Short Inca Trail

This short Inca Trail tour was designed as an alternative to the four day classic Inca Trail hike. Travel to Peru and explore the Andes Mountains on this exciting Machu Picchu tour. Visit the Sacred Valley and tour the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The short Inca Trail hike starts at Km 104, stopping at the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Spend several hours visiting these spectacular ruins before our Peru tour takes you to the famous Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. Spend two days explor... READ MORE >>
Itinerary
Day 1 LIMA
Day 2 LIMA - CUSCO – SACRED VALLEY
Day 3 MORAY AND MARAS
Day 4 SACRED VALLEY – INCA TRAIL HIKE KM 104 - MACHU PICCHU
Day 5 MACHU PICCHU – CHINCHEROS ARTISAN MARKET - CUSCO
Day 6 CUSCO
Day 7 CUSCO - LIMA
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Itinerary
Day 1 LIMA

Arrive and be transferred to your hotel. If you arrive in Lima early, we can arrange optional tours to explore the city, inclu

Day 2 LIMA - CUSCO – SACRED VALLEY

In the morning, you will fly to Cusco, center of the Inca Empire. Southern Explorations guides will be waiting at the Cusco airport to take you on a day-long guided excursion through snowcapped mountains to the Incas’ legendary Sacred Valley. Along the way, you'll pass Inca terracing on steep valley walls and see the ruined temples of Pisac with panoramic views of jagged peaks before stopping in the town of Pisac to visit one of the Andes’ best textile markets. After lunch, you will travel to Ollantaytambo (9,185 ft.), a small town with a remarkable Inca fortress and spend the night at an Ollantaytambo hotel. (B,L) 

Day 3 MORAY AND MARAS

Today you pass small farms above beautiful Urubamba Valley to reach Moray. Here three circular terraces, thought to have been used by the Incas as an open-air crop experimentation station, are located. You continue past the living village and pre-Inca settlement of Maras. At this photogenic spot, a geo-thermally heated stream feeds hundreds of small salt terraces which create a bizarre white-on-brown landscape that has been used for salt mining since well before the Incas. Return to your Ollantaytambo hotel in the late afternoon. (B,L)

Day 4 SACRED VALLEY – INCA TRAIL HIKE KM 104 - MACHU PICCHU

Departure from Ollantaytambo by train 7:05 am. 8:30 am arrive at station KM 104. After registering at the checkpoint, begin the hike to WinaWayna (approx. 3.0 hours). During the hike you will see ruins, waterfalls and many varieties of flora and fauna. Spend one to two hours exploring the impressive and beautiful ruins of WinaWayna. From here it is another 2 hour walk to arrive at Machu Picchu. You will arrive in the ruins in the late afternoon when there are few visitors. After a brief tour of Machu Picchu, transfer to Aguas Calientes by bus. Spend the night in a charming hotel in Aguas Calientes. The evening is free to explore this charming town and soak in the hot springs. (B,L) 

Day 5 MACHU PICCHU – CHINCHEROS ARTISAN MARKET - CUSCO
Take the early morning bus to Machu Picchu to enjoy the sunrise at Machu Picchu. This is an excellent opportunity for great photos. After experiencing the sunrise, explore the citadel of Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas. Possibilities include climbing Huayna Picchu, the sacred mountain behind Machu Picchu, a visit the temple of the moon or the Inca Drawbridge. An early afternoon train returns you to Ollantaytambo, where you will have the opportunity for some last-minute shopping at the Chincheros Market. This cooperative artisan haven is renowned for its impressive textiles, some of the best in the country. Here the local artisans will explain their ancient craft and its rich history before you return to Cusco for your last night in the Inca heartland. (B) 
 
Huayna Picchu – 7AM Shift
Hiking Details: 1.25 miles; approximately 2-3 hours hiking, the trail is narrow and very steep
Altitude min/max: from 7,970 ft to 8,835 ft.
 
