1 Day Inca Trail VS 2 Days Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

By shortinca
September 17, 2018
Machu picchu and Wayna Picchu view from sun gate

We have the best information about the “1 Day Inca Trail VS 2 Days Inca Trail to Machu Picchu”, review it and see what or which option would the best for you according your fitness and time.

Note: Both trails cover exactly the same distance, follow the same route and visit the same Inca sites. The biggest difference is that the One-Day has to be done at an accelerated pace. This mainly because you need arrive at Machu Picchu in time to explore the citadel. Whereas in the 2-Day trail, you only explore the citadel the next day.

*** The 1 day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu is recommended for moderately fit or fit people ONLY.

The 1 Day Inca Trail

If you are strapped for time, but still wish to check the famous Inca Trail of your bucket list, then look no further than the amazing 1-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You will follow in the ancient footsteps of the great Inca Empire doing the last third of the 4-day Classic Inca Trail. You get to hike the Inca Trail and a guided tour of Machu Picchu, all in the same day.

Trekkers still get the same stunning cultural show of Inca ruins, exotic side by side mountains, and the beauty of the primitive lush vegetation. The ancient Inca road goes through the Peruvian National Reserve with cloud pitted forests, subtropical vegetation including several varieties of orchids. 

The trail enters straight into Machu Picchu Citadel through the Sun Gate.  You get a private tour visiting all of the hidden corners of the Inca city.

*Passengers either take the train back that evening, whereas others choose to spend the night in Machu Picchu town.

**It is important that potential trekkers understand that they need to be in moderate to excellent physical condition to be able to complete the trek and arrive at Machu Picchu in time for their guided tour before the citadel closes. 

If a hiker thinks the trek of 12KM or 8 miles might be too strenuous we suggest that they consider booking the 2 day short Inca Trail which provides the trekker more time to trek, visit sites, and hike at a slower pace enjoying the sites.

2 Day Short Inca Trail

The Short Inca Trail 2 day trek is another very popular option to many travelers who are also strapped for time. The biggest appeal is that you do the trek at a slower pace compared to the 1-day.

The trail is home to a great diversity of flora including orchids, molles, cedars and so much more. The fauna begs you to leisurely explore with unique species like llamas, alpacas, giant hummingbirds, cock-of-the-rocks and if you are lucky the very illusive Andean bear. The landscape which comprises of the picturesque Urubamba Valley, the calming river below and stunning snow capped mountain tops shouldn´t be rushed. Enroute there is also two must-see Archeological sites of Chachabamba and Wiñay Wayna. Both ruins have a fascinating history and the genius behind the engineering techniques used will take your breath away.

The trail enters straight into Machu Picchu Citadel through the Sun Gate. You get your first glorious view of the citadel as sun begins to set behind the great Inca site and the crowds begin to thin. Your first visit in the afternoon allows you plenty of opportunities to take Instagram worthy photos from the Guardhouse with very few people in your shot. Day 2, is all about the 07th of Wonder of the World, the majestic Machu Picchu. Enjoy a 2.5 hour guided tour and if you have booked in advance, a hike up one of the two famous mountains surrounding Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain.

This is the perfect hike for those doubting their fitness levels and who also wish to take their time to soak in this once in a lifetime experience.


  • You visit Wiñaywayna which is an amazing and unique Inca city
  • You are hiking the last 1/3 of the famous Classic Inca Trail that everyone worldwide desires to hike.
  • You are hiking the actual trail that the Ancient Incas hiked more than 600 year ago.
  • You get to hike through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) all the way to famous Machu Picchu Citadel.
  • The views from the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu Citadel are spectacular.
  • You get to visit Machu Picchu Citadel twice, the 1st and 2nd day of the trek.


Times are approximately and depends on your fitness. Permits need to be booked in advance! Contact us for more information: Short Inca Trail

The 1 Day Inca Trail VS 2 Days Inca Trail to Machu Picchu information was updated in June 2023.

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