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Classic Inca trail vs Short Inca Trail

  • The Classic Inca Trail, in contrast, is longer and more challenging, scoring a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. It requires better physical condition and a more complete acclimatization.
  • The Short Inca Trail is characterized by its shorter duration and lower altitude. On the same scale, it is rated 2.5, which places it at a level between “Light to moderate“, suitable for people with less hiking experience or limited acclimatization time.
  • The Short Inca Trail offers a more accessible experience in terms of distance and altitude, while the Classic is a more rigorous trek.
  • The choice between the two depends on the physical condition, hiking experience and preferences of each hiker. Both trails offer spectacular views and access to the wonders of Machu Picchu.
  Classic Inca Trail Short Inca Trail
Duration 4 days and 3 nights 2 days and 1 night
Distances 43 KM 10 KM
Difficulty Challenging Slight to Moderate
Minimum height 2, 720 meters/ 8924 feet 2, 200 meters/7, 218 feet
Maximum height 4,200 meters/13,779 feet 2,730 meters/8,957 feet
Attractions to be visited •        Piscacucho

•        Patallacta

•        Wayllabamba Archaeological Site

•        Runncuraka Archaeological Site

•        Ruins of Sayaqmarca

•        Archaeological center of Wiñaywayna

•        Sun Gate or Inti Punku

•       Machu Picchu

•        Chachabamba

•        Archaeological center of Wiñaywayna

•        Sun Gate or Inti Punku

•       Machu Picchu

The highest point on the Classic Inca Trail is the Paso de la Mujer Muerta, while on the Short Inca Trail, the Inti Punku, which serves as the entrance to Machu Picchu, stands out.


To make sure you are prepared and enjoy your adventure on the 2-day Short Inca Trail to the fullest, it is essential to pack the right equipment. Unlike the 4-day trek, on this short version you will spend the night in Aguas Calientes, so you will not need camping equipment. Below is a list of items to include in your luggage:


  • Original passport (in physical format)
  • ISIC card (students)
  • Extra money (soles)
  • Water bottle
  • Personal medication
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Mosquito repellent


  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • T-shirt
  • Trekking boots
  • Lightweight shoes
  • Trekking socks
  • Trekking pants
  • Rain poncho


  • Trekking poles (you can rent them with us)
  • Small trekking backpack

Carrying a small backpack will allow you to enjoy the experience more without carrying a heavy and bulky backpack.


  • Camera
  • Bathing suit (if you wish to visit the hot springs).
  • Sandals
  • Small towel.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Snacks

A small towel allows you to wipe sweat, dust and moisture from your skin, which helps prevent irritation and discomfort.

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