The Peruvian government requires travellers to have a permit to trek the famous trail and they must travel with a registered operator. There are only 500 permits issued for each day, which includes just 200 travellers and 300 guides and porters, in order to help preserve the trail and surrounding ecosystems.
Since visitors can only make the trek with a company, most operators will deal with the permit on travellers’ behalf. But permits for next year went on sale on 1 October and, since numbers are limited, it’s best to get planning if you want to make your trip a reality.
While the four-day trek on the Inca Trail is one of the most famous hikes in South America, there are other ways to reach Machu Picchu, like the Salkantay Route – a five-to-eight-day hike – and the Lares Route, which heads through the Lares Valley highlands.
For those who want to see the Lost City of the Incas without any hiking at all, it’s also possible to get there using the trains and buses that head to the nearby settlement of Aguas Calientes. However, it’s important to note that there is now a timed ticketing system, so travellers should still plan in advance for a visit.
If you want to get away from the crowds heading to Machu Picchu but still see incredible Incan ruins, then you can head to Choquequirao, which is thought to be three-times the size of Machu Picchu, but substantially less visited.