Inca Trail Permits & Availability
The availability of Inca Trail permits can vary depending on the time of year and the demand for the permits. However, there are a limited number of permits available each day, and they tend to sell out quickly, especially during the high season from April to September.
The Ministry of Culture of Peru issues permits for the Inca Trail six months in advance, and they release them in batches throughout the year. The exact dates for when the permits become available can vary, but generally, the permits for the high season (May to September) are released in October (a year early),
It’s important to note that the number of permits available is limited to 500 per day, which includes all hikers, guides, and porters. This means that once the permits for a specific date are sold out, there are no more permits available for that day – No one has it at all.
If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail, it’s recommended to book your permit as soon as possible, ideally six months in advance, to ensure availability. It’s also important to book with a licensed tour operator who can help you secure your permit and guide you through the process.
Some frequently asked questions about the Inca Trail
- What is the Inca Trail?. The Inca Trail is a 42-kilometer hiking route that takes visitors through stunning mountainous landscapes and ancient archaeological sites to the citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco – Peru.
- Do I need a permit to hike the Inca Trail?. Yes, a special permit is required to hike the Inca Trail, which is regulated by the Ministry of Culture of Peru. Only 500 permits are issued per day, and they sell out quickly, so it’s recommended to purchase them as early as possible (at least 6 months in advance).
- How long is the Inca Trail? . The classic Inca Trail is a 4-day, 3-night hike that covers a distance of 42 kilometers. However, there are also shorter 2-day and longer 7-day options available.
- How difficult is the Inca Trail?. The Inca Trail is a challenging hike that requires a good physical condition. The trail reaches a maximum altitude of 4,215 meters, and the hike involves steep climbs and descents, as well as varying weather conditions.
- Do I need a guide to hike the Inca Trail?. Yes, all hikers must hire an authorized tour guide to hike the Inca Trail. Additionally, a team of porters is required to carry camping equipment and food.
- When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?. The best time to hike the Inca Trail is during the dry season from April to September, when there is less rain and the weather is milder. However, this is also the busiest time of year, and the permits tend to sell out quickly.
- What should I pack for the Inca Trail? It’s recommended to pack warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a headlamp. It’s also important to bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as any necessary medication.
- Is the Inca Trail permit refundable? The Inca trail permits are non-refundable and non-transferable to another person because the Ministry of culture does not give back the travel companies any money when clients change dates or cancel. The agency must purchase a new permit if a client changes dates. If any travel company tells you that the permit is refundable, they are for sure not telling the truth and they are not Inca Trail operators. It is as simple as if a traveler cancels their space is not given to anyone else.
What can I do if Inca Trail permits are already sold out for my desired date?
If Inca Trail permits are already sold out for your desired date, there are still other options available to explore the region and the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Here are a few alternatives:
- Alternative treks: There are several alternative treks to Machu Picchu, including the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, and Choquequirao Trek, which offer stunning scenery and unique cultural experiences.
- Train and bus: You can still visit Machu Picchu by taking the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and then taking a bus to the ruins.
- Visit other ruins: Peru is home to many other impressive archaeological sites, such as the ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, which can be visited as day trips from Cusco.
- Consider a different time of year: If your desired date falls during the high season, it may be worth considering a different time of year when there is less demand for permits.
It’s important to note that some of these options, such as alternative treks and visiting other ruins, may also require permits, so be sure to check with authorized tour operators for availability and required permits.
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Sam Travel Peru. is an official operator of the Inca Trail based in the city of Cusco with excellent 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor, even rated as #1 Inca Trail operator. They can help you organize your trip to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, offering a variety of tourist and trekking packages that adapt to your preferences and budget. With your expert guides and comfortable camping gear, you can enjoy a safe and unforgettable experience on the Inca Trail.