We booked the short 2-day Inca Trail hike via Apu Andino Tours (Edgar was awesome!) and we were so happy that we did! The 2-day hike is perfect for those who don't have the time, energy or desire for the 4-day hike. Here is how your hike will go if you depart from Cusco (consider the option of staying overnight in Ollantaytambo to enjoy some extra sleep):
5:30 am -depart Cusco
5:30-6:45 am drive to Ollantaytambo
7:15 am train to 104 km spot
Approx 9:00 am go through check-point to enter Inca Trail
Hike 5-7 hours to Inti Pinku (Sun Gate) for your first view of Machu Picchu
The train from Ollantaytambo was wonderful and incredibly scenic (try to get the car with the windows in the roof and sit in the river side at least one way). When you get near the 104 km spot, your guide or the train conductor will let you know. You may be looking for a station but there isn't one. You are dropped off in the middle of the jungle where you walk just a couple minutes to the sign that marks the 104km. You will then cross a bridge over the Urubamba River and go through the check-point to gain entry to the Inca Trail. You will need your passport to enter....and you get a stamp in your passport! At this point, there is a restroom (bring your own tissue) and you can complete final details such as sunscreen, bug spray, etc. Then...it's time to begin the hike. You will go up, up, up for several hours over many stone stairs and then the trail will hug the mountain ridge which was beautiful. Views are wonderful and all of a sudden you will notice not one, but three sets of ruins, one of which is Winay Wayna. As you get closer you begin to realize how awesome Winay Wayna is - this is my absolute fave ruin (with the exception of Machu Picchu of course). You will arrive Winay Wayna at the base and climb up it to soak in an incredible view from above. Sit down for a bit here and really let this place impact you. We had the ruins nearly all to ourselves, with less than 10 people there. The only way to see Winay Wayna is to hike in as it is super remote and You will understand why these ruins were hidden for so many years.
** The greatest benefit of this hike is that you get TWO options to see Machu Picchu and take photos. While our first visit was sunny, the next morning was very foggy and it was cool to see the ruins in both conditions. The fog does generally burn off mid-morning. Once you reach Machu Picchu you will get to take some photos and gawk for a bit before going to Aguas Calientes to spend the night. The next morning, you will get at least a half day to fully explore this masterpiece.
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