The Express Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is the ultimate hike to walk in ancient footsteps to the magical, mystical Machu Picchu. Short on time? No problem! We can work with you and your schedule to ensure an amazing experience in a shorter time frame.
Witness ancient constructions, luscious landscapes, and incredible wildlife on this 2-day adventure through the Andean rainforest. Spend the night in charming Aguas Calientes before waking up early to beat the crowds at the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. This is an adventure you don’t want to miss out on, and you don’t have to with our compact, express Inca Trail.
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Created with those on a strict time frame in mind, our 2-day Inca Trail includes everything that’s wonderful about the 4-day trek into a couple of days. Along the way, you’ll get to visit fascinating archaeological sites, including the astounding Wiñay Wayna. You’ll learn all about the ancient culture of the Incas and connect with nature and Mother Earth in the most stunning landscapes.
You can enjoy relaxing in the middle of the rolling hills and enjoy your packed lunch. Take a walk up to the Sun Gate, from where those on the 4-day Inca Trail will enter Machu Picchu. From here, you get your first spectacular views over the breathtaking Machu Picchu. It’s a dreamy landscape without a doubt, so make sure you soak it up before you leave until tomorrow.
Your comfort is a top priority to us, which is why you spend the night in a lovely hotel in Aguas Calientes before waking up for the big day. Enjoy a rewarding dinner after your day of trekking and get a good night’s sleep.
On day 2, it’ll be time to visit no other than the New Seven Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu. Feel your heart race as your first step inside this incredible place and look across the terraces and stone buildings, all constructed on a mountainside. You’ll enjoy a 2-hour guided tour to learn all about the importance of the fortress and then have time to explore yourself. Make the most of your time here before you head down for lunch and the journey back to Cusco. This trip of a lifetime is a must and doable when you don’t have long in Cusco.
Itinerary at a Glance
Cusco | Ollantaytambo - KM 104 - Chachabamba Wiñay Wayna- Sun Gate / Inti Punku - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes
Walk along the original Inca Trail through gorgeous landscapes surrounded by gigantic mountains and lush vegetation. Explore Inca archaeological sites and get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu before spending the night in Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes | Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo - Cusco
Explore the magical Machu Picchu with your guide and learn its secrets. Take more time by yourself to see as much as possible and venture on an additional hike.
What's it like
Why Take the “2-Day Short Inca Trail”
- Hike through some of the most spectacular Andean landscapes you’ll see.
- Trace ancient footsteps along the original Inca Trail and be transported back in time.
- Visit Inca archaeological sites and learn all about their culture and history from your knowledgeable guide.
- Spend the night in comfort in a well-renowned hotel in Aguas Calientes.
- Explore the magical Machu Picchu with your guide and understand its secrets.
Why Travel with us
Cusco | Ollantaytambo - KM 104 - Chachabamba Wiñay Wayna- Sun Gate / Inti Punku - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes
Highlight of the day: See stunning scenery as you visit archaeological sites and get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu.
Walk in Ancient Footsteps and Transport Back in Time
Today, you’ll set off early to drive to Ollantaytambo then catch a train to KM 104 to start the hike. You’ll trek through some stunning landscapes with lush vegetation and gigantic mountains and stop off at fascinating Inca archaeological sites to learn all about the ancient culture. End your day’s hike by arriving at the Sun Gate and looking out over the mystical Machu Picchu for the first time, and take some amazing photos. You’ll then catch a bus down to Aguas Calientes, where you’ll enjoy dinner in a nice restaurant and spend the night in a comfortable hotel.
Your adventure begins today nice and early as you’ll be picked up from your accommodation at 4 am. You’ll then travel for around 1 and a half hours to the small, quaint town of Ollantaytambo, where you’ll have a few minutes to make any last-minute purchases. You’ll board the train at the station at 6:10 am to KM 104, from where our trek begins. You can see the golden sun covering the expansive Andean mountains, farming fields, and the Urubamba River along the railway. Before you start walking, you’ll meet your guide and listen to a brief orientation about the details, and we’ll provide you with your box lunch and a snack for you to enjoy later on.
