Not sure if you're ready for the rigors of the 4-day Inca Trail hike? Perhaps you prefer a faster one day hike? Whatever your reasons, almost anyone can enjoy the adventure of hiking the Inca Trail without the strenuous 4-day trek. The 2-day Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu is a packaged getaway that gives you the adventure of a hike combined with the comfort of a hotel. Best suited for people who want to experience a hike, but may not have time, the fitness level to hike the 4-day Inca Trail, or who prefer not to camp.
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Day 1 - From your hotel in Cusco/Train/hike Inca Trail 12 Km/overnight Hotel in Aguas Calientes
Day 2 - Breakfast/shuttle bus to Machu Picchu/guided tour/train to Cusco/back to your hotel
Full description of the entire 2 day tour:
The trip is a 2-day mini-tour to Machu Picchu and includes one day of guided hiking and one-day guided tour of Machu Picchu ruins. Throw in an overnight in a hotel and you have a packaged getaway that gives you the adventure of a hike combined with the comfort of a hotel. Day 1 starts at your hotel in Cusco (or the Sacred Valley) and Day 2 ends at the same place. You spend one night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes. Choose from 3* – 5 * accommodations. Prices for this 2-day package start at $515 pp. including 1 night accommodation and full-time, English-speaking guide. We take care of the details, so you don't have to.
Start by packng a day-pack with essentials for your overnight & your hike: sunscreen, camera, hat, warm layers, rain gear, snacks, bottled water & all your valuables. You will not take all your luggage to Machu Picchu. For your overnight in Aguas Calientes, pack a few extra things including minimal toiletries, a change of clothes and jammies. The train does not have baggage cars and the limit is one carryon size bag or backpack per person, which must be stowed under your seat or at the end of the carriage. (It's not like the airline where they measure your bag) And the thing to remember is that you are walking everywhere and you have to carry all your luggage. Guides are incredibly helpful and will go all out to assist you, but one guide can only carry so many extra bags at a time.
We pick you up early, (very early), on day 1 and transport you to the Perurail station where you and your backpack will board the early train (did we mention that it was the early train?) At km 104, the train comes to a complete stop in the jungle and the guide will jump off first, then help you down onto the side of the tracks. At this point, you wave goodby to the train.
It's a pretty awesome experience to watch as the train pulls away and your little group is left standing in the jungle with no signs of civilization, not even Starbucks! You cross a sturdy footbridge over the crashing Urubamba River, to the check-in station. Your guide will present your permits (we take care of all this ahead of time) and you use the toilet one more time before you start hiking. Now is a good time to slather sunscreen.
The hike winds diagonally up the side of the canyon away from the river and the railroad tracks. It dips in and out of the shade and can get quite warm. But never fear, cool temperatures are always nearby.
You'll pass some impressive waterfalls, but more impressive are the stone steps that take you up through the center of the steep, but fascinating Winay-Wayna ruins. Next thing you know, you'll pass through a wooden gate that takes you to the campground where everyone who hikes the 4-day Inca Trail sleeps on their last night. You will not sleep here.
You'll stop for lunch (included in the cost of your tour), restrooms and overpriced sodas, then continue through another check-point and before you know it, you're actually climbing downhill. Don't worry, it goes up again. The forest becomes dank and dark and might be raining as you tread over ancient roots and stone steps. It looks like a place where fairies and gnomes live.
Finally, when you see a short wall of stone steps (short depends on how tired you are) that literally requires you to use your hands as well as your feet, you'll know you are close to the Sungate. Inti-punku.
Once you cross the Sungate, the sky opens and if it's clear, below you will see the hallowed ruins in the all their glory. If it's cloudy, just wait 5 minutes, things could change and you could still see the ruins. Take your photos quickly if it's clear and save the ooing and aaawwing for the cloudy moments. Rest a bit, then start the descent to the ancient city below. You'll walk stone paths and stairs for at least 30 – 40 minutes.
You will have walked 12 km (you will learn metric!) by the time you arrive at the ruins. If it's sunny, take a few more photos. A quick look around is enough before heading down to the park entry and the shuttle buses. The 30 minute bus ride stops in Aguas Calientes in 2 places. One stop is at Av. Hermanos Ayar by the Urubamba River. Then it continues up the same street following the tributary a short distance before the final stop. If your hotel is near the top of the town, you'll want to ride the bus to the very end. Your guide will tell you which stop is yours. But it doesn't really matter. The town is small and aside from the shuttle buses and train, there are no other vehicles or modes of transportation other than your feet.
A little rest, a shower, then it's time to check out the town. Remember, what goes up, must come down. The town is steep and there are only 2 streets that go up; Pachacutec and Hermanos Ayar. The restaurants and bars will be open to the streets and the proprietors may be standing in the entries offering incentives for you to come in. Enjoy your evening in Aguas Calientes, then get a good nights sleep so you can enjoy your 2nd visit to the ruins the next morning.
Your guide will tell you what time you are leaving and therefore what time you need to get up and eat breakfast. You may leave your backpack at the hotel and take a small drawstring bag with camera, sunscreen, hat, rain gear, bottled water, mini-first aid kit and snacks (or picnic lunch). All hotels offer an early breakfast. The first bus gets loaded by 5:20 am for visitors who want to arrive by 6 am for the park opening. The line to get in could be very long. Patience is a virtue and will serve you well in times like this. Sometimes, there is no line. But it is unpredictable. (unless you have a crystal ball)
Your guide will handle the tickets and steer you through the entry then assist you up the stone steps for about 20 minutes as you enter the magnificent Machu Picchu ruins. Most traffic will be going up since everyone is arriving. However, when you come down, be aware that the narrow paths will have 2-way foot traffic and it could be slow. Young people who have good knees will want to leap down the path, while older folks will pretend to hitch up their britches as they gasp for air with every step. Again, patience is the key. Best to allow extra time to return to the entry.
Not wanting to spoil your visit, I won't go in to the details of the guided tour. Rest assured you will be amazed. Each tour is different. Each guide is different. Each group of visitors is different. Your tour will be unique. The park is 32 acres of terraces and stone buildings, gardens & open spaces. There is something for everyone.
Maintenance of the ruins is a year-round initiative and caretakers scrape plants from the cracks of the structures and plant grass in worn areas. The treasure of Machu Picchu belongs to all of us and while the Peruvians bear the burden of the upkeep, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to do our part. Whatever that is. I'm sure you'll figure it out.
The guide will make sure you know what time your train departs so that you know when your visit is over. After the guided tour, you can wander on your own to explore and discover and dream about what it might have been like to live there. Or to be the first westerner to see it. Take the shuttle down to Aguas Calientes where you collect your luggage and (like running the gauntlet) passengers walk through the market to enter the station. Just try not to buy something. HA! The marketing geniuses who built the market around the entry to the train station must now be sitting on thrones of melted Inca gold.
You board your train which rambles through the Urubamba valley to Ollantaytambo. Try not to fall asleep. The stewards will serve tea and coffee. You deboard with your daypack and your carryon in Ollantaytambo and walk to the vehicle waiting to take you back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley or Cusco.
And so ends your 2-day adventure. A little hiking with the comfort of a hotel. And your adventure to the lost city of the Inkas becomes one of your fondest memories.