The most popular of Peru treks also has limited availability and it is important to book an Inca Trail permit in the earliest stages of planning your trip. The following Inca Trail permits, reservations and availability information should help you prepare.
Inca Trail Permits
Peru’s Ministry of Culture, which administers sites of archaeological importance such as the Inca Trail, caps the total number of permits for the trail at 500 per day. Everyone who enters the Inca Trail – trekker, guide, or porter – must have one of these 500 permits. The limit also applies to any part of the Inca Trail, be it the Classic 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the shorter 2-day Inca Trail trek, or the 7-day Inca Trail hike that joins up from Salktantay to meet the classic trail.
Of the 500 available permits, only approximately 200 go to trekkers. The remaining permits go to support staff, including guides, cooks, and porters. This again is in compliance with Inca Trail regulations, which seek to limit the size of trekking groups and ease the loads of porters who carry all the trekking/camping equipment for multi-day hikes.
Permits are available for every day of the year, excepting the entire month of February, during which the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance and repairs. In the Andes, February also happens to be the rainiest month of the rainy season, and the closure of the trail spares trekkers from walking and camping in wet, muddy, and slippery conditions.
Only licensed tour operators may purchase permits. At the time of purchase, tour operators must have the full name and passport information of trekkers. Inca Trail permits are not transferrable or refundable, nor can the start date be changed after purchase. For the same reason, there is no waiting list. Once they are sold, Inca Trail permits may not return to the market, even in the case of cancellation.
At any entrance to the Inca Trail, all trekkers must present a passport to check against the information on the permit. Note that if your passport information changes between the time of purchase and the start date, the tour operator may be able to update the information with a minimum of 10-days advance notice. If the information is not corrected, trekkers must pay a $12 fee at the time of entrance to the Inca Trail, a process which may result in delays.
Inca Trail Availability
Permits for the high season months of June, July, and August sell out quickly. If you’re planning your trip to Peru and an Inca Trail hike for the high season, it is important to book 4 months in advance in order to secure your exact dates.
In the shoulder season months of April, May, and September, it is necessary to book 2 to 3 months in advance. For other dates (March; October through January), 6 to 8 weeks should be a sufficient window, but allow a wider margin if your Peru travel dates are set in stone.
When to make Inca Trail reservations
In the unusual case of last minute bookings, the Inca Trail Office requires all reservation information at least 4 days in advance.
There are 2 seasons in the Andes: rainy and dry. The dry season extends from May to October. Rain is unusual, especially in July and August.
Days are quite warm, but night temperatures plummet to around freezing. The rainy season begins in November and continues through March and April. It is impossible to predict daily weather patterns, but trekkers can expect rain at some point in the day.
Rain events range from short torrential bursts to drizzle that lasts for hours.
Cloud cover results in slightly warmer temperatures at night. Appropriate trekking gear, including rain-resistant boots, jacket or poncho, and daypack cover, will make a rainy season trek more enjoyable.
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