The hike starts on the same path as the Classic Inca Trail. You’ll be immersed in the stunning landscape as you’re surrounded by lush vegetation and towering mountains watching over you. After a short while, we’ll reach our first Inca archaeological site on the trek, Chachabamba, and learn a little about it from our guide.
After another 3 hours, we get to one of the most fascinating Inca sites, the Wiñay Wayna complex (meaning 'forever young' in Quechua) that sits at 2,650 masl / 8,694 fasl. Most trekkers who stop here are amazed by the incredible architecture. You’ll explore the site and discover a ritual water source, temples dedicated to nature's forces, and beautiful agricultural platforms. Wiñay Wayna is the perfect place to learn a little more about the impressive history of the Incas.
While you’re at these sites, take some time to relax, unwind in peace, and connect to Mother Nature through birdsong and the soft whisper of the wind. A little further on, you’ll spot the campsites where those doing the Classic Inca Trail spend the night. Here, you’ll have time to enjoy the tasty lunchbox we’ve prepared for you, chill out, and recharge your batteries.
Once you’re ready to go again, we’ll continue the hike to the Sun Gate, from where you get your first outstanding views of Machu Picchu and all its incredible architecture. You’ll be astounded at how the Incas were able to build such a site on a mountain. The landscape is very dreamy, and you’ll feel the magic and mystery of Machu Picchu that’s withstood the test of time amazingly. Use this opportunity to capture some unique photos and honor the Incas as you ponder how they were able to lift such big stones and try to understand their deep connection with nature.
We won’t be entering the citadel just yet, though. At this time of day, the tourists inside will be leaving, and you’ll be able to watch the magical golden light of the sun setting on the immense stone walls for some tranquility. You can look forward to tomorrow knowing that you’ll be exploring every inch of this masterpiece. For now, you’ll take an alternative path down to the exit where you’ll board a bus that takes us to the small town of Aguas Calientes to spend the night in a hotel. Before you rest your body for the night, we’ll grab some dinner in one of the town’s best restaurants. Make sure you get to sleep early as you’ll be rising before the sun does tomorrow.
Aguas Calientes | Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo - Cusco
Highlight of the day: Step inside the Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu and explore its ancient streets and incredible architecture.
Explore the Astounding Inca City of Machu Picchu
This is the day you’ve been waiting for. This morning, you’ll need to be up before dawn to arrive at Machu Picchu before all the big groups. Feel goosebumps appear as you walk inside this astounding Wonder of the World. Your guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of the site to all the important parts before leaving you to explore by yourself for a few more hours. If you have tickets to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain pre-booked, this is the time to hike them. Around midday, you’ll head down to Aguas Calientes for lunch, then a train to Ollantaytambo. From there, a bus will be waiting to take you to your hotel in Cusco at 8 pm.
After a well-deserved night’s rest, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Today, you’ll be wandering the mysterious streets of the majestic historical sanctuary of Machu Picchu! You’ll need to be up before sunrise to ensure you beat the crowds. You’ll take a short walk from your hotel to catch a bus that’ll take you on a 25-minute drive to the entrance of the Inca citadel. You’ll enter just before the sun comes up and paints the fortress with a gorgeous golden hue.
After soaking it all in and taking your first few photographs, your guide will take you on a 2-hour guided tour of the site. You’ll be visiting all the most important parts of Machu Picchu and learning a lot from your local expert. Once the tour is up, you then have a few more hours to explore by yourself or climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain if you’ve booked tickets in advance. You’ll need up to 3 hours for either and will experience more stunning views of the whole Inca city. If you don’t have pre-booked tickets, you can also take a free hike up to the Inca Bridge.
When you’re ready to leave, usually after another 5 hours or so, it’ll be time to head back down to Aguas Calientes. You’ll have a bit of time to select a restaurant of your choice for a bite to eat before catching a train, which is usually reserved for 4:22 pm (subject to availability). You’ll arrive in Ollantaytambo by train, and then a private bus will be there to pick you up and take you back to your accommodation in Cusco at around 8 pm.
