Over the last decades, Peru has become a most popular travel destination. There are many great treks throughout Peru, but the Inca Trail is the most known. During the peak season of 2000, many campsites were crowded and the trail got polluted with rubbish. In early 2001, Peruvian government proposed to reduce number of trekkers on the trail to 500 per day. This figure roughly comprises 200 tourists and 300 trekking staff (Tour Guides, Cooks and Porters). In 2002 and 2003, the government tried to enforce the 500-person limit; however, they came under pressure of local operators and allowed an extra 200 persons during the busy months of July and August after all. The figure of 200 tourists includes trekkers of 2-day and 4-day Inca Trails as well as 7 day Salkantay Trek. We estimate that about 160 trekkers per day start the 4-day trek, 25 the 2-day trek and 15 the Salkantay Trek. During 2003 and 2004, Peruvian government introduced a series of changes of the Inca Trail in a bid to protect its fragile eco-structure from over-use. Most of these changes have been focused on reducing the number of trekkers on the trail, improving quality of tour operators and offering a reservation system where trekkers have to do their reservations many weeks (or even months) in advance. The changes came into force as regulations in 2005. Further regulations focused on porter welfare improvement have been introduced in the early 2006. An important regulation (among others) is that each trekking company operating the Inca Trail has to possess an operating licence which is issued (or renewed) every year in March.
There are 500 permits each day, from which approximately 200 are allocated to tourists and 300 to local staff such as Tour Guides, Porters and Cooks. Peruvian government is in charge of Inca Trail permit allocation. Click on the following Peruvian government link to check how many Inca Trail permits are still available You can choose your month when you like to do the trek. If the number of remaining permits is 0 (zero), it means all permits are sold out and you must choose another date. If all permits are sold out for a particular date, it means that NO travel agency is able to offer you a space!!! Travel agencies CANNOT purchase a block of permits in advance and sell them on a later date. There is NO “waiting list” either!! An Inca Trail permit can be only purchased against a specific name and passport number!! These details cannot be changed after the permit has been granted!!
It is very important to book this trek a good time in advance!!! As there are only 500 permits (Tour Guides, Porters and Cooks including) issued per day for the Inca Trail!!
A general recommendation on how long time in advance to book is:
Each February, the Inca Trail is closed to allow its conservation as well as to give vegetation a chance to recover. This is a suitable month to close it since it is the wettest month of the year too. However, Machu Picchu itself remains open during the month so you can visit it!