Why we need permits to enter the Inca trail?
At the end of the ’90s, the Inca Trail permits didn’t exist. At that time, the history of the trail was getting known and become a matter of interest to academics, hikers and pretty much everybody. There was not any kind of regulation, so all this wave of Historians-curious-adventures used to get in the trail, freely.
And as you may imagine this produce chaos.
Garbage was a major issue. People used to set campsites anywhere they can to spend the night. At the moment they left, they also left all kind of garbage plus human waste. To this, we add the natural erosion and the exploitation of the porters.
All this together caused that the trail starts to be more hated than loved. The sanitation problems and the guides without certification who lead trips, most of the time people without not preparation.
All these caused the Peruvian government to implement a permits system in 2002 to control the number of persons and to establish standards to get in the trail. The first one of those standards was: permits will be granted only to travel companies properly authorized. So, no more private guided tours were allowed since then.
Only 500 people are allowed to get in the trail daily. 200 tourist and 300 among cooks, porters, and guides. The erosion of the trail was reduced and each year during February the trail close to maintenance. The situation with the porters also has been regularized they can carry only 20 kilograms per trek and earn a minimum wage per day.
Now in this more organized system, the prices of the tours increased but also increased the quality of the experience during the trek.
How to get the permits
La Dirección Regional de Cultura (DRC or Ministry of Culture) are the only ones allowed to issue the permits to get in the Inca Trail. And the only ones allowed to get that permits, as we said before, are the properly authorized tour operators.
So, there’s no way you can do this by yourself or with someone in particular you must find a trustful company and let them do the paperwork.
Checking how many permits left
If you wish to check by yourself the number of permits left in the dates you are planning to make the Inca Trail, You got two options:
- Visit the DRC web page and follow the steps (But most of the time can be wrong).
- Or ask the company you like, they’ll have more accurate data.
Alternatives to the Inca Trail
So with only 200 trail permits per day, it’s likely all the permits are sold during the dates you are planning to travel, especially if you are coming during high season. So the first ever advise is to check the availability months in advance.
Remember here in Peru we have a lot of fantastic treks you can take on if you can’t get the permits. We have the Short Inca Trail (Inca trail 2 days) that can be combined with others like Lares trek. Or one of our favorite the Salkantay Trek.
Some of then also end in Machu Picchu and need no permits at all, Just ask us for the details
Don’t forget to give your passport number right because you can not change and then you will lose your money.