Machu Picchu has been at the top of my list of dream destinations for years. When last fall the opportunity for me finally to visit it, the four-day hike on the Inca Trail 2 days was not for me unfortunately. However, I did not want to miss that and opted to leave the morning train from Cusco to Machu Picchu at km 104 and make the spectacular 15km day hike the lost city of the Incas. So, if you are torn between a four-day hike and a one-hike train ride, I have five good reasons for 1 day hike to Machu Picchu.
1.You have little time
You’re like me: you only have a few days in Peru, but you really want to experience the Sacred Valley with the short Inca trail 2 days. If you make the one-day hike, you will have enough time for Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, but you can still take the path of the ancient Incas to Machu Picchu without having to extend your stay.
2.Trekking is new territory for you -short Inca Trail 2 days
If you’ve never done a longer mountain hike before, four days of hiking and staying in a tent in the mountains can sound a bit intimidating. As you make the one-day hike on the Inca Trail 2 days, you will be able to gain your first trekking experience on one of the most famous trails in the world and still have the satisfying feeling of having your first glimpse of Machu Picchu after the adventurous ascent to the Sun Gate. Depending on your fitness, you’ll find the trek mild to moderate, with just enough in-steps to make you sweat and be grateful for the resting places along the route.
3.You want to see more landscapes
Machu Picchu is breathtaking, but it’s not the only reason why tens of thousands of adventurous travelers follow in the footsteps of the Incas: the Sacred Valley has much more to offer than what you would never see from the window of a train or bus. We visited the former religious site of Chachabamba (which is not normally visited during the four-day hike) and hiked in the morning over the Urubamba River valley in the Andes. After lunch at a spectacular waterfall and a visit to the terraced fields of Winay Wayna, we descended into the humid cloud forest and found the end of the rainbow mountain at Inti Punku, the sun gate, in the late afternoon. All of this escapes you if you travel the whole distance by train.
4.You want more time in Machu Picchu
Day hikers arrive in Machu Picchu in the afternoon, when most of the crowds have already disappeared. On the descent to Machu Picchu, from where you can take the bus back to Aguas Calientes, you will have time for first photos and the next morning you will be well rested and freshly showered and you can either do a two-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu or the ruins explore on your own.
5.You are on a secret photo mission
The weather in the Andes is unpredictable – within minutes it can get cloudy or raining and the beautiful photo motif literally falls into the water. If you’ve always dreamed of taking a perfect snapshot of Machu Picchu, this hike can help. Although there is no guarantee that Pachamama (the Inca mother of Earth and time) will provide bright sunshine, you have at least two ways to experience the famed site at its best. Just as I arrived at the destination of the hike in the afternoon, the rain clouds cleared and the sun shone on a deserted Machu Picchu, as the crowds had already warped in the face of approaching curfew. The next morning, rain showers went down for half an hour,