Details of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Where Can I Start the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Where Can I Start the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?  To begin the 1 day or 2 day Short Inca Trail, you can be picked up at your hotel in Cusco, Urubamba or Ollantaytambo. Then at Ollantaytambo Train Station, we take the train to the KM 104 where we will start the hike to Machu Picchu (7 miles/12 kilometers and takes around 5 to 6 hours).

If your hotel is in Cusco you will be picked up at about 4 AM, if you are in Urubamba 5 AM and in  Ollantaytambo at 5:30 AM. The train leaves at 6:10 AM to KM104 where you begin the trek.  It will take about an hour and 10 minutes for the train to reach KM104 with your guide. From there you pass through the check point to start the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu passing through the Sun gate.

Note: You cannot begin the Short Inca Trail from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town).  The train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo does not stop at KM 104 to let off passengers to start the Short Inca Trail.  You can only take the train from the Ollantaytambo train station  to begin the trek!

How Long Is the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2 day Walk?

Where Can I Start the Short Inca Trail

The two-day Inca Trail starts at KM104 (2,150m/7,054ft) and is an energetic day hike that reaches Machu Picchu in the afternoon. It’s perfect for families, people short on time and those that don’t like camping.

The 4-5 hour hike snakes uphill to Wiñaywayna before dropping down to the Sun Gate then to our hotel in Aguas Calientes by bus. You get experience  Machu Picchu twice. First in the afternoon from the Sun Gate and Guardhouse and the next morning you get a  fully guided tour inside the  Citadel.  

Distance 7 miles/12 kilometers
Highest point  2,700m/8,858ft.
Aguas Calientes hotel 2,040m/6,693ft

When is the ideal time to make reservations?

Every hiker needs an Inca Trail permit. They are limited and sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Spaces usually sell out early, so you need to book between 2 and 5 months in advance, especially for April through to October when demand for places is high.

The most popular trekking months are May to September, which is Andean summer. Nights are cold and clear, and there is less chance of rain. We have daily Inca Trail departures apart from February when the trek is closed for maintenance.


Don’t forget to build in two to three nights to acclimate to the high altitude in Cusco (3,400m/11,155ft) or the Sacred Valley.

It’s not just the length of the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail trek is 7 miles/12 kilometers long. As we’ve seen, it’s not just about the miles walked. The altitude, acclimatization, and undulating terrain make it a demanding hike that requires training, determination, and respect.

Now you know how long the Inca Trail is, are you ready to take up the challenge with SAM Travel Peru?

Contact us, and you could soon be enjoying one of the world’s most iconic and remarkable walking trails.

Whats is the Short Inca Trail?

***The Inca Trail is a world-famous hiking trail that forms part of the Ancient Inca Road Network. The 2 Day Short Inca Trail takes you on the last third of the Classic Inca Trail through the Sun Gate to the majestic Machu Picchu Citadel! The journey begins as soon as you cross the bridge at KM 104 over the Urubamba River. It offers impressive Inca ruins, expansive mountain views, lush subtropical vegetation and extraordinary ecological varieties.

As you hike on the flat stone steps walked by the ancient Incas, 600 years ago, you pass through cloud forests and finally into the subtropical vegetation of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival to the Guards Gate at Machu Picchu you´ll get to take the picture-perfect postcard photos of Machu Picchu Citadel. Discover multiple historical sites and all that nature has to offer.  

** The “Where Can I Start the Short Inca Trail” Information has been updated on July 2023!