machu picchu

The 1 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a condensed version of the famous multi-day trek, offering a perfect option for those who want to experience the magic of the Inca Trail hike without the commitment of a longer journey. This single-day hike covers some of the most scenic and culturally rich parts of the trail, culminating in the awe-inspiring sight of Machu Picchu. Whether you’re short on time or prefer a less demanding trek, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know for an unforgettable adventure on the Inca Trail hike in Peru.

Overview of the 1 Day Inca Trail Hike

The 1 Day Inca Trail hike starts at kilometre 104 on the railway line that connects Cusco with Aguas Calientes. The trail spans approximately 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) and takes around 6 to 8 hours to complete, depending on your pace. This hike is designed for those who want to experience the highlights of the Inca Trail in a single day, making it an ideal choice for travellers with limited time.

Key Highlights of the 1 Day Inca Trail Hike

  1. Chachabamba Ruins: The journey begins with a visit to the Chachabamba ruins, an ancient Incan ceremonial site. This initial stop offers a glimpse into the historical and spiritual significance of the trail.
  2. Wiñay Wayna: One of the most impressive and well-preserved archaeological sites on the trail, Wiñay Wayna, meaning “Forever Young” in Quechua, features a stunning complex of terraces, temples, and fountains. The site’s dramatic location on the mountainside provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
  3. Sun Gate (Inti Punku): The Sun Gate marks the entrance to Machu Picchu and offers trekkers their first panoramic view of the iconic citadel. Arriving at the Sun Gate as the sun sets over Machu Picchu is a moment of pure magic.
  4. Machu Picchu: The final destination, Machu Picchu, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Exploring the ruins of this ancient city is the culmination of your hike and provides a profound sense of accomplishment.

Why Choose the 1 Day Inca Trail Hike?

1. Time-Efficient: The 1 Day Inca Trail hike is perfect for travellers with limited time who still want to experience the grandeur of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. In just one day, you can cover some of the most beautiful and historically significant parts of the trail.

2. Moderate Difficulty: This hike is less physically demanding than the traditional multi-day trek, making it accessible to a wider range of fitness levels. However, it still provides a satisfying challenge and a sense of adventure.

3. Rich Cultural Experience: Despite its shorter duration, the 1 Day Inca Trail hike is packed with cultural and historical highlights. Visiting sites like Chachabamba and Wiñay Wayna offers a deep dive into the Incan civilisation and its remarkable achievements.

4. Stunning Scenery: The trail offers a diverse range of landscapes, from lush cloud forests and rushing rivers to high-altitude Andean vistas. The ever-changing scenery keeps the hike visually captivating from start to finish.

5. Avoid the Crowds: The 1 Day Inca Trail is less crowded than the traditional four-day route, allowing for a more peaceful and intimate experience on the trail.

Preparing for the 1 Day Inca Trail Hike

To make the most of your 1 Day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, it’s essential to be well-prepared. Here are some key tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable trek:

1. Physical Fitness: While the hike is shorter than the traditional route, it still involves several hours of trekking over uneven terrain. Regular cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and hiking practice can help you prepare for the physical demands of the trail.

2. Permits: Access to the Inca Trail is strictly regulated, and permits are required. These permits are limited and can sell out months in advance, so it’s crucial to book early. Working with a licensed tour operator will help ensure all permits and logistical arrangements are handled smoothly.

3. Packing Essentials: Pack light but wisely. Essential items include a comfortable backpack, sturdy hiking boots, moisture-wicking clothing, a rain jacket, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a refillable water bottle. Don’t forget a good camera to capture the stunning scenery and unforgettable moments.

4. Acclimatisation: Spend a few days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before starting your hike to acclimatise to the altitude. This will help prevent altitude sickness and improve your overall trekking experience.

5. Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour can enhance your experience significantly. Knowledgeable guides provide valuable insights into the history, culture, and ecology of the region, making your journey more informative and enjoyable.

What to Expect on the 1 Day Inca Trail Hike

Early Morning Start: Your adventure begins with an early morning transfer from Cusco to the trailhead at kilometre 104. The early start ensures you have plenty of time to complete the hike and enjoy Machu Picchu.

Chachabamba to Wiñay Wayna: The hike starts with a visit to the Chachabamba ruins before ascending through a lush cloud forest. The trail is well-marked and moderately challenging, offering stunning views and diverse flora and fauna along the way. After a few hours, you’ll reach the breathtaking Wiñay Wayna ruins.

Wiñay Wayna to Sun Gate: From Wiñay Wayna, the trail continues uphill to the Sun Gate. This section of the hike is particularly rewarding, as the anticipation builds for your first view of Machu Picchu. Reaching the Sun Gate, you’ll be greeted with a panoramic view of the ancient citadel, a truly unforgettable sight.

Exploring Machu Picchu: After descending from the Sun Gate, you’ll enter Machu Picchu itself. Your guide will lead you on a comprehensive tour of the site, explaining its historical and cultural significance. You’ll have some free time to explore independently, taking in the majestic architecture and stunning surroundings.

Return to Cusco: After your exploration of Machu Picchu, you’ll take a bus down to Aguas Calientes, where you can relax and reflect on your journey. From there, you’ll catch the train back to Cusco, concluding your unforgettable 1 Day Inca Trail hike.

Best Time to Hike the 1 Day Inca Trail

The best time to undertake the 1 Day Inca Trail hike is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During these months, you can expect clear skies and pleasant hiking conditions. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so booking in advance is essential. The shoulder months of April and October can also be a good choice, offering fewer crowds and relatively good weather.


The 1 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu offers an exceptional opportunity to experience one of the world’s most famous hikes in a single day. This condensed version of the classic trail is perfect for those with limited time or who prefer a less physically demanding trek. With its rich cultural highlights, stunning scenery, and the ultimate reward of reaching Machu Picchu, the 1 Day Inca Trail hike is an adventure you’ll never forget.Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time trekker, this guide provides all the information you need to prepare for and enjoy your journey. Embark on this incredible hike and immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Your adventure awaits in the heart of Peru!

By Anurag Rathod

Anurag Rathod is an Editor of, who is passionate for app-based startup solutions and on-demand business ideas. He believes in spreading tech trends. He is an avid reader and loves thinking out of the box to promote new technologies.