*Machu Picchu entrance morning shift
 
Day 6 CUSCO
This morning you take a guided walking tour through Cusco’s colorful markets before visiting the colonial cathedral and Koricancha, the impressive Temple of the Sun. After lunch of regional cuisine, you tour the remaining prominent Inca sights in and around Cusco. These include the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, with its megalithic stone terraces; Kenko, with carved stone surfaces and subterranean altars; Puka Pukara the small fortress that once protected the royal capital; and the water temple, Tambo Machay. In the late afternoon, you return to your hotel to relax or explore the fascinating mix of Cusco cultures on your own. (B) 
 
Day 7 CUSCO - LIMA

You'll be transferred in the morning to the airport for the return flight to Lima and your connecting international flight, marking the end of Southern Explorations services. We'd be happy to arrange trip extensions to other regions or extra days in Lima or Cusco. (B)

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Peru is a diverse country. With beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert, there is no off-season. But it does pay to know a bit about where you're going, and what you'll need on your Peru tour:

The Andes - Though officially part of the dry season, April and May are considered the Andean spring, while June through October marks the Andean summer. Mid-day temperatures range from 70 to 80 F in the sun. Nighttime temperatures in Cusco range in the 40s F and can dip into the 30s F. Weather is usually clear in the morning with clouds accumulating in the afternoon. Rain can happen in any season, so quality rain gear is essential.

The Amazon - A rainforest environment, the Peruvian Amazon has varied weather conditions and frequent unpredictable rain showers. It is generally hot and humid during the day with more comfortable temperatures through the night. Daytime high temperatures average between 82° and 93° F, and the average nighttime low is between 62° and 73°. Nevertheless, in some areas cold fronts can sweep into the Amazon and push daytime high temperatures down to 50° F and nighttime lows to 43° F. Any time of year, one should always be prepared for cooler temperatures and rain showers. Around 80% of the annual average 79 inches of rainfall occurs during the rainy season (December through March) when heavy rain may continue for hours or days.

Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

LIMA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN68-790.0
FEB69-800.0
MAR69-800.0
APR67-760.0
MAY63-720.0
JUN61-690.1
JUL60-670.2
AUG60-660.1
SEP60-670.1
OCT60-690.1
NOV62-720.0
DEC64-760.0

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

CUSCO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN44-656.3
FEB44-655.2
MAR43-664.3
APR41-671.8
MAY39-670.3
JUN33-660.1
JUL32-660.2
AUG35-670.3
SEP39-680.9
OCT42-691.9
NOV43-693.1
DEC44-694.7

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

PUNO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN38-625.2
FEB38-624.3
MAR38-623.8
APR33-621.5
MAY25-620.4
JUN19-610.1
JUL18-610.1
AUG22-630.2
SEP29-640.8
OCT33-651.5
NOV35-662.0
DEC37-643.6

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

PUERTO MALDONADO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN71-8813.6
FEB70-8712.8
MAR70-8811.9
APR69-876.1
MAY66-864.2
JUN63-842.3
JUL62-852.2
AUG64-882.5
SEP66-903.9
OCT69-906.5
NOV70-899.3
DEC70-8812.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


 

Maps

Short Inca Trail

Pricing
Per Person
$2,680

Domestic Airfare:
$375 (Lima/Cusco/Lima) – Subject to change

Single Supplement: $660
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.
 

Included in tour cost
  • First aid and oxygen bottle
  • Porters
  • Satellite phone communication
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear

Short Inca Trail

Trip Dates
Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Saturday, November 23, 2019 to Friday, November 29, 2019
Available
Saturday, December 21, 2019 to Friday, December 27, 2019
Available
Saturday, April 18, 2020 to Friday, April 24, 2020
Available
Saturday, May 23, 2020 to Friday, May 29, 2020
Available
Saturday, June 13, 2020 to Friday, June 19, 2020
Available
Saturday, July 4, 2020 to Friday, July 10, 2020
Available
Saturday, August 17, 2019 to Friday, August 21, 2020
Available
Saturday, September 12, 2020 to Friday, September 18, 2020
Available
Saturday, October 17, 2020 to Friday, October 23, 2020
Available
Saturday, November 21, 2020 to Friday, November 27, 2020
Available
Saturday, December 19, 2020 to Friday, December 25, 2020
Available
Aguas Calientes
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Cusco
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Lima
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Sacred Valley
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.

