Inca Trail, one of the worlds most famous trails, that leads you to one of the wonders of the world can be done many ways. If you want to hike but hesitate to sign yourself of 3 nights of tenting in the Andean mountains, then a lesser known and less traveled option might be for you (it was for us). Catch the last 15km of the trail, see several Inca sites, and some pretty amazing scenery.
The morning starts early leaving from Cusco at 5am, followed by a two hour bus ride to the train station at Ollantaytambo town. From there you take the train with the other people who aren’t hiking and going straight to Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes), jumping out early, several mountains early, at km 104. From there the rest is by foot.
Get your hiking boots on!
We hit the trail at 9:20 am, it was only a short walk before hitting the first set of Incan ruins. The site is smaller, but surrounded by some gorgeous mountains that were anything but. After a short tour we were back on the trail.
The rest of the morning found us hiking until we reached our second site just before noon. Wiñay Wayna with its amazing terraces, along with near by waterfall was a nice stop just before lunch.
On our way out of Cusco our guides picked up boxed lunches, which we devoured at the lunch stop. Where we ate is actually the 3rd night rest stop for the 4 day Inca Trail Hikers. Lunch was simple, a chicken salad of sorts, with chicken, cold french fries, green beans, and carrots all cooked and mixed together (could have used some hot sauce). Our lunch break took us to about 1pm.
After lunch the trail evened out for a while, from the ups and downs of the morning. As we got close to the sun temple the trail quickly made up for it and through what felt like nearly vertical stairs at us to enter the temple. At the top we got our first glance at Machu Picchu.
Wonder of the World
From the sun temple, about 30 minutes down the trail we reached the upper entrance of Machu Picchu. Along the walk down some of the best views of the site can be had, capturing both the ruins and Huayna Picch mountain (the signature domed mountain behind the site)
Once we had snapped all the pictures we wanted to, it was time to head down to Machu Picchu town.
Our ‘tent’, here is where the glamping comes in. On this option, our tent wasn’t actually a tent at all, but a hotel in Machu Picchu town. A good night’s rest, a nice meal at a local restaurant, and a hot shower!
The second day is used to explore Machu Picchu, the first day you don’t get to actually walk around inside the site because each day requires a separate permit. However you do get plenty of chances for great photos on day one, but the tour and exploring happens on day 2.
If you want the experience of hiking the Inca trail, but camping isn’t your thing then this tour is for you. For this trek we went with Llama Path. Everything was pretty organized, not the cheapest option, but overall I was happy with everything.Make sure to check out our post on planning your trip to Machu Picchu for more tips.
Tuesday 12th of September 2017
Amazing photos! I am doing the trek in October and I have been reading a lot of blogs which say you need Hiking boots. From your photos I can see you have runners. Did you find these okay for the 1 day hike?
Wednesday 13th of September 2017
Glad you found us. We were fine in just regular Nike shoes, I am sure formal hiking boots would be better but it's not necessary. Are you doing a private hike or part of a group?
Saturday 2nd of January 2016
Thank you for your insight, Hannah! We are thinking of visiting Machu Picchu in October and this has given us lots to think about. We still can't decide between the 2 or 4 day one though- we still want the achievement of hiking with the least amount of effort!
Thursday 21st of May 2015
Beautiful photos! We did the full 4-day hike (also with llama path-they were phenomenal - they treat and pay their porters fairly) but your 'glam' trip seems like a great alternative, especially if you're short on time! Wish we were back there :)
Monday 24th of February 2014
I love your photos! What kind of camera did you use?
Thursday 27th of February 2014
Adam uses a Nikon dslr for our photos. We carry 11/16mm and 18/270mm.
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
Wednesday 13th of November 2013
Very cool!! Love the photos. Congrats on a great accomplishment!
Thursday 14th of November 2013
It was a great day for an incredible hike! Glad you liked the photos. Not sure congrats are in order, since we cheated a little on the Inca trail.....