IMPORTANT: Inca Trail permits are required for this hike. Permits sell out 6 months prior to departure. Please don't delay to insure your space!
The one-day hike from Chachabamba to Machu Picchu, also known as the Short Inca Trail, is an excellent alternative to the full Inca Trail tour. We recommend this route for those who lack the time to complete the longer trek or who prefer not to camp. You enjoy a beautiful day of moderate mid-elevation hiking, traversing cloud forests with spectacular views of the Vilcanota River Valley en route to Machu Picchu. Following a night in a hotel of your choice (at additional cost), you spend your second day touring the main Machu Picchu site before returning to Cuzco.
On this 6-mile/9.6-km Machu Picchu trek, you climb a total of 2,600 ft/800 m from the starting point at the Vilcanota River footbridge (km 104 on the Cuzco/Machu Picchu railroad). With stops for lunch and photography, most hikers complete the walk in 6-7 hours. Chachabamba, an intimate cluster of masonry buildings facing a ceremonial plaza, is an exquisite introduction to the Inca integration of landscape, architecture and religion. You climb gradually up from the river, traversing a grassy hillside with the river curling below. After entering a delightful cloud forest glade, you reach a spectacular waterfall. Many hikers enjoy a refreshing all-natural shower here.
Soon after, you come upon the massive lower terrace walls of the Winya Wayna ruins. You climb a long stone staircase flanked by ritual baths, leading to upper Winya Wayna. From Winya Wayna, you merge with the regular Inca Trail for 1.5 hours of mainly level walking to Inti Punku, the Gate of the Sun (8,859 ft/2,700 m). At this point, the highest elevation on the route, you enjoy your first inspirational view of Machu Picchu.