Inca Trail 1 Day Trek: A Complete Guide

The Inca Trail is an iconic hike that leads visitors through stunning mountain landscapes, cloud forests, and ancient ruins. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America, attracting thousands of hikers every year.

While the traditional Inca Trail trek takes 4 days and 3 nights to complete, there is also a shorter version known as the Inca Trail 1 day trek. This trek is perfect for those who are short on time or prefer a less physically demanding option. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about the Inca Trail 1 day trek.

What to Expect

The Inca Trail 1 day trek starts at Kilometer 104 and ends at the famous Sun Gate, where hikers can catch their first glimpse of the majestic Machu Picchu. This trek covers approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and takes about 6-7 hours to complete.

The trail is well-paved and relatively easy with some steep sections, requiring moderate physical fitness. Along the way, you will pass through lush forests, cross bridges over rivers and streams, and climb stone steps. The highlight of the trek is reaching Inti Punku (Sun Gate), where you will have a breathtaking view of Machu Picchu.

Permits and Regulations

Just like the traditional Inca Trail, the Inca Trail 1 day trek also requires a permit to enter. These permits are limited to only 500 per day, including guides and porters, so it’s essential to book your trek in advance. You can obtain permits through a licensed tour operator or buy them online directly from the Peruvian government website.

It is also mandatory to hire a professional guide for the Inca Trail 1 day trek. This is for the safety and preservation of the trail and its surroundings. Guides are knowledgeable about the history and culture of the area, making your trek even more meaningful.

Packing List

Some essential items to bring for the Inca Trail 1 day trek include:

  • Comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Rain jacket or poncho (the weather can be unpredictable)
  • A small backpack with a water bottle and snacks
  • Camera or phone for capturing the stunning views
  • Cash for tipping your guide and porter

It’s also important to pack light, as you will be carrying your own belongings during the trek. Most tour operators provide sleeping bags and mattresses, so there is no need to bring those.

Below is a sample itinerary for a 1-day hike on the Inca Trail

  • 4:00 a.m Start with the transfer from Cusco to Ollantaytambo train station.
  • 6:10 a.m Take the train from Ollantaytambo to Km 104 to the starting point of the trek.
  • 7:35 a.m Start at Km 104, located near the town of Aguas Calientes.
  • 8:15 a.m Hike through lush jungle, passing ruins and breathtaking views.
  • 12:15 p.m Arrive at Wiñay Wayna, a beautiful Inca site with terraces and fountains.
  • 12:45 p.m Continue to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), the entrance to Machu Picchu.
  • 14:15 p.m Descend to Machu Picchu and explore the ancient city.
    Optional: climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain for breathtaking views.
  • 16:15 p.m Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Cusco.
  • 19:00 p.m Take the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
  • 20:40 p.m Transfer in a private van from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco.
    back to Cusco.

Remember that this is only one possible itinerary for a 1-day Inca Trail trek. There are many variations and options available depending on your preferences.


The Inca Trail 1 day trek may be shorter than the traditional multi-day trek, but it still offers an incredible experience. Not only do you get to witness the stunning beauty of Machu Picchu, but you also get a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Incas.
So if you’re short on time or not up for a longer trek, the Inca Trail 1 day trek is a perfect alternative.

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