ONE day Inca Trail information
Highlights of the 1 DAY Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The main attraction of the ONE day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the chance to walk part of the Inca Trail at a comfortable pace and without the difficulty of the high altitude sections of the trail. You will get to walk in the footsteps of the Inca, visit marvelous Inca constructions along the trail, see your first glimpse of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate and arrive by foot to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail route winds upwards and enters directly into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, just like the Classic Inca Trail. The hiker will enjoy unforgettable views of the valleys below, the surrounding mountains, and trek through lush cloud forests, ending up at the magnificent New 7th Wonder of the World: the Machu Picchu Citadel!
Why hike the ONE day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
- Hike the last 1/3 of the famous Classic Inca Trail, that is on bucket lists worldwide.
- Explore Winay Wayna, an amazing and unique Inca archeological site.
- Trek the actual trail that the Ancient Incas hiked more than 600 years ago.
- Hike through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) all the way to the famous Machu Picchu Citadel.
- Experience the spectacular views of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.
- Visit Machu Picchu Citadel in the late afternoon when it is less crowded.
It is very important for potential trekkers of the 1 Day Inca Trail to understand that you are doing the same trail as the 2 Day Inca Trail, just quicker. Trekkers need to be in moderate to excellent physical condition to be able to do this trek and arrive at Machu Picchu Citadel on time. If you think the trek may be too strenuous, you may book the 2 day Inca Trail which arrives in Machu Picchu in one day but at a slower pace later in the day.
ONE day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Map
This the schedule when do you the 1 day Inca Trail
At 4am we start with you being picked up from your hotel, Then we drive to the train station in Ollantayatambo,
At 6:10am we take the train to Km 104 following the Urubamba River until we reach our destination, where we’ll begin our trek and along the way you’ll see spectacular views of farmlands, snow-capped mountains and the mighty Urubamba River. The Urubamba River is one of the sources of the massive Amazon River so it’s very impressive to see.
By 7:40 am at KM 104 (2,000 m), we’ll begin our breathtaking trek, then we’ll set off to visit our first Inca site. You will get a short orientation about this historical Inca site as well as a walking tour. Then we’ll begin hiking as we head for the Classic Inca Trail. We’ll have tremendous views of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River and other surrounding Inca Sites.
By 11am; After hiking for three hours we’ll reach the most beautiful Incan site on the Inca Trail Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young) at 2,600 m/8,500 ft. Few people get the opportunity to see these elaborate water fountains, temples and agricultural terraces. These provide a perfect opportunity to learn about the history of the Incas. The backdrop of this site is a dramatic cliff drop with beautiful mountains surrounding the area.
By 12:00h; from Wiñay Wayna, we will walk to the Sun Gate, from which you have your first view of Machu Picchu! Though the hour long walk is a gentle rolling up and down, it does end with a set of steep stairs carved directly into the bedrock by the Inca. Once you reach the stairs you will know that you’re almost at the Sun Gate! It is a breathtaking view of Machu Picchu, so take some time to savor the moment and take photos.
By 13h, We start hiking the last 45 minutes down to Machu Picchu, having many opportunities to take more photos of Machu Picchu from this unique vantage point. There are also a couple more important Inca sites between the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu, so make sure to go slowly, enjoy your time walking in the footsteps of the Inca along the Inca Trail and ask your guide questions about these historical places on the last bit of your hike to Machu Picchu.
By 14h; Your guide will give you the full tour, which takes about two hours. You will see all of the most important parts of Machu Picchu. You will also learn about how Machu Picchu is divided into three sectors: agricultural, residential and religious.
Take your time to enjoy this magical experience before you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes.
By 16:30h, you will then take the 25m bus ride to Aguas Calientes.
At 18:20h, you will take the return Expedition train to Ollantaytambo and catch our private van to Cusco and your hotel.
By 22h, you arrive at your hotel in Cusco
Please Note: all times are estimates and can be affected by a number of different factors.
