Only a limited number of people are permitted to hike the Inca Trail each year. If you have your heart set on this classic trek to Machu Picchu, be sure to book your trek months in advance to get permits for your desired dates.

Important facts

  • Permits go on sale near the end of each year for the following year
  • Book your trek 5-6 months in advance to ensure you get permits
  • May and June sell out quickly (often within a month of going on sale)
  • 500 people (including trekking staff) are permitted to start the Inca Trail each day

Upcoming permits for 2018

For the 2018 season, Inca Trail permits are expected to go on sale in October 2017, two months earlier than the previous year. If you're planning to visit Peru during the popular months of May to June, you'll want to ensure your trek is booked well in advance. Please check with the operator regarding availability for the date you intend to start your trail.

Which treks require a permit

When talking about the Inca Trail, most people are referring to the 4 or 5-day Inca Trail treks which lead to Machu Picchu. This trek starts in the Sacred Valley near the village of Ollantaytambo and ends with entering the ruins of Machu Picchu through the famous 'Sun Gate'. In 2017, permits were also released for a shorter, 2-day Inca Trail trek which allows trekkers to trek only the last day of the Inca Trail (with the next day to explore the ruins). These permits are easier to get and it's a great option for those who are short on time. 

How the permit system works

Inca Trail trailhead
The start of the Inca Trail in the Sacred Valley

Given the popularity of the trail and the need to maintain its infrastructure, the Peruvian tourism board only allows a limited number of people (500) to hike the trail each day. Of these 500 daily permits — which include porters, cooks, and guides — around 200 permits are available for tourists.

Once purchased, permits are non-refundable and non-transferable between travelers, meaning that if permits are sold out for a specific date there is no way to get new permits for this date. (This is why local operators request a non-refundable deposit when booking your trek.)

Booking your trek in advance

Entering the Inca Trail
Checking permits at the start of the Inca Trail

Inca Trail permits are released by the government near the end of each year at which point they're available for local trekking companies to purchase. Trekking companies can only purchase permits for travelers that have already secured their booking — they cannot purchase permits in bulk or keep permits on hold.

Permits often sell out quickly for the more popular months from May to October. Once you know your travel dates, it’s best to inquire with a local specialist who can check if permits are available for your dates.

How quickly permits tend to sell out

Note: The dates below are for 2016/2017 sales and are meant merely to indicate how quickly permits sell out.

Month Permit availability
Mid-December to early January 2016 Permits go on sale (frenzy!)
By February 1, 2017 Gone: all of May, June and 1st week of July
By February 22, 2017 Gone: all of July, half of August, a quarter of September
By April 7, 2017 Gone: all of August, September, a quarter of October
By June 16, 2017 Gone: all of October
By October 1, 2017 Gone: three-quarters of November, all dates around Christmas

Historically, when permits went on sale

Permits for When permits went on sale
2018 October 2017
2017 December 2016

Annual maintenance

The Inca Trail is often shut down for the entire month of February for trail maintenance.