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Short Inca Trail Trek

2 days | 1 night | 8 miles hiking | 1 night hotel
Lares Trek.jpg

Why this trek?

  • Great option for hiking, but no camping

  • Full day on the world famous Inca Trail

  • Arrive to Machu Picchu via Sun Gate

  • Tour several archaeological sites
  • All costs included

  • Tour of Machu Picchu

Ready to book?

What is included?

One night in hotel

Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Full day hiking on Inca Trail

All transportation for the trek

All meals during trek

All professional guides and staff

All permits, tickets, taxes, and fees

Experience the wonder of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu without camping

You get to Cusco and we will handle the rest!

Schedule Overview

Day 1

Short Inca Trail

Van to train station

Train to start of short Inca Trail

View Machu Picchu from Sun Gate

Day 2

Tour of Machu Picchu

20 minute bus ride to entrance

Tour of Machu Picchu 

Train to Cusco in the evening

Schedule Overview

Popular Questions

When is the best time to go?

Short answer: "shoulder seasons", the Spring and Fall of North America. These months provide the best combo of good weather and lower crowds.

Weather Details

How do I adjust to the altitude?

High elevation effects everyone differently. Two general pieces of advice: take it easy on your first day in Cusco and hydrate

Altitude Details

What do I pack?

We've compiled the ultimate packing list depending on which trip you're planning to take. Check it out at the link below

Packing List

Ready for your adventure?

Let's Book It!
I have questions.

Schedule Details

Let's get specific...

Day 1

Short Inca Trail

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Max Altitude: 10,265ft. (3,130m)

  • Min Altitude: 6,888ft. (2,100m)

  • Distance Traveled: ~9.3 miles (15 km)

  • Descent: 3,377ft. (1,030m)

  • Walking Time: 6-7 hours


Very early start today! A Kusa Treks van will pick you up from the Lares Campsite at 4:00AM and drive ~3.5 hours to the train station in Ollantaytambo. Here you will board an Expedition Train for the Trail Head of the Short Inca Trail (Km 104). After an hour and 45-minute train ride, you will start today’s hike on the Inca Trail by submitting your passports at a check control point.

Once on the trail, you will start with an easy walk near the Vicanota River. The trail will gradually begin to incline as it heads for the Chachabamba Ruins, which is a set of Inca Ruins that include a stone alter used to worship the sun and mountains. This site is still used by the locals that live in this area to pay tribute to the beautiful nature that surrounds them.

After visiting these historic ruins, the path will lead south with a steady incline up the mountain, where you will enter a beautiful cloud forest! The trail then opens into into a breathtaking open meadow on top of the mountain. The scenery will continue to impress as you begin to descend the mountain into an incredible rain forest, highlighted with a majestic waterfall! Seriously, this stretch of the trail is magnificent and will likely take up a lot of memory on your phone or camera.


Once you reach the bottom of the valley, you will have a guided tour a set of Inca Ruins called Wiñay Wayna (affectionately known as “Baby Machu Picchu”). We encourage you to take your time and appreciate the beauty of this incredible place. Your guide will explain the importance and meaning of these ruins after which you will enjoy a lovely boxed lunch prepared by our chef earlier that morning. After completing lunch, you will hike through another cloud forest full of bromeliads, orchids and tree ferns, which combine to make a dazzling display of Andean beauty.

After a few hours of hiking, the trail will begin to pass several age-old monuments built by the Incas, including stone stairs and drums. You will have the opportunity to climb 60 of these stairs in order to reach the famous Intil Punku (“Sun Gate”). The Sun Gate is an architectural wonder built by the Incas hundreds of years ago. At dawn on the summer equinox, the sun will pass through the Sun Gate and strike a pool of sacred water in the Sun Temple located in the center of Machu Picchu.


From the Sun Gate, you will have an incredible vantage point to view the ruins of Machu Picchu below. By now it will be late afternoon, and you will begin to descend the stone steps built by the Incas. At each turn a different and wonderful view of Machu Picchu will present itself as you make your way to one of the more famous vantage points to view Machu Picchu.

Upon reaching the lookout point, you will have 15-30 minutes to take pictures and observe the sun set behind the city of Machu Picchu! After enjoying the sunset, your guide will lead you past the entryway of the Machu Picchu ruins to a bus stop, where you will board a bus and take a 25-minute ride down to the charming town of Aguas Calientes.

