Inca Trail Permits : How They Work – Everything You Need to KnowIn

Written by: Sam Travel | 25 June, 2024
InInca Trail Permits : How They Work – Everything You Need to KnowIn

In years gone by it was a lot easier to trek the Inca Trail. One could obtain permission easily and could trek with or without a guide. But these days things are very different, the Peruvian government has enforced strict rules to prevent overcrowding, over use and have done this is to ensure the future of the sacred Inca Pathways.

Today there are a controlled number of daily hiking permits, making it essential to book your Inca Trail in advance, sometimes up to 6 months, for the high season which runs from May through August.

Why the Permit System?

Due to the popularity the number of people who trekked to Machu Picchu increased immensely. After Machu Picchu was declared a world heritage site in the 1980s, the year hiking average increased from 6000 in 1984 to 82000 in 2000. This increased traffic caused erosion and garbage creating a threat to the pristine ruin and the ecology of the surrounding Andes.

Studies performed caused alarms as if continued as it was the site was in danger of collapse. In 2000 the government of Peru, out of fear, decided to limit the number of daily trekkers on the Inca Trail to 500 people. This includes trekkers, guides, porter and cooking staff.

The Permit Dates

The permits are available everyday of the year from 1 January to the 31 January and from the 1 March to the 31 December. The month of February the trail is closed every year for maintenance.

The Regulations

  • Only 500 total permits are available per day for trekking.
  • This limit includes 300 permits total for guides, porters, and other staff, and 200 permits for all customer trekkers
  • You can only hike the Inca Trail with a licensed tour operator
  • Entry points and camping spots were pre-determined on your permit and at ranger-protected checkpoints.
  • Permits are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Dates and names cannot be moved.
  • All Inca Trail Permit regulations are controlled by the Peruvian government, not by individual trekking companies.
  • Note that the Inca Trail is closed every February for trail maintenance. This is often the rainiest month of the season.

How do you get a Permit?

Due to popular demand the permits for the Inca Trail sell out months in advance and seem to sell out more quickly every year. Only licensed Inca Trail Operators like SAM Travel Peru can obtain these permits for the Government of Peru. The limit is followed strictly and the number of people allowed on the trail includes trekkers, porters and guides. To get your preferred day you should start your booking process at least 3 to 6 months in advance, especially if you want to travel in the high season. If you wish to trek in the months of March, April, September, October, November, December or January you may find permits easier to come by, but remember that November, December and January are considered to be the rainy season.

It is important to note that all permits will need to be booked with a passport, if by chance your passport will expire soon, book the permit with the old passport and when you receive your new passport, we can make the change. But remember to bring both passports with you to Peru.

Also remember you must have 6 months validity on your passport to enter Peru.

For what treks do you need a Permit?

  • The Classic Inca Trail 4 Days / 3 Nights, Group and Private
  • The Short Inca Trail 2 Days / 1 Night, Group and Private
  • Salkantay Trek and Inca Trail Treks 7 Days, Group and Private
  • Lares and Short Inca Trail 5 Days/4 Nights, Group and Private

What to do if you can’t get a Permit?

As the Inca Trail is very popular and there is a limit to the number of people that can trek per day, we always recommend that you have at least 2 alternative dates to choose. If this is not possible, there are many other options that are as equally beautiful.

Some of the Alternative Treks that you may enjoy.

All these treks have natural lush and historic beauty and some even follow the ancient Inca paths. Most don’t require a permit as you will not be hiking the classic Inca Trail. Also, something to remember is that these treks are void of the maddening crowds.

The Peruvian government releases permits on a rolling basis, typically in the October prior to the year you want to trek (for example, permits for 2025 will be released in October of 2024). Mark it on your calendar, and prioritize booking your trip in the summer or early fall, a full year before your trip. This will help you all but guarantee you can get a permit for the dates you want.

What agency do I choose for my Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu?

This is one of the most important decisions that you will take when choosing your Inca Trail. Do your research and choose an agency with a license to operate the Inca Trail. SAM Travel Peru is such an agency. SAM Travel Peru is an innovative adventure trekking company that offers unparalleled on the Inca Trail. We have the highest quality service, an outstanding reputation because we can guarantee the best quality service through our SAM Travel Peru staff and guides to strictly operate our treks.

Remember that the if you want to trek the Inca Trail you will need to book in advance, if you want to go in the high season, 6 months in advance is recommended. The spectacular Inca Trail will include some of the most prodigious scenery you will ever experience. This challenging trek is something that will live in your heart and your memory for a life time.

