Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: What to Expect Day-by-Day

Prepare for an amazing journey to the adventurous paths of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This ancient trek offers you amazing views mixed with the rich history in just two incredible days. Discover is the day-by-day offering of this trail in our guide and daily breakdown. 

This trek is perfect if you have limited days in your itinerary. So, you’ll experience the breathtaking scenery with all the Inca ruins of the trail and the allure of the diverse ecosystems. Get ready to be amazed by the cultural and natural highlights that the Short Inca Trail with Xtreme Tourbulencia has to offer.

Xtreme Tourbulencia crafted this special day-by-day guide to help you know exactly what to expect. We will take you from the starting point to the final one in Machu Picchu. So, prepare to capture memories and experiences along Peru’s most famous trail.

Day 1: Setting Out from Cusco to Winay Wayna

This exciting journey begins with an early departure and the pick up from your hotel in Cusco. Then we will have a mid-lasting journey to the Ollantaytambo Station. If you choose Xtreme Tourbulencia as your tour operator we will ensure a smooth transfer.

The real journey begins with the boarding to the Vistadome train for a scenic ride. We will traverse along the rivers of the Sacred Valley

As the train goes along the railways, the landscape changes from the open lands and cities to verdant scenery. This is your gateway to the trails and breathtaking views that will capture your memories. The final stop of our train is at Km 104, here we will begin our trekking to Machu Picchu.

Most tour operators will provide you with a box lunch so you will be able to start your trail. Our guide will lead the group along this amazing path. The trek has moderate difficulty, so the start is gentle with the hikers.

This allows you to witness the cloud forest’s lush and greenery. As we ascend, we will find the beauty of the silence combined with the rustling leaves and distant bird calls.

Ascending Toward Wiñay Wayna: A Trek Through Time

Our first highlight will be the  archaeological site of Chachabamba. This place is underrated by the ones that choose the 4-day Inca Trail. So, take this chance to enjoy a quiet moment of the lesser-seen vista. The guide will talk about all the necessary insights about the site’s past. 

For example, the Chachabamba site was a place for rituals. It has several water sources that may have worked as ceremonial baths.

The path will steep and you will see how the real challenge begins as you climb. Also, you will see how the cloud forest increases its greenery and life. If you are lucky, you can find an orchid or the more common ferns.

As we get closer to the midway, we will see Wiñay Wayna. Its name means “forever young” and its terraces and staircases are proof of that. The Wiñay Wayna site is the best representation of the Incas’ ingenuity of agriculture and respect to their natural geology.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: What to Expect Day-by-Day

Lunch with a View: Refueling Amidst Ancient Wonders

We will have enough time to get to know Wiñay Wayna. We will refuel the necessary energies to capture the surroundings and embrace your experience. After we have lunch, we will explore deeper into the site with a general explanation. 

Some dare to say that this site rivals the beauty of Machu Picchu.

Our guide will explain the significance of Wiñay Wayna. The information received will create a strong connection with the Inca beliefs and ancestral practices. You will learn about the rituals that may have occurred in this place that increases the sense of belonging.

Once we are recharged and enlightened, the trek resumes. The path will change and will have various ascents and descents that will reveal new wonders to your eyes. With every step you will strengthen the bond with your travel group. Every step will take you closer to the world wonder Machu Picchu.

Approaching Inti Punku: The Gateway of the Sun

The final segment of the first day of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu passes close to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate). This portal once served as a check in for the ones that arrived at the citadel. Now is the place where you can have the first view of Machu Picchu for most trekkers.

If you have the chance, witness the sunlight posing behind the mountains of the Sun Gate. Now, you will have to prepare to see Machu Picchu, but first a small trek until you arrive.

With each step along the hike to Machu Picchu, you will feel the excitement building. With no doubt this is the highlight for every hiker: watch  the citadel through the Sun Gate. It is a gratifying surprise for the day’s hard work and a promise of what’s to come tomorrow. 

The descent is before the dusk falls and the trail leads you to the overnight stop. Unlike those who pick the 4-day Inca Trail, your journey allows you a comfortable night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes. This town offers you opportunities to think about the day’s adventures with tranquil sounds. 

