Do I need a permit to hike to Machu Picchu?

The short answer is maybe – depending on the trail you do. Given how ancient (and popular!) this UNESCO World Heritage site is, everyone hiking to Machu Picchu via the iconic Inca Trail or the shorter Inca Trail Express requires a permit.

Permits were introduced by the Peruvian authorities in 2002 to help preserve the trail and the historical sites along its path. Permits are limited to 500 per day, which includes 200 tourists and 300 porters, cooks and guides.

If you do the Inca Trail with Intrepid, our adventure consultants secure your permit for you so you can focus on getting excited – just make sure you have your passport details handy at the time of booking.

Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so booking well in advance is imperative. We endeavour to purchase your permit within two working days of receiving all necessary information.

Previously, you could buy a permit directly from the Peruvian authorities' website, but they introduced another scheme whereby all Inca Trail trekkers must go with a licensed guide. That means the only way to tick the Inca Trail off your bucket list is by booking a guided trek with a registered operator.

It's also worth noting that Inca Trail permits are non-refundable, non-changeable and non-transferable. Every permit must be linked to a specific passport, so if you're getting married and plan to change your name, or you're due to renew your passport before your trip, make sure you factor this into your plans.

Which Machu Picchu trails don't require a permit?

Unlike the Inca Trail, you don't need a permit if you're trekking via the Quarry or Choquequirao trails. Sure, these trails aren't as popular (yet!), but the scenery is just as spectacular. You'll also escape the crowds and discover some of the lesser-known Inca sites in Sacred Valley.

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