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Machu Pichhu

Inca Trail Permits

About the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the most iconic pilgrimage routes in the world. Offering an unrivalled combination of history and dramatic scenery, the ancient Inca Trail winds its way from the flowing Urubamba River rapids, across mountain passes and through the mysterious cloud forests where the Peruvian Andes meets the tropical Amazon rainforest, passing by several crumbling fortress ruins before reaching the spectacular ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. 

Left abandoned for centuries after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th Century, only to be discovered by American historian, Hiram Bingham in 1911, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu only opened to the public from 1970 and quickly became a major attraction on everyone’s bucket list.

In 2002, the Peruvian Government announced that anyone wanting to trek to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu using the classic Inca Trail would need to obtain a trekking permit in an effort to control numbers and help preserve the ancient route and surrounding wildlife. Every day of the year, there are 500 trekking permits available – 200 of which can be sold to tourists, and 300 of which are needed for the porters and guides who make the exhilarating four-day camping trek in the Peruvian Andes possible.  

Llamas on the Inca Trail

How can I get an Inca Trail Permit?

Due to the limited supply of Inca Trail permits, they’re incredibly sought after and usually sell out very quickly. Individuals wishing to obtain an Inca Trail permit can only do so via approved tour operators like Exodus Travels. It is not possible to trek the route independently or part of your own group – you must trek with a guide and porters from an approved tour operator.

Who can purchase a permit?

Permits can only be purchased on behalf of an individual named trekker – sadly, no tour operator can pre-pay for Inca Trail permits on the dates that their treks are scheduled. As such, we recommend booking at least 6-8 months in advance so that we can apply for your permit as soon as it is on sale, as permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

How much does the permit cost?

The cost of your trekking permit is included in our Exodus Travels Inca Trail holidays and once you book with us, we will take care of acquiring the permit for you. The general advice is to book a space onto your chosen departure as far in advance as possible. Permits for the whole year are released over a period of a couple of weeks in October, with different months going on sale on different days, so your best chance of securing your chosen departure date is to have your space on the tour booked with Exodus by then.

Woman looking over the Inca Trail

What do I need to book the permit?

To book this once in a lifetime trip, we need your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality to purchase your Inca Trail permit. You must ensure this information is exactly the same as the passport you will be using to travel to Peru. If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.

What if they’re already sold out?

If Inca Trail permits have already sold out for the departure you’re looking at, our website will specify what other dates are available to you so you can book your departure and we can look into securing your Inca Trail permit. However, if you are keen on going on that date in particular, there are several options if permits have sold out which mean you can still join your chosen tour;

1)      You can consider doing the Moonstone Trek instead, an alternative route that can be booked in place of the classic four-day Inca Trail (you would then continue with the rest of the tour as normal). The Moonstone Trek is a little tougher than the standard Inca Trail as it reaches a higher altitude, but the scenery is fantastic and it’s a much more remote and quiet alternative off the tourist trail. We grade this as Level 4 (Moderate/Challenging). 

2)      You can consider joining the One Day Inca Trail. We offer a separate package for those who aren’t sure if they want to walk the whole four-day route, which combines the last day of the Classic Inca Trail walk, doesn’t involve any camping on the trail, and still visits Machu Picchu (making use of the train). During the remainder of the 4 days, we have scheduled some exciting cultural activities and culinary experiences around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. More details can be found here.   

inca trail trek

What is the best season for trekking the Inca Trail?

Peru’s high season falls into the months of April to October when the weather is much drier. The month of May has always sold out the fastest for the Inca Trail, so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment! In general, the months of June to August are the most popular months to hike the trail, with permits almost always being completely sold out during this time. Shoulder season months like March and October, are normally a little quieter on the trail and with generally fine weather. The Inca Trail is closed during February for maintenance. 

Also, here are some more details from our trip notes:

Inca Trail Regulations

There are a number of important regulations regarding the Inca Trail that we would like to make you aware of:

  1. Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first-come, first-served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible. 
  2. If you cancel your booking more than 8 weeks before departure and wish to transfer your deposit to another departure or another trip the transfer fee is £150 as we will lose the permit, we have purchased on your behalf. This is an amendment to our Booking Conditions. No transfers are possible within 8 weeks of departure. 
  3. Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities. 
  4. Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify Exodus immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to Exodus in advance of travel and pay an administration fee of £25. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking and keep it somewhere safe.
  5. Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and Exodus is not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
  6. There is a possibility that the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.

Please Note: Whilst your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If travelling within the current year we will try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. In either case, in the event that we are unable to get your permit, we will contact you to discuss your options.