Upon reaching the town, you will enjoy a lovely meal at a local restaurant and then turn in for the night at your hotel. Accommodations and dinner in Aguas Calientes are included in the price of the trek. After dinner your guide will go over the plans for the next day, and you will be able to catch up on sleep after a long day!

NOTE: The incredible part about this trek (and why so many of our clients enjoy it so much) is that you will have the opportunity to see Machu Picchu twice and from different different vantage points. Once from the Sun Gate and lookout point on Day 3, where you will get a “birds eye view” that will allow you can see the entire city and again on Day 4 when you will actually enter the park to tour the ruins.

Day 2

Machu Picchu

  • Meals: Breakfast and a snack

  • Max/Min Altitude: 7,972ft. (2,430m)

  • Distance Hiked: ~2 miles (walking around Machu Picchu)

  • Walking Time: 4-6 hours


Today you will discover Machu Picchu, the world famous Sacred City of the Incas. It is entirely up to the group when you would like to start this exciting day! However, the majority of travelers choose to wake up around 4:30AM. This allows you to eat a quick breakfast and head over the bus station to catch one of the first buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu Park. It is a 15-20 minute drive up a series of switch back roads to reach Machu Picchu Park. The gates for Machu Picchu open at 6AM.

All of our guides have been to Machu Picchu hundreds of times and will lead you to the best places to view the ruins. Once the city begins to fill with more tourists, you will start your guided tour, starting with the impressive Temple of the Sun. You will see several iconic areas of Machu Picchu including: The Citadel, The Royal Tomb, the Main Plaza, the Condor Temple and much more.

After the guided tour, you will have plenty of time to explore the City of the Clouds on your own. Those who have secured permits to climb Huayna Picchu will do that hike at this time. If you chose not to hike Huayna Picchu, you can join your guide on an hour long walk on the Inca Trail up to the Sun Gate, where you will enjoy the most iconic view of Machu Picchu.

NOTE: Due to new regulations (effective Jan 1. 2019), the paths that lead through Machu Picchu are all “one-way”, meaning you are not able to backtrack during your visit to Machu Picchu. Each visitor without a permit to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have ~4 hours to spend inside the park and those with permits to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have 6 total hours to spend inside the park (including the 2 hour climb).


Once you’ve had your fill of the incredible Lost City, your guide will take you back to the entrance of Machu Picchu Park to the bus station. The bus back to Aguas Calientes will depart in the early afternoon. Depending on the train schedule, you will either have time for lunch in Aguas Calientes or you will head straight for the train station. We typically book a train that departs Aguas Calientes between 2:30PM – 4:20PM.


From Aguas Calientes, the train will travel 2 hours to the Ollantaytambo station, where our private van will be waiting to take you the remaining 2-3 hours back to Cusco. Some train schedules will allow the train to go 3 hours to the Poray station, which is only a 30 minute drive back to your hotel in Cusco.


Expedition Train

The Expedition Train is the “normal” train, with plenty of leg room and good sized windows, these train tickets  are included in price. All Expedition train tickets end at the Ollantaytambo train station, which is a 2 hour drive back to Cusco. When you arrive to the station, we will have private transportation arranged to take you back to your hotel in Cusco.


The following are departure times for the Expedition train:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 14:55 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 16:31 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 18:30

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 15:20 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 17:08 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 19:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:22 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 18:10 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 20:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 18:20 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:05 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 22:00

Vista Dome Train

The Vista Dome Train is an upgraded train, which provides entertainment and a meal. It also has a glass domed ceiling which provides better views of the Sacred Valley on your way from Aguas Calientes to Cusco. The Vista Dome train will end at either the Ollantaytambo station (2 hour drive to Cusco) or the Poroy station (30 minute drive to Cusco). The arrival station is based on the time the train leaves Aguas Calientes. These tickets are an additional $70 USD to upgrade.

The following are departure times for the Vista Dome to the Ollantaytambo Station:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 13:37 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 15:00 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 17:30 only available for those who do not do the Huyana Picchu hike

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 15:48 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 17:29 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 19:29

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:22 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 18:10 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 20:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 17:23 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 19:02 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:00

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 18:10 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 19:51 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:51


The following are departure times for the Vista Dome to the Poroy Station:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:43 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:23 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:00

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 17:23 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:52 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:30

NOTE: Train times depend on: the number of people in your group, the time of year of your trip and the class of train you prefer.

Day 1
Day 2
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