Now it’s time to enjoy a thoroughly deserved rest and put your feet up. Your trip might be over, but we assure you your heart will be thumping for many years to come as you look back fondly on your incredible adventure.
At Salkantay Trekking, we specify the included and non-included services under all the tour itineraries listed on our website. We take care of all the logistics, but please pay attention to the details, so you don’t miss anything. Some items may be different for specific programs, so please read carefully before booking with us.
What Is Included?
High Quality Service & Safety
You will meet your trekking guide and group in our office for an orientation before your trek. At this time, we will provide you with the duffle bags, which our horses will carry. The meeting will be at 5:00 pm the evening before the trip begins.
All our guides are graduates of the professional career of Tourism of the National University San Antonio Abad of Cusco. We choose them for their professionalism, experience, responsibility, seriousness, unbridled passion for exploring, and sincere desire to proudly share in our culture and history. He or she will keep you safe, sound, and comfortable on your trek so that you can enjoy your time worry-free!
Medical Kit - First Aid Kit
All Salkantay Trekking guides have received specialized training in first aid. We hold mandatory training sessions with our guides every February. Your guide will always carry a first aid kit to face basic emergencies (altitude sickness, travelers' diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) as well as oxygen. If necessary, we’ll evacuate you from the path as quickly as possible and ensure that you arrive at a clinic for treatment.
Customer Service 24/7
We have telephone service available 24 hours a day for ease of communication and preparation with the agency leading up to your trek.
Our main priority will always be the tranquillity of our clients. All of our guides are prepared for emergencies in the mountains; however, being a phone call away from any doctor, hospital, or friend helps you feel more secure. For this reason, each Salkantay Trekking guide has a satellite phone that can be used anywhere on the mountain to call anywhere in the world.
Day 1: Box Lunch and Dinner
Day 2: Breakfast
Snacks on the first day
Local fruits, cookies, chocolate, caramels, water, etc.
One cloth snack bag per person
To avoid the usage of plastic bags that contaminate our environment, we will give you a cloth bag for your snacks.
Products for hygiene
You’ll be provided with a small towel and soap before each meal to clean your hands.
- Day 1: Private transport from Cusco to Ollantaytambo train station.
- Day 2: Private transport from Ollantaytambo train station to your hotel in Cusco.
- Day 1: From Ollantaytambo to KM 104 (Starting point of the trek).
- Day 2: From Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
Consettur Bus Tickets
- Day 1: From Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes.
- Day 2: From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
Permits & Entrance Tickets
Permits and ticket for Inca Trail
As soon as we receive your complete information and the deposit that secures your reservation, we’ll buy all the necessary permits (subject to availability). These permits are issued for a specific date and will be in your name. They cannot be changed under any circumstances. Change of passport number is only allowed for renewal reasons. In that case, you must bring both your old and new passport.
Entrance Ticket to Machu Picchu Archaeological Site
What Is Not Included?
Lunch in Aguas Calientes and Dinner in Cusco (Day 2)
Tips for our staff
Tipping is usual on any excursion to Machu Picchu. Although we pay good salaries to our entire team, something extra is always welcome, especially considering their hard work. Typically, group participants collect their tips to hand out to the horsemen and chefs together.
Additional costs or delays beyond our control
Landslides, bad weather conditions, itinerary modifications due to a safety concern, illness, pandemia, government policy changes, political instability, strikes, act of God, etc.
Here we leave you with a brief list of extras that you can enjoy during this package.
Huayna Picchu Mountain
Huayna Picchu is the mountain behind Machu Picchu and which can be climbed in 45 minutes. Although this excursion is up to you, our guide will take you to the place of entry. This walk requires an entrance ticket which we can assure for you if we have enough time in advance.
