The maximum number of Inca Trail permits is 500, Click on one of the following links below to find out how many Inca Trail trek permits are still available. The link will take you to the Ministry of Culture’s website (www.machupicchu.gob.pe) which is the government institution in charge of selling the permits to the licensed tour operators. There are 500 permits available each day, approximately 200 are allocated to tourists and 300 to porters, cooks and guides. If the number of remaining permits is 0 (zero) then all the permits have sold out so you will have to choose another date. If the permits have sold out for a particular date then no trekking company will be able to offer you a space. Trekking companies can’t buy up blocks of permits and sell them on at a later date. Trek permits can only be bought using a tourist’s name and passport number and these details cannot be changed after the permit has been bought. Even if there are cancellations then the cancelled permits do not come back onto the market so there is no waiting list. If there are trek permits available for the date that you want then it doesn’t necessarily mean that the trekking company that you want to use will even have a trek departure on that date. You will have to email the company to check if they have availability.
During the peak months of July and August from 1996 to 2001 as many as 1500 people were starting the trek everyday (about 1000 tourists and 500 porters) . There were no regulations and many trekkers camped wherever they wanted, using the ruins as toilets and discarding rubbish along the trail. The Inca Trail was starting to receive a lot of negative press and UNESCO threatened to remove its status as a World Heritage Site. In order to protect the site the Peruvian government introduced new Inca Trail Regulations in 2002. These regulations restrict the number of trekkers and prevent trekkers from doing the trail independently.
In 2005 the number of people permitted to start the Inca trail has been strictly limited to 500 persons per day. This figure is made up of about 200 tourists and 300 porters. The Peruvian authorities should be praised for their progressive stance on successfully protecting the Inca Trail for future generations, we only wish they would do the same for Machu Picchu itself which currently has no restrictions on the numbers allowed to enter the ruins. However trekkers visiting Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail arrive very early at sunrise and get to see Machu Picchu at its best, well before the hundreds of day-trippers arrive by train at midday.
The Inca Trail is part of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a protected area managed by the Peru National Institute of Natural Resources.
All visitors must obey park regulations prohibiting littering, cutting or damaging trees, removing or damaging stones of ruins and the Trail, removing plants, killing animals, lighting open fires or camping in the archeological sites (only authorized campsites can be used).