How Do I Register for an Inca Trail?

How Do I Register for an Inca Trail?
Every year, over 75,000 visitors trek the arduous, yet breathtaking, 26-mile Inca Trail from Cusco, Peru to Machu Picchu. The increase in popularity has caused the Peruvian government to implement restrictions to ensure that the environment along the trail is protected. The trail has been limited to only 500 hikers per day via the issuance of trek permits, including the over 300 required licensed Peruvian porters guiding adventure seekers from all around the globe. As a result, registering for your Incan journey requires some careful planning.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Decide how long you want to travel. Companies offer packages that range from just two day excursions up to seven days. The most popular trek is four days long and is often the easiest to find a group of other travelers to accompany you.
Step 2
Determine which trail you want to trek. The most traversed path begins at Cusco and climbs 4,000 feet to Machu Picchu. Other trails start at different points, pass through different scenic vantage points and vary in ascent difficulty, but almost all resolve at Machu Picchu.
Step 3
Choose a company to book your trip with. By Peruvian government regulations, only Peruvians can be licensed to guide trekkers. Registering with a company outside of Peru may be less intimidating since you won't have to speak Spanish, but you can expect to pay almost 50 percent less if you book your trip directly with a Peruvian company. Companies outside of Peru will arrange accommodations for staying in Cusco as well as your excursion, and then sell the excursion to a tour guide agency in Peru.
Step 4
Check to see if the tour company requires a certain number of trekkers to depart for the excursion and what happens if that requirement isn't met. Often if one company's group isn't filled it will combine groups with another company.
Step 5
Make your reservation. Book your trip up to four months in advance during the popular summer months; only five weeks advance preparation is needed during the off-season months of April, October and November, according to Trip Advisor. In most cases you will have to pay a 50 percent deposit at the time of reservation. Request any reservation confirmations in writing to use as proof of reservation.

Tips & Warnings

As a general rule, the shorter the hike duration, the cheaper the package costs.
It is more economical to travel with a group, as a package can be over double the cost for one- or two-person private excursions.
In past years mudslides have infrequently destroyed parts of the main railroad that tourists take to and from the starting point of the Inca Trail hike, leaving as many as 1,500 travelers stranded for extended periods of time.
When researching travel agencies in Peru beware of Internet scams. Try to find reliable reviews of a company before committing to it.

Article Written By Jacob Hendriks

Jacob Hendriks' work has appeared in "The Western Front," "The Planet Magazine" and He graduated from Western Washington University with a major in international business management and a minor in Community Health. Hendriks' passion for sports nutrition and fitness, combined with experience as a personal trainer, has led him to pursue health-oriented journalism.

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