Why you need a permit to hike the Inca Trail (and how to get one!)

written by Jenna Hoare July 24, 2018
person hiking the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is part of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a protected area managed by the Peru National Institute of Natural Resources – put simply, every person who hikes the trail needs a permit – for good reason.

Before 2002, there were no regulations safekeeping the Inca Trail. This meant that as many as 1500 people a day were attempting to clamber along and camp on top of each other (creating a build-up of people and you can imagine the toilet situation). This is when the Peruvian government decided to step in and make a few changes for the future protection of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.


These days, the number of people permitted to start the trail per day is strictly limited to 500 – this is made up of roughly 200 tourists and 300 porters. There’s also a limit to the number of visitors allowed to enter the site of Machu Picchu – capped at 2500 people per day. With limited availability on the Inca Trail, it helps to start planning your trip well in advance to ensure you can obtain a permit in time to get a space on the trek.

How to book a permit for the Inca Trail

A group on the Inca Trail.

A group on the Inca Trail. Image by Martin Ruffo.

We make it easy and take care of obtaining your Inca Trail permit once you’ve booked your trip. During peak periods of the hiking season (June, July and August) try to book three to four months in advance – after all, this is a trip worth planning for. Upon arriving in Peru, your tour leader will have the Inca Trail pass waiting for you.


Have you tried to book and found there are no permits left?

A group hikes the Quarry Trail

A group hikes the Quarry Trail. Image by Ciara Johnson.

Don’t worry. Your dream of hiking the Andes can still happen. The lesser-known Quarry Trail is gaining recognition for its archaeological sites and cultural experiences off the beaten path. The beauty of this option is that no permit is needed – making that last-minute decision to go still worthwhile.

Decided hiking isn’t for you and would rather catch the train?

The train to Machu Picchu.

The train to Machu Picchu. Image by Heather Kelly.

So, you’ve done some research and realised that hiking in Peru is by no means a walk in the park. That’s okay. You can still visit Machu Picchu and take the train option.

Ready to go see Machu Picchu? Intrepid’s got you covered with their small group adventures.

Hero image by shipfactory via Shutterstock.

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