One Day

Multi-Day

machu picchu toursI can't recommend Southern Explorations highly enough, from the great hotels to a totally awesome guide, Jose, who took care of us from the minute we stepped off the plane in Cusco to the time we flew back to Lima. Jose's knowledge of Cusco, the Incas, the sites we visited, history, plants and wildlife was boundless. Also, if you prefer to get off the beaten path and don't like big groups, Southern Explorations is without any shadow of a doubt the way to go ... we were easily the smallest group on the Inca Trail and thankful for it! The timing on the trail was also excellent, we avoided other groups to such an extent that we felt like we had the trail to ourselves 90% of the time. We were taken care of from start to finish and I'd certainly recommend and use Southern Explorations again for future adventures of this kind.   -Julia Relf, California (Inca Trail)


machu picchu tourTHANK YOU for a phenomenal trip! Krissy and I had an amazing time, both in the Amazon, as well as Cusco, Inca Trail. We could not have asked for a better experience. Everything went smoothly, and was extremely organized. We had a fantastic guide for Cusco and Inca Trail - Fernando Silva. THE BEST. We'd recommend you use him as much as you can! So THANK YOU, THANK YOU for making it all happen for us! We will definitely recommend you guys to our friends/family and anyone who asks. We're now thinking about Ecuador and Galapagos possibly for next year! Cannot wait. Cheers! - Nicole Cassani, California (Inca Trail & Amazon)

machu picchu toursThis was an amazing experience and our guide, Jose, made a significant impact on the quality of our trip. Jose was an exceptional guide who was attentive to all people in the group. He was extremely detail-oriented, knowledgeable, caring, thoughtful and went out of his way to ensure all needs were met. Jose went beyond what we expected. - Shelly Zavala, California (Inca Trail)


hiking inca trailI wanted to let you know how much Joe and I enjoyed our Machu Picchu adventure. From the minute we arrived in Lima to the minute we left, the capable crew at Southern Explorations took great care of us. In particular, our guide, Washington, was truly amazing. He was knowledgeable, helpful, and just plain fun to spend time with. But more than that, Washington seemed to generally care about the porters and people we came across on the trail. He was just wonderful! And another person in need of some kudos was our cook, Walter. Each meal was worthy of a nice restaurant--and this while camping in the middle of the Andes. Every meal was a delight. All in all, the trip was really fantastic. Thank you for providing us with a trip that we will always treasure! - Joe and Katherine Houlehan, Kansas (Inca Trail)


machu picchu hikingWe LOVED this trip. We went to Panama last year and SE exceeded all of our expectations. You did it again this year with our trip to Peru. We loved every minute of it. Every single detail was thought out and executed in a professional manner. We would plan another trip with SE in a second. Thank you for all your hard work. We feel grateful to have found such a wonderful and reliable travel company! - Elissa Bowes, New Jersey (Inca Trail & Amazon)


 

machu picchu hiking tourWe can't say enough wonderful things about our guide. He is absolutely amazing and so incredibly knowledgeable. We truly appreciated his ability to explain cultural and historic facts and the pride he has in being Peruvian. I would highly recommend him to my friends. Hacienda Concepcion and Casa Andina (the private collection) far exceeded our expectations. They were lovely! Every meal, whether it be in the jungle or on the trail or in Cusco was OUTSTANDING!!! The jungle excursions were okay, we were hoping to have a bit more exploration activities but the canopy tour was awesome! The trek and the festival were great!!! This was the trip of a lifetime! Both my husband and I were blown away with your organization and quality of everything. Jonathan Borgida put together an outstanding itinerary for us. We are so grateful! - Anne Darga (Inca Trail & Amazon)


I thought this was a great trip! It exceeded my expectations. Machu Picchu was just as amazing in person as I thought it would be. I am so happy we decided to hike the short Inca trail. Although it was a difficult and tiring hike at times it was an amazing experience. The whole trip went very smoothly from the time of booking to the time we got on the plane home. It was nice not having to worry about anything and letting Southern Explorations and their guides handle everything and take care of us. I am definitely planning on looking into taking another trip with Southern Explorations in the future. - Kara Trias, New York (Inca Trail)


Our guide was excellent - his knowledge and sharing of ancient traditions was wonderful. Excellent company- very good value for money- highly recommended. - Philip Jensen (Custom Short Inca Trail)

 
I would like to tell you that we had absolutely a wonderful and flawless trip in Peru from the beginning to the very end. Our guide, in particular, did a superb job in guiding us. He has a professional pride as a guide and his enthusiasm in informing us of the Incan culture came through very strongly. He was very pleasant. - Kazumi Hatasa, Japan (Inca Trail)
The best part of traveling with Southern Explorations was that I always had confidence that if something went wrong, we would be taken care of, and that was an enormous weight off my shoulders. Excellent and helpful service with beautiful hotels and better food than I could ever have dreamed of. - Arbrenne Kelly (Inca Trail & Amazon)