Inca Trail Availability with SAM Travel Peru

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Bernie s 2023/03/02

Had a great trip with our guide Ray Herrera and driver Alfredo. Lots of good experiences in a short period of time 4 days. Learnt a lot not just about the main tourist destinations but Peru in general by Ray. Ray has a passion for Inca history and local produce. Ray knows all the good photo spots and we managed the sun out every day .. Good culture and if you want to get on a tour ask for Ray at Sams Travel = amazing

Tanya H 2023/03/02

Ray was our Tour Guide and Alfredo was our driver for a 4 day tour we did with SAM Travel Peru. Ray's knowledge of the history of Cusco and Machu Picchu was outstanding. Ray was very accommodating with all our needs. He stayed alongside us when trekking and helped where he could. His sense of humour was pleasant to be around. Ray spoke very good English. He is such a nice guy. I would strongly recommend Ray to be your tour guide to visit Machu Picchu. Ray explained everyday what the plans were for the next day, which was reassuring what we needed to take etc

Captanjack 2023/01/012

Our 1 day tour thru the Sacred Vally with Danny was wonderful. He was very knowledgeable and able to answer all our questions in detail. I would recommend asking for him personally if you are able.

Sherry 2022/12/26

We booked the Classic Cusco to Machu Picchu tour with SAM travel which we really had a good experience. SAM travel is very responsive during the communication and cater to our changes needed. Our guide is Ray who is also an very awesome guide. He is knowledgeable, patient, humorous as well reliable, he help us take many good photos and also go extra mile to help with our request. Thanks Ray! Thanks SAM travel that gave us good memories in Peru! Highly recommend if you consider booking any tour in Cusco.

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C Clark 2023/01/20

Wow. We had such an incredible experience in Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Our guide, Dayvit, is the most knowledgeable guide we have ever had. He has such an extensive knowledge of the history and is very friendly and helpful. If you are planning a trip to Peru, I highly recommend SAM travel and be sure to request Dayvit!

Emma Dinzebach Clark 2023/01/10

2 day tour sacred valley / Machu Picchu highly recommend! David was the best tour guide. He knows an incredible amount about Incan culture and is personable and funny. He also kept us up to date on a political situation happening when we were there and was informative. Overall, this tour checks all the boxes. Thank you!

Nupur Joshi 2023/01/02

We used SAM Travel for a 2D/1N trip from Cusco to Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on Dec 25-26, 2022. The team was good with communication from the start - both Saul and Junior were very helpful and professional with answering any questions and clearing up any misunderstandings. Our guide, Miguel, was prompt, pleasant, and quite knowledgeable. We enjoyed his company and insight over the 2 day trip and recommend him to anyone booking with SAM Travel.

Xueying Chen 2022/12/20

We booked the Classic Cusco to Machu Picchu tour with SAM travel which we really had a good experience. SAM travel is very responsive during the communication and cater to our changes needed. Our guide is Ray who is also an very awesome guide. He is knowledgeable, patient, humorous as well reliable, he help us take many good photos and also go extra mile to help with our request. Thanks Ray! Thanks SAM travel that gave us good memories in Peru! Highly recommend if you consider booking any tour in Cusco.

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Cheri Buccino April 21, 2024
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Powerful! This journey tests your humanity and leaves you in awe of yourself and the beauty that Pachamama provides. April 2024 We conquered the Inca trail and it was only made possible with the help and guidance from our expert guides Jean Pierre (JP) and Jimmy. The knowledge these gentlemen shared was admired by all of our group and the envy of other trail hikers who stopped to listen. The hike has many layers of challenges including language barriers, altitude sensitivities and food specifications. The team at Sam travel exceeded the needs and went above to ensure our comforts were met. A special mention must be made to Mario, the Chef who somehow performed magic with nutritious flavourful meals to satisfy even the pickiest consumers and Francesco who was our lead porter who orchestrated the harmony that happened behind the scenes to get everything done. Nothing less than marvellous from this team. Thank you to each of the group who made our trek a remarkable experience.

Bhavana Lalwani April 18, 2024
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Jose and Henry were great guides for our first time exploring machu pichu! They were very attentive and kept everything on a smooth schedule. Highly recommend!

Ryan April 9, 2024
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The whole experience was amazing. Ray, our guide answered all of our questions and definitely had our best interest in mind the whole time. Timothy the cook made fantastic food and somehow found a way to prepare a birthday cake with no notice! Boni our head porter and his whole crew were kind, accommodating, and had such upbeat attitudes which really made the experience great!

Isabel Batteria April 17, 2024
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I spent two days with Sam Travel’s guide Raymier, who guided us through the one-day 12-km stretch of the Inca trail and then took us to Machu Picchu the next day. In my group, I was always the last one on the trail because I come from the coast and I’m not used to altitudes, and honestly I could also have prepared physically a little better. Raymier respected my pace, never rushed me, and supported me throughout the ardous trail. He had much knowledge to share. I speak Spanish, but ended up in an English tour, and Ray’s English was very good. He was funny, respectful, and versatile. He knew where to take all the best photos and patiently took photos of all of us. I would trust Sam Travel again especially if I was lucky enough to have Ray as a guide again.

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