Your entry ticket will be purchased to coincide with the dates of your excursion on the Inca Trail. The entry can be done in two shifts: from 7:00 am to 8:00 am or from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. We buy the tickets in the second shift so that our clients can fully enjoy their guided tour of Machu Picchu. Remember, the shifts only indicate the time of entry. You can go up and down Huayna Picchu without haste.
The ticket for Huayna Picchu costs US$ 75.00 per person.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu Mountain is another of the mountains that surround the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. It offers even more incredible views than Huayna Picchu, but it takes 1.5 hours to reach the top. This walk requires an entrance ticket which we can assure for you if we have time in advance.
The excursion entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain is open in two shifts as well, the first from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, and the second from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
The ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain costs US$ 75.00 per person.
All our tours include the PeruRail Expedition train. This train leaves Aguas Calientes at 4:22 pm. The Vistadome train is a higher category service that offers more comfortable seats, a panoramic design that will allow you to see through the roof, as well as an entertainment show on board. The Vistadome train leaves Aguas Calientes at 4:43 pm and goes to Ollantaytambo train station. From there, we’ll take you on our transport to your hotel in Cusco.
You can access this service for an additional payment of US$ 75.00 per person.
We want to make your trip to Peru as memorable and as easy as possible. In this section, you'll find speedy answers to all those questions you had about hiking in Peru with Salkantay Trekking in one place. Please read the following information carefully – it will help you with any questions about our services. Please read carefully the following information – it will help you with any questions you may have about our services.
Have another question that we haven’t answered here? Drop us a line and we will get back to you asap!
How many days do I need to acclimate in Cusco before the Trek?
It is very important to be well acclimated to the altitude before exerting yourself on a trek. We do recommend that you arrive in Cusco at least 2 or 3 days before the trek starts to help you become acclimatized and avoid possible problems with altitude sickness while on the trek.
Suppose you have already been in another area of Peru at a high altitude before arriving in Cusco. In that case, we still recommend you have a whole day in Cusco to rest, recover from your travel, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Cusco before departing for the trek.
Here some suggestions for activities to do in the Cusco vicinity before starting your adventure trek:
This meeting will take place the night before the trek’s departure at 5 pm at our office which is located at Triunfo Street 346. We are 1 block from the Main Square (Plaza de Armas) of Cusco.
Payment of Trek Balance (in Cusco)
The trek has to be paid for in full by at least 7.30 pm two days before your departure. For example, if your tour departs on a Wednesday, then you must come to our office before 7.30 pm on Monday.
It would be much appreciated if you pay the trek balance in cash US dollars or local currency. You can withdraw some money from several ATMs along Avenida Sol (either in US dollars or local Peruvian Soles). You can pay by credit card or PAYPAL online, but you will have to pay an 8% service charge, charged by VISA and PAYPAL. We do not accept bank checks or payment of the balance by traveler’s checks.
Duffle Bag or Canvas Case
You’ll receive a canvas case or duffel bag during your briefing. The porters will take them on the way and deliver them to you when you get to each camp. They measure 66 cm long x 36 cm wide (2 ft x 1 ft).
A maximum of 7 kg / 15 lbs is allowed for each duffel bag, including the weight of your sleeping bag, mat, clothes, and other personal items.
Can I store my luggage at your office?
Of course! During the hike, you can store your main luggage at our office (you can organize it with us on the briefing day or by email) or at your hotel, both free of charge.
Any equipment that you will not need on the trek can be stored safely in your hotel. Nearly every hotel will provide this service. Don’t leave items of value with your bags; put them in the hotel safe and obtain an itemized receipt (in the unlikely case of theft, many insurance companies require that you have a copy of the receipt itemizing all the items). Best put items such as credit cards inside a sealed, signed envelope for extra peace of mind.
Salkantay Trekking can pick you up from your hotel, as long as it’s in the Historic Center of Cusco. Your guide will coordinate the pickup time in the briefing session, but please keep in mind that the time may vary between 30 and 45 minutes due to traffic.
