The two-day Inca Trail - the new Inca Trail option
Inca Trail trekking permits sell out faster than ever these days.
Anybody travelling before September this year will again be disappointed to learn that they have missed out on permits for the traditional 4 or 5 day trek.
What many don't know, however, is that since last year the authorities in charge have started to distinguish between the traditional Inca Trail permits and permits for the so-called 2 day Inca Trail.
There are 500 permits available per day for each option, and while the longer trek sells out quickly, the short Inca Trail is still a dark horse and has surprisingly good availability on most days.
Calling it a 2-day Inca Trail is a little misleading - really it is a day's walk from km104, uphill to the site of Winay Wayna and on to Machu Picchu from there. Day 2 is spent exploring Machu Picchu.
This Km104 starting point is a little further down the road from the starting point for the 4-day Inca Trail, km82.
More, more, more!
You can take this 2-day option as a walk on its own, but for a deeper, fuller trekking experience we would always recommend adding it onto one of the many fabulous trekking options in the Sacred Valley.
Our personal favourite at the moment is a combination of the Lares trek and the short Inca Trail. It is such a perfect mix of a cultural trekking experience with the satisfaction of joining the original, ancient Inca Trail. There’s the added bonus of arriving at Machu Picchu through the famous "sun gate", perched on a great vantage point overlooking the site.
On the Lares Trek you will trek for 4 days amidst stunning Peruvian highland scenery and pass local weaving and llama herding communities. Culture and traditions are what define this area of Peru and you will gain a great understanding of rural Peru as you hike. High mountain passes, sub-tropical valleys and hot springs add to the mix.
The trek finishes at the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo and it is here that we overnight before continuing our adventure the next morning and linking up to the short Inca Trail.
Onwards and upwards
Prepare yourself for a long, hot, uphill slog (4 hours) - but also prepare yourself for a treat at the site of Winay Wayna.
The last site before reaching Machu Picchu, Winay Wayna is reserved for only those that trek the Inca Trail and is well worth visiting, clinging beautifully to a steep hillside, lazy llamas grazing between its ruins and terraces. Only trekkers pass through here, so it is still a fairly quiet site.
Having passed by, the last couple of hours are spent on a beautiful stretch of ancient Inca path through woodlands until emerging at the sun gate.
The site of Machu Picchu lies before us and after trekking it seems so much more of an achievement than arriving by train. We won't have a guided tour today, but instead will seize the photo opportunity from our view point and wander on down to the town of Aguas Calientes to spend the night ... and soak our satisfyingly aching muscles at the local hot springs.
We return for our guided tour the following (sixth) day to learn more about this fascinating archaeological site , before returning to Cusco that afternoon.
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