Day 1 : Inca Trail - KM. 104 to the Sun Gate Day 2 : Machu Picchu Tour
Take a step back in time and explore the mysterious Machu Picchu citadel on an exciting Peru trek adventure. Declared one of the New Seven World Wonders and teeming with fascinating legends and history, Machu Picchu is without a doubt the highlight of any traveler’s trip to Peru - but reaching the famed citadel by foot along the original Inca Trail adds a special perspective to this mystical experience.
The 2-day Inca Trail trek offers a shortened version of the regular 4-day trek, perfect for visitors who wish to arrive to the ruins by foot, the same way the Incas originally did, but without the strain and time commitment of the classic 4-day Inca Trail. This trek starts at the end of the 4-day trail and follows the final leg of the famous route, arriving to Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate.
While walking along the beautifully preserved trail you will see ruins carved out of solid rock and you’ll also enjoy the jaw dropping scenery of the stunning Andean mountains. The 2-day hike offers a perfect taste of a Peru trekking adventure, with the added comfort of a night in a quality Machu Picchu hotel.
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your Cusco hotel and transferred to the train station. You’ll take the train through the stunning landscapes of the Sacred Valley to the station at kilometer 104. Here you will begin your hike following the original path of the Incas through the beautiful Andean mountains.
The first Inca ruins you will encounter are those of Chachabamba, a small archaeological complex believed to have once been a guard house to Machu Picchu. From here the trail ascends at a gradual incline for three hours until you reach 8,690 feet (2,650 meters). You will visit the site of Wiñay Wayna, which means “Eternal Youth” in the indigenous Quechua language. The name comes from the perennial orchids that speckle the landscape, making Wiñay Wayna perhaps the most beautiful place on the Inca Trail. It is also the last urban center before arriving to Machu Picchu.
Wiñay Wayna consists of 4 main sectors: the urban sector, located in the lower part and containing more than 20 buildings; the ritual sector; the terraced sector for crops; and the tower sector, which boasts the site's finest architecture and was probably a place of religious or social importance.
After touring the site and lunching, you will continue on to the Inti Punku or the "Sun Gate," from where you can see Machu Picchu in all its majesty and grandeur. From Inti Punku you will hike downhill for roughly 30 minutes toward the citadel’s principal ruins, taking in magnificent panoramic views along the way. You will then take a bus into the mountain town of Aguas Calientes, where you will have dinner and spend the night in a comfortable Machu Picchu hotel.
Hike Distance: 7.5 (12 km) Minimum altitude: 7,380 feet (2,250 m) Maximum altitude: 8,690 feet (2,650 m) Approximate time: 7 to 8 hours Gradient: Moderate
Rise early and head to the bus station for the 20-minute drive up to the entrance of Machu Picchu, where you will embark on a 2-hour guided tour of the citadel. If you choose to breakfast at 5 a.m. or pack a breakfast box, you can reach the citadel in time to see the sun rise over the Inca ruins.
The magnificent handiwork of the Incas is abundantly evident even centuries after it was first set into place by genius engineers. The precision of the carved walls contrasts sharply with the wild, verdant mountains and steep highlands. The city itself can be divided into 3 areas: the urban, agricultural, and adjacent zones. In the urban sector you can find the Temple of the Sun, Royal Tomb, ceremonial fountains, Royal Palace, Temple of the Three Windows, Main Temple, Intiwatana and more. The agricultural sector includes the cemetery and the Funeral Rock. Finally, the adjacent zones include Intipunku, the Temple of the Moon, Huayna Picchu, and the Drawbridge.
You may want to take advantage of Machu Picchu’s spiritual setting to meditate and relax. But the more adventurous can take a 90-minute climb up the nearby peak of Huayna Picchu. On the way down from Huayna Picchu, take the trek past the Temple of the Moon, once a retreat for Inca nobles and priests. The extra trek is not for the faint of heart and must be done with extreme caution. However, the opportunity to see Machu Picchu from another angle is often enough to draw the more adventurous visitor. Note that park officials limit the number of visitors to Huayna Picchu to 400 per day and tickets need to be purchased in advance. See our FAQs page or below for more information.
After your day in Machu Picchu, you will take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes to collect your belongings from your hotel and return to Cusco by train, where you will be met for a transfer to your hotel.
Download our Machu Picchu Guide for more information on what see and do, as well as Machu Picchu restaurants that we recommend for tasty dining.
Check our Trekking & Adventure FAQs to help you prepare for your Inca Trail Trek and contact your travel advisor for any additional questions.
Transfer from your Cusco hotel to the train station
Entrance ticket to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Transfer from the train station to your Cusco hotel
Meals for the tour (one lunch and one dinner)
Bus tickets: One-way ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes (first day), and a roundtrip ticket for Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu (second day)
Our professional and multilingual guides have excellent knowledge of the Inca Trail and the intricate archaeological, historical, and cultural traditions of the Inca. Additionally, our tour personnel are highly qualified in tour group management and first aid.
Hotels in Cusco or Aguas Calientes
Round trip train ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes
The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a naturalist’s haven. Conveniently nestled in the verdant Andean cloud forest, this lovely hotel is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the astonishing flora and fauna of the region. The eco-friendly hotel resembles an Andean village and is comprised of charming white-washed cottages decorated with modern indigenous art as well as authentic pre-Columbian artifacts. With a commitment to indulging the whims of its guests, this luxury hotel expertly combines nature and comfort to create a one-of-a-kind Machu Picchu experience. Try some regional dishes at the excellent restaurant overlooking the Urubamba River.
Ideally located near the Aguas Calientes train station and close to where the buses depart for the short ride to Machu Picchu, the recently renovated El MaPi Hotel is perfect for travelers who want to catch the sunrise over the ruins. The modern and stylish hotel aims to be the best in its category and offers great value services and décor. It also boasts beautifully landscaped gardens and a hot tub where guests can relax at night with a cocktail after a delicious dinner.
Prolongacion Imperio de Los Incas E - 34, Aguas Calientes
The newest addition to the Casa Andina Classic brand offers modern and comfortable accommodations to guests seeking a quality Machu Picchu hotel. Located on the banks of the Vilcanota River and adjacent to the Aguas Calientes train station, the hotel enjoys a top location for easy access to the Machu Picchu ruins.
Budget-friendly and wholly comfortable, the excellent Rupa Wasi Lodge provides a scenic setting that will nicely round out any Machu Picchu tour. Perched on a hill above the bustle of the main streets, this small hotel boasts wood architecture, panoramic windows, and outdoor balconies that create a sense of immersion into the surrounding forest. With just three suite rooms and two standard rooms, the friendly staff is able to provide caring hospitality to all its guests. The attached Tree House Restaurant is amongst the best eateries in town and also prepares boxed lunches if you’ll be spending the day exploring the spectacular Machu Picchu ruins.