Reflections and Anticipations: A Night in Aguas Calientes

The accomodation at your hotel in Aguas Calientes will offer you the contrast between the trail and the cozyness. Machu Picchu Pueblo is full of fellow travelers and trekkers who offer you a warm environment and relate. Also, you will have the chance to share stories and get ready for the final day.

The town also has great dinner options. They offer you the best of Peruvian cuisine. 

Your night will be peaceful for all the effort made during the day. This day of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will have shown you part of this magic, and yet, the best is still to come. Our second and final day promises the dawn at Machu Picchu.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: What to Expect Day-by-Day

Day 2: The Final Stretch to Machu Picchu

As the dawn approaches Aguas Calientes, we will get ready for the day ahead on the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Today’s segment will have all the necessary excitement and the promise of reaching the famed citadel. After a quick breakfast in your hotel, prepare your gear, fill your water bottle and set your camera.

The journey to the Inca citadel begins with a short bus ride. The winding road goes up the mountain to the final trail. Depending on your travel season, you may feel the crisp air or the warm wind. As you ascent you will feel the anticipation among the fellow adventurers. 

Once you are at the final stop, your guide will lead you with a steady pace. If you don’t opt for the bus, you can reach by foot. 

The path to the entry is steep but it is really worth it. This trail is witness to thousands of  travelers who have embarked on this same sacred journey. The guide will show you various types of flora and fauna that will add a stunning landscape.

With every step, you will feel the Machu Picchu journey closer and closer. You will not mind the tiredness, but the journey and the destination.

Through the Gate of the Sun: First Glimpse of Machu Picchu

The moments lived while you pass through the Sun Gate, will be compared. As soon as you reach the guardian’s house you will have amazing views of Machu Picchu.

You will hear the cameras clicking and smiles forming, every visitor finds Machu Picchu as stunning. The citadel and the mountains unfold below the most impressive views.

The photos don’t do the landscape justice. Then, you will recognize that you are lucky by being there experiencing all this adventure. 

After this moment of awe, you will continue the path along the citadel. But every time you will be surrounded by beautiful vistas.

The path from the entrance to the citadel is a reflective trek. Every turn will make you think that you have already arrived. Also, they will get you closer to one of the world’s wonders.

While you don’t see the iconic view of Machu Picchu, the excitement builds as you pass through lush greenery and steps. Finally, you reach the entrance and the famous spot where your guided tour of Machu Picchu will begin.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: What to Expect Day-by-Day

Exploring the Citadel: A Guided Tour of Machu Picchu

The entry times to the citadel aim to avoid the largest crowds. Once you are on the right spot or the iconic point, your guided tour will begin. Your guide will take you through the main areas while explaining the historical significance of each structure.

For example, you will see the Sun Temple, the Room of the Three Windows, and the Intihuatana stone. But remember, some of these are up to availability.

As we walk through the ruins, we will witness the Inca engineering that resonates in every structure. Every stone is a great representative of the understatement of astronomy, agriculture and architecture. The constructions show the connection between the Incas and the respect for their environments. 

Also, your guide will accompany you through every structure answering every question.

The explanation will expand in some various points, also we will pause to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. The guided tour will enhance your appreciation of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The end of the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will fill you with the sense of physical achievement. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will give you a profound educational experience.

Reflections on the Journey: The Return to Cusco

After our Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour we will have some free time before heading back to Aguas Calientes. There, you can explore every lunch option available. While you eat, reflect and share your journey with your fellow hikers.

Every conversation must have a comment on this trail. Whether it is a discussion or a favorite moment, remember them. 

The trip to Cusco is relatively easy. We will take a train ride that allows you to rest and watch the rest of the Sacred Valley. This is a totally different experience.

Your hotel in Cusco awaits for you to receive you with all the necessary comforts. Your bed will feel like the best cloud in the sky. End your day with a warm shower to relax your muscles after all the physical effort. 

The dinner in Cusco is a great chance to spread your memories about the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The different context will contrast the wilderness of the nature lived in our tour.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: What to Expect Day-by-Day

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