Overall this was a great trip, something I have come to expect from Southern Explorations. Everything from the initial planning to the final execution was arranged with care, professionalism, and much sensitivity to our needs. SE is composed by hard-working idealistic people who put much effort in creating itineraries that combine visits to natural wonders, colonial cities, and archaeological sites. I should add something that cannot be expressed by one’s satisfaction with hotels and transportation and that is the possibility of growth young people can gain in such a trip. I saw how much confidence my youngest son, Alexander, had gained through this trip. And Adrian’s charango (along with the coca leaves we purchased on Chema’s advice) provided much opportunity for us to get to know the other workers better and some of the local residents. Thanks for all for their hard work. - Gregory Jusdanis (Inca Trail)


Southern Explorations really knows what they are doing. They provide a top notch guest experience overall and I would highly recommend them and also consider taking another trip with them.   -Wanda Vermeer (Inca Trail)


The alternative Inca trail was mystical. No roads, no carts, no tourists, no planes overflying, no electric lines.....just remarkably capable, friendly, solicitous and knowledgeable people helping us to enjoy ourselves. This is the first vacation I took where I was not eager to return home. We were enthralled. - Daniel Ehrgood, Pennsyvania (Inca Trail)

It was a real treat to have a guide and driver devoted solely to us. We went at our pace and were able to have much interaction with the guide. Peru is a terrific destination. - Dave Stevenson (Inca Trail)


I cannot say enough about our guide Washington. He was personable and attentive as well as professional and knowledgeable. As a tour manager and tour guide myself for the past 28 years, I can fully appreciate the outstanding job Washington did in sharing his knowledge and passion for his culture and his country with the group. He truly made the trip. - Niki Sepsas, Alabama (Inca Trail)

Peru - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer a wide variety of itineraries suitable for all ages, fitness levels and personal interests. Figuring out the total number of days you are available to travel is a good starting point and your Adventure Travel Coordinator can guide you through the options.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to modify any tour to meet your needs and also add pre and post-excursion extensions. If you sign up for a group departure we cannot change the group portion, but we can add extensions before and after.
Q: When is the best time to go to Peru?
A: Many travelers like to visit Peru between the months of April and October, when the chances of rain are much lower. Avoid the height of summer (June through August) and the Christmas holiday season for smaller crowds and the best selection of accommodations.
Q: What is the weather like in Peru?
A: The most traveled section of Peru, where Cusco and Machu Picchu are located, has a dry season (April – October) and a rainy season (November – March) with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s. Rainfall and temperatures vary in other regions depending on season and elevation. Please see the weather tab on your specific trip for more details.
Q: What is a typical day like in Peru? 
A: A typical day in Peru will vary from tour to tour, but generally you can expect to start your excursions right after breakfast with a full day of scheduled activities or sightseeing. Contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the specifics of your tour.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Peru? 
A: Our trips vary in level of activity, so the requirements differ based on itinerary. It’s important to keep in mind that much of Peru is at or above 8000’ above sea level which can add some difficulty to the activities. Please check our physical ratings for each itinerary to see what may be required of you when assessing your ability to enjoy a trip. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator. We have personal experience with these activities and can help you decide whether a trip is right for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Peru?
A: We offer trips as short as 5 days, but recommend 7 days to adequately explore the Andean highlands (Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu). If you wish to visit more than one region, we recommend travelling for at least 12 days.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: Peru is a popular destination and space at the most desirable hotels fills up quickly. As a rule, the further in advance you can plan, the more options you will have. We recommend planning at least six to nine months in advance throughout the year, and a year ahead of time for anything over the Christmas holiday season.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: Our guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We hire only guides who are native to the destination and are licensed and/or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English, and some also speak indigenous languages. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: We primarily work with 3 and 4-star hotels that meets our standards. We also work with several amazing 5-star properties. All of our hotels are clean, comfortable, well-located, offer en suite bathrooms and have been personally vetted by a Southern Explorations’ staff member.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: We will confirm all airfare within South America and this price will be listed separately from our base tour costs. You are responsible for booking international flights to/from Peru.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: We operate our scheduled group trips with a minimum of two and a maximum of eight guests, except on the Inca Trail trips, which have a maximum of 12 guests. This policy minimizes our environmental impact, allows us to travel to areas less visited, and makes the sightseeing experience more personal. It allows our guides sufficient time to attend to the individual needs of each visitor. Traveling in small groups also increases the likelihood of encountering wildlife in some areas, such as the Amazon. Some all-inclusive lodges and cruises offer excursions with their in-house guides and groups for those days may exceed eight travelers.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary.  This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.