruins from where we take the bus down to Aguas Calientes.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes we will take you to check in at your hotel. The town of Aguas Calientes is a thriving tourist town, with plenty of hustle and bustle to keep you entertained! The natural hot springs in town are also an unbeatable way to spend a late afternoon/early evening if there is time available before dinner.
Dinner will have been arranged at one of the local restaurants in town, and we will all dine together, sharing the excitement about the day ahead.
The hotel will prepare an early breakfast for you before we meet to take a very early bus (5:30 am) along the winding road to Machu Picchu. As we climb gradually to the sacred city we should be lucky enough to see the magnificent sunrise over the Andes.
All of our guides are experts and enthusiasts in the history and legends of Machu Picchu, and so the 2-hour tour of the site will really bring the city to life for you. Of course, there will be plenty of time to take photos, of the city….and of the wild Llamas roaming the terraces!
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain, you will begin the hike at 10 AM (the price for hiking Huayna Picchu Mountain is not included in the trek price).
If you are not climbing the mountain you will have some free time to explore Machu Picchu on your own before you return to Aguas Calientes by bus.
Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes we board the expedition train to Poroy or to Ollantaytambo. From Poroy or Ollantaytambo we will transfer you in our minivan to your Cusco hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket, but is generally between 8 and 9 PM.