Deciding Between the 2-Day and 4-Day Inca Trail: Which is Right for You?

If you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu, you may be wondering whether to take the 2-day or 4-day Inca Trail. Both routes are popular among visitors, but they offer very different experiences. In this blog post, we’ll compare the two trails and help you decide which is right for you.

The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is an ancient path that was once part of the vast empire of the Incas. It stretches for over 40 miles, from the Sacred Valley near Cusco to Machu Picchu. Along the way, hikers pass through stunning scenery, including lush rainforests, steep mountain passes and a variety of archaeological sites.

inca trail tips
Panoramic view of Machu Picchu

What is the difference between the 2 day Inca Trail vs 4 day?

The 2-day Inca Trail and 4-day Inca Trail both offer an incredible experience of hiking through stunning scenery, but the difference lies in the level of difficulty and the amount of time spent on each trail. The 2-day Inca Trail is less strenuous, with only about 8 miles to hike over two days, although the terrain is still quite challenging. The 4-day Inca Trail, on the other hand, is much more difficult and includes about 26 miles of hiking over four days.

The 2-day Inca Trail also offers less time to explore archaeological sites along the way compared to the 4-day Inca Trail. On the 4-day version, you’ll have more time to take in the sites and learn about the history of the Inca Empire.

The 4 day Inca Trail

The 4-day Inca Trail is the classic route from Cusco to Machu Picchu and offers breathtaking views along the way. You’ll get to experience a variety of landscapes, including highland valleys, cloud forests, and even alpine tundra. This trail is more strenuous than the 2-day option — you’ll be hiking for 4-6 hours each day and camping in the wilderness. It’s definitely a unique experience, but it also requires proper preparation. You should book your hike at least 6 months in advance, as permits are limited, and make sure you have the necessary gear (warm clothes, waterproof jacket, etc.).

The 4-day Inca Trail is a longer and more challenging trek than the 2-day option. It takes four days to complete, covers 26 miles of rugged terrain, and reaches an elevation of 4200m/13776ft. This trail offers breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains, lush valleys, and archaeological sites along the way.

The 4-Day trek has more strenuous climbs and descents than the 2-day trail, so it’s important to come prepared with the right gear. Warm clothing, sturdy boots, lots of water, and plenty of snacks are all essential. Like the 2-day trek, permits for this trail are limited, so it’s important to book in advance.

The 4-day trek offers more time to take in the sights and sounds of the landscape, as well as plenty of time to explore archaeological sites such as Patallaqta and Phuyupatamarka. It’s a great way to experience the wonders of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu at a more leisurely pace.

The Inca Trail hike is Difficult: The Inca Trail hike is no easy feat, and it’s best suited for experienced hikers who are comfortable with strenuous activity. The 4-day trek covers a total of 26 miles of rugged terrain, with most days consisting of 6-10 hours of hiking at an altitude from 2300 m/17545 ft to 4215m/13828ft to the second highest point on the trail and then a steep descent to the archaeological site of Sayacmarca and then a further ascent to 3680m/12073ft. It’s important to come prepared with the right gear—warm clothing, sturdy boots, sleeping bag, and plenty of water are all essential. 

includes in the 4 day Inca Trail the following attractions:

  • Miskay camp
  • Archaeological Group of Patallacta
  • Ruins of Wayllabamba
  • Warmihuañusca Mountain, the highest point.
  • Pacamayo, place of rest.
  • Archaeological Site of Runncurakay
  • Ruins of Sayaqmarca
  • Phuyupatamarca Archaeological
  • Camp and Archaeological Site of Wiñay Huayna
  • Inti Punku or Sun Gate
Tips for Booking the 4 day Inca Trail

If you’ve decided to take the 2-day or 4-day Inca Trail, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Make sure to book ahead: The Inca Trail is a popular route and spaces fill up quickly. It’s best to book your trip at least four months in advance.
  • Hire a guide: A local guide can add so much to your experience, as they have intimate knowledge of the region and its history.
  • Prepare for unpredictable weather: The Inca Trail is located high in the Andes Mountains, so be prepared for a range of weather conditions.
  • Pack light: You’ll be carrying your own gear, so make sure to pack as lightly as possible.

The Inca Trail is an amazing experience and no matter which route you choose – 2-day or 4-day – you’re sure to have an unforgettable adventure. With a little research and preparation, you’ll be ready to take on the challenge of trekking the mysterious Inca Trail. Bon voyage!

inca trail tips
The passage of the dead woman (Warmi Wañusqa) 4215 m.s.n.m.

The Short 2-Day Inca Trail

The 2 day Inca Trail hike is Difficult:The 2 day Inca Trail hike is definitely not for the faint of heart. This trail is a challenging 8-mile trek that takes you through rugged terrain and offers little in terms of respite. With an elevation ranging from 2300 m/17545 ft to 3680m/12073ft, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear—warm clothing, sturdy boots, and plenty of water are all essential.

It’s important to remember to book your hike at least 4 months in advance, as permits are limited. Make sure you have the necessary gear (warm clothes, waterproof jacket, etc.) and that you come prepared for a challenging journey.

includes in the Short 2 day Inca Trail the following attractions:

  • Chachabamba Inka site
  • Archaeological Site of Wiñay Huayna
  • Intipata
  • Inti Punku or Sun Gate
  • Machu Picchu
Tips for Booking the Short 2 day Inca Trail

If you’re planning to take the 2-day Inca Trail, here are some tips to make sure you have the best experience possible.

• Give yourself enough time: It’s important to plan your trip in advance so that you have enough time to get ready. The last thing you want is to be rushed and miss out on the incredible views.

• Choose a reliable tour operator: Make sure your tour operator is accredited, experienced, and has good reviews from past customers.

• Pack appropriately: Make sure you have the right clothing and gear for the trek. The weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you bring layers and rain protection.

• Bring snacks: Pack some snacks to keep you going during the hike.

• Book transportation in advance: Make sure you book your train tickets and any other transport needs in advance so that you don’t have any last-minute issues.

The 10 Best Peru Tours & Trips for Adventure Seekers
Beginning of the Inca Trail Km 82 - Inca Trail 4 days

Enjoy the Inca Trail 2-day or 4 day

The 2-Day or 4-day Inca Trail is an incredible experience that you will never forget. The trail is 8 miles or 26 miles of challenging terrain, but with stunning views of the Urubamba Valley and mountains, it’s worth the effort. With a little preparation and research, you can make your trek a success.

When booking your trip, make sure you give yourself enough time to plan and prepare. Choose a reliable tour operator and make sure you have the right clothing and gear for the trail. With careful planning, you’ll be able to take on this incredible challenge and experience some of the most spectacular views in Peru.

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