1 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Itinerary
- 01 Cusco – Ollantaytambo – KM104 – Wiñay Wayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes – Cusco
- Your guide will pick you up at your hotel at 4 am in Cusco for the journey with our private transport to the train station of Ollantaytambo. (If you prefer to begin in Ollantaytambo, we will pick you up at your hotel between 5:20 – 5:30). After an hour and 10 minute on the Expedition train, we arrive at Kilometer 104 (2,100m/6,927ft) on the Cusco-Machu Picchu road, where we begin your trek and pass by the first checkpoint. Afterward, we begin a moderate climb for three hours to the magnificent archaeological site of Wiñay Wayna (2,650m/8,747ft). Once we arrive, you will enjoy the spectacular views of the Urubamba canyon, stunning Inca site and the connection with the traditional four days Inca Trail. After your tour of these important Incan ruins, we go to the Wiñay Wayna campground for lunch. You will have a covered place to eat that is close to toilets and sinks for handwashing. After, we have had time to enjoy Wiñay Wayna, we continue our hike towards the Sun Gate (2,730m/9,007ft). From there, you will have the first spectacular view of Machu Picchu in all its brilliance and majestic monumentality. After enjoying the view, we walk downhill for about one hour to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Once there we will visit one of the most important mystic centers of the world: Machu Picchu. A 2 hour guided tour takes you into the fascinating history of these mysterious ruins. On your private tour, your guide will expertly direct you through the enigmatic ruins and its most important sites. After that, you will have plenty of time for taking photos before we head down to Aguas Calientes for dinner. In the evening (6:20 pm), you will take the return Expedition train to Ollantaytambo and catch our private van to Cusco and your hotel. You will arrive at around 10:30 pm. If you upgrade to the Vistadome, you will depart at 6:10pm. Meals: Box lunch Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
Packing Check List for the 1 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Original passport (it has to be the same as the one you hav e used for booking your trek)
- Good daypack (20-30 liters is recommended), It will be carried by yourself – No porters available on this day hike.
- Reusable water bottle (in an effort to reduce plastic waste, disposable bottles are not allowed)
- Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
- Toilet paper
- Windbreaker or warm jacket
- Layers, so you can take off warm clothes when hiking up and bundle up at the top
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes
- Personal medications
- Sun hat, wool wat (only in the cold season) and sunscreen
- Rain gear (if rainy season)
- Snacks like chocolate bars, cereal bars or any dry fruits
- Insect Repellent
- Rain plastic poncho
- Extra money for souvenirs and tips
The weather on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu
On the Inca Trail, the weather depends on whether it is the rainy season or the dry season. The 1 day Inca Trail (Section) is at lower altitude than Cusco, by about 1,000 meters or about 3,000 feet lower. Thus it tends to be a bit warmer during the day and at night.
However, it is more tropical and more humid than Cusco. There is always a chance of rain showers, especially in the cloud forest areas. In the rainy season, these showers will last longer and be much more intense tropical rain showers. The Inca Trail is made of stones laid in the ground so it can be more slippery to walk on in the rainy season.
One day Inca Trail safety tips
- Most of the trek is uphill and with a fair number of precipices, steep cliffs, tons of STEPS (ups & downs), and its humid.
- Tour operators must be licensed, there is NO WAY to do this hike by yourself, see above for recommended operators
- It is very important for potential trekkers of the 1 Day Inca Trail to understand that you are doing the same trail as the 2 Day Inca Trail, just more quickly. Trekkers need to be in moderate to excellent physical condition to be able to do this trek and arrive at Machu Picchu Citadel on time.
- The Hike covers 12km/ 8 miles which can be done in about 5 hours
Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult its the one day Inca Trail?
It is very important for potential trekkers for the 1 Day Inca Trail to understand that you are doing the same trail as the 2 Day Inca Trail, just more quickly. Trekkers need to be in moderate to excellent physical condition to be able to do this trek and arrive at Machu Picchu Citadel in time. If you think the trek may be too strenuous, you may book the 2 day Inca Trail which arrives to Machu Picchu in one day but at a slower pace later in the day.
Where is the starting point of the hike?
The actual hike starts at KM 104, from this point it takes 12km to Machu Picchu.
Do I need permits for this hike?
YES, Government issued permits are required and can only be acquired from a licensed tour operator – Orange Nation
There are only 250 permits per day for the Short Inca Trail. All visitors and professional crew needs a permit. Tickets do sell out fast (Peak season sells out within days) We recommend booking as soon as there’s availability for your preferred dates.
How long does it take from Km 104 to Machu Picchu City?
It takes around 5 to 6 hours, depending on your fitness, it covers 12km in total.
What about the altitude?
Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) above sea level, which is much lower than the city of Cusco — 3,400 meters or 11,152 feet — so it’s likely you won’t suffer from altitude sickness if you’ve already spent time acclimatizing in Cusco first. But if you hike the 1 day Inca Trail it is about 2,700 meters (~8,858 feet) above sea level, so you may feel it, especially if you’re being active. If you’re concerned about altitude, take it slow and drink plenty of water. Sipping coca tea, chewing coca leaves or taking a soroche pill
What is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
Consider visiting Machu Picchu from April through May and from September through October. The high-tourist season months are June, July and August when it doesn’t rain.
When was Machu Picchu discovered?
Machu Picchu wasn’t exactly ‘discovered’ because local people have always known about its existence. In 1911, the American explorer Hiram Bingham made public his findings and -wrongly- called it ‘The Lost City of the Incas’.
Nine years before Bingham had arrived, the Peruvian Agustin Lizárraga had found the ruins and left his signature on one of the walls of the Three Windows Temple in the Citadel.
*** The ONE day Inca Trail Information has been updated in September 2022!