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Capturing the Majesty of Machu Picchu: My Inca Trail Express Trek

If you’re seeking an incredible adventure with a little less time commitment than the classic 4-day Inca Trail trek but still want to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Machu Picchu and the Andean Mountains, the Inca Trail Express Trek is the perfect choice. Join me on this thrilling 2-day journey as I take you through the highlights of this incredible experience.

Day 1: Cuzco to Aguas Calientes, Peru

inca trail express trek crowd

The adventure begins early, with an accommodation pick-up at 3:45-4:00 am. Anticipation and excitement fill the air as we set off on our journey from Cuzco to the Ollantaytambo train station, the starting point of our trek. The train ride itself offers stunning vistas of the Peruvian countryside, a tantalizing taste of what’s to come.

Our destination for today is KM 104, where we’ll embark on a 4-hour hike uphill, following the original stone staircases of the Inca Trail. The trek leads us to the remarkable archaeological site of Wiñayhuayna, nestled at an altitude of 2,700 meters. Here, our professional guide enlightens us about the rich culture and history of the site, deepening our appreciation for the ancient Inca civilization.

After this enlightening visit, we get to indulge in a well-deserved lunch, recharging for the adventure ahead. Then, we continue our journey through the breathtaking Andean landscape, each step bringing us closer to the final destination.

In the afternoon, our path takes us to the Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate. This moment is when the true magic begins. As you stand at the Sun Gate, you are greeted with the first glimpses of the majestic Machu Picchu citadel. The view is nothing short of awe-inspiring, a sight that will be etched into your memory forever. This is the moment you realize that every positive travel review about this place was the truth.

As the sun starts its descent, we descend too, taking a tourist-class bus to Aguas Calientes, often referred to as Machu Picchu town, where we will spend the night. Resting in the shadow of the Andes, this charming town has its own unique appeal and serves as the perfect base for our grand adventure.

Day 2: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and Return to Cuzco

aguas clientes river - peru

Day 2 promises to be the climax of our journey as we explore the breathtaking Machu Picchu. Early in the morning, we embark on a tourist-class bus that takes us back to the enchanting citadel. The early morning light reveals the site in all its glory, and it’s a sight to behold.

Our guided tour is led by a professional bilingual guide who delves into the history and culture of Machu Picchu, making the ancient stones come to life with stories and insights. It’s a two-hour immersion into the world of the Inca civilization, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

After the guided tour, you have the freedom to explore at your own pace. This is your opportunity to capture the magical vibes of this mountain-top citadel with your camera. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or just a casual snapper, Machu Picchu provides endless opportunities to capture its beauty.

For the adventurous spirits among us, there’s the option to hike Huayna Picchu. This steep peak, located within the Machu Picchu site, offers unparalleled views of the citadel from a unique perspective. The hike can be challenging, but the views are more than worth the effort. Keep in mind that obtaining a ticket for Huayna Picchu requires advance planning, so make sure to secure your spot well in advance. There are only 400 passes available each day, with 200 allocated for the 7:00 am slot and the remaining 200 for 10:00 am.

For trekkers arriving from the Inca Trail, the 10:00 am slot is the one to aim for. Most trekkers may be fatigued after their earlier trek, but for true adventurers, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. Make sure to request the extra ticket directly to ensure you don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience.

After an incredible day exploring Machu Picchu and capturing its essence through your lens, it’s time to return to Aguas Calientes by bus. Here, you’ll find charming internet cafes, cafes with board games, an array of shops, and places to relax. Don’t forget to visit the local marketplace near the train tracks, where you can shop for souvenirs to commemorate your unforgettable journey.

Finally, it’s time to bid farewell to Aguas Calientes as you take the bus back to Cuzco, arriving late in the day at the Plaza San Francisco. From there, you can make your own way to the accommodation of your choice, with your heart and memory card full of unforgettable moments.

Final Word

The Inca Trail Express Trek to Machu Picchu by Bamba Travel is an adventure that promises memories to last a lifetime. From the early morning start in Cuzco to the breathtaking moments at the Sun Gate, from the guided tour of Machu Picchu to the optional hike up Huayna Picchu, this journey is a photographer’s dream.

As I reflect on my own experience, I can’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to witness the splendor of Machu Picchu and the Andean Mountains. The Inca Trail Express Trek strikes the perfect balance between adventure and cultural enrichment, making it an ideal choice for those seeking to explore this ancient wonder in a more compact time frame.

So, whether you’re an avid hiker, a history enthusiast, or a photography buff, the Inca Trail Express Trek is a journey you won’t want to miss. The views, the history, and the sheer magnificence of Machu Picchu will stay with you forever, and the memories you capture through your camera lens will serve as a lasting reminder of this remarkable adventure in the heart of Peru.

Check out the Inca Express Trek from Bamba Travel.

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Guest post written by Harry Trupal

Harry Trupal is a rugged and adventurous photographer with a passion for exploration.