The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the world’s most famous hiking trails. The Inca Trail consists of three overlapping trails: Mollepata, Classic, and One Day. There are more than 150 licensed Inca Trail tour operators that will take visitors on this trek. Some visitors will take a bus or train directly to Machu Picchu and some will want to hike on their own. Whether you are on your own or hiking with a tour operator, the recommendation is to get your trail permit or tour reservation early.
It is crucial to understand the significance of making advanced reservations for the renowned Inca Trail. Each day, only 500 permits are issued, with the majority allocated to guides, porters, and trekking staff, leaving around 200 for tourists. Clearly, the availability is extremely limited.
While there are alternative treks that offer last-minute options to reach Machu Picchu, being on the classic Inca Trail, whether for a two-day, four day, or longer journey, necessitates booking well in advance. If you arrive in Cusco with the hope of securing a spot on the trail without reservation, chances are high that you will be greatly disappointed.
Inca Trail Reservations
To secure your spot on the Inca Trail, it’s best to make reservations well in advance. For the peak season (June, July, and August), it’s advisable to book about six months ahead, as permits can sell out four or five months prior.
Even the months surrounding the high season can fill up quickly. If you plan to hike in April, May, September, October, or November, aim to book at least three or four months in advance.
During quieter periods like December, January, and early March, you may be able to secure a spot with just three to five weeks’ notice. However, it’s worth noting that the Holy Week and Easter period (which varies each year) is also popular for Inca Trail hikes. Keep in mind that the Inca Trail closes for keeping in February, while Machu Picchu remains open.
According to SAM Travel Peru, a recommended tour operator, Inca Trail permits tend to sell out earlier each year. Therefore, booking six months ahead, regardless of the season, is the best way to avoid disappointment.
Making the Inca Trail Reservation
To check permit availability and book a tour for the Inca Trail, visit the official government site or consult Inca Trail, tour operators. When booking with a tour agency, they will inform you if they have permits, usually included in the tour price.
Keep in mind that if no permits are available for your desired date, there is no waiting list. Tour agencies typically require a non-refundable deposit when making a reservation.
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