Cusco is an old city; therefore, it has many narrow cobbled streets. Some hotels and Airbnbs may be located on streets without access to cars or on long, steep slopes, making it difficult to transport luggage. We strongly recommend that you book accommodation with good access.
Return to Cusco
Returning from Machu Picchu requires quite a bit of logistics, but don’t worry. Everything is included in your tour!
- In Machu Picchu, you’ll board a bus that will take you for 25 minutes to the small city of Aguas Calientes. The buses are boarded according to your arrival.
- In Aguas Calientes, you’ll board a train to Ollantaytambo or Cusco. Your guide will give you the train tickets where the boarding time will be shown. Make sure you’re on the platform 30 minutes early. The train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes 1:45 hours.
- Once you arrive at the station, our representative, identified with the Salkantay Trekking clothing, will be waiting to transfer you to Cusco or directly to your hotel. The trip from Ollantaytambo to Cusco takes 1:30 hours.
- In Cusco, depending on your hotel’s location, we will take you to a smaller car from our company (Hyundai H1) to transfer you faster to your hotel.
Group tours are made up of different types of people, then physical conditions and ages can vary. By agreeing to be part of a group tour, you also accept that some people may be faster or slower than you. Therefore, each person can go at their own pace on the route.
It may be the case that a group wishes to modify the tour; however, the guide will be the one who decides, after consulting with all the participants, if such modifications are possible.
Strikes and demonstrations
Strikes and demonstrations are usually common in Peru, and this may interrupt some of our tours. Roads can be blocked, and train tracks can be taken over. However, we will try to keep your excursion as planned, even if it means leaving the night before the scheduled date.
In case of changes or cancellations, all situations will be coordinated with you by our operations department. Your safety is our highest priority, and our decisions will be made to protect it.
Please pay attention to where you leave your things and remember to take everything once you leave our buses, tents, or restaurants. You’re the only one responsible for your objects during the tour.
The "2-Day Short Inca Trail" can leave any day of the week, from March through January. We do not run this trek in February because rainy season & maintenance.
2021 Land Cost
Group Price: US$ 500.00 per person
Required Pre-payment: US$ 300.00 per person
Balance (Cusco): US$ 200.00 (Commonly paid in Cusco after the briefing).
This small-group journey is guaranteed to operate with just two guests.
Notice that PayPal charges a fee of 8%, which we ask the client to cover since it's due to the use of its service. This tax is just for online deposits so that you will pay the remaining in cash (the briefing day in Cusco) without charges.
Please, after your deposit, send us the transfer number to firstname.lastname@example.org; only after that, we'll be able to confirm your deposit and reservation.
Extras & Upgrades
There are complementary services and upgrades you can include in this trip.
- Huayna Picchu: US$ 75.00
- Machu Picchu Mountain: US$ 75.00
Extensions & Offers
There are several extensions you can include to your Salkantay Adventure:
- Rainbow Mountain: US$ 100.00 US$ 80.00
- Sacred Valley: US$ 60.00 US$ 50.00
- City Tour: US$ 30.00 US$ 20.00
There are additional items you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices.
- Sleeping bag:: US$ 20.00
- Inflattable mattress: US$ 20.00
- Walking poles (pair): US$ 20.00
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information
Student discounts apply to anyone 17-years-old or younger, and we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to email@example.com.
Thank you for your interest in having an adventure travel experience in Peru curated by Salkantay Trekking. Please take a moment to complete our short form, so one our friendly Adventure Consultants could provide you all the information for your trip of a lifetime in Peru.
Our Pledge | Your privacy is respected and protected. The Salkantay Trekking Company will never share, sell, or make public any of your personal contact information to third parties.
Remember | One of our Travel Experts will contact you soon to confirm the availability of the trip you chose, give you more information, and/or provide you alternative options. Once availability is established, we will ask for a deposit and a completed online registration to confirm your spot on the trek. Please call us at (+51) 958 191 179 with any questions or to confirm availability over the phone.
Note | Due to the rainy season and trail maintenance, we don't offer this trek during the whole month of february. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, we are working to provide you a better service!