In Cusco there are several hiking routes of several days to Machu Picchu. However, for many, the best of all is the 4-day Inca Trail. The reason? Walk the trails built by the Incas (qhapac ñan) until you reach the wonder of the world in the upper part. No other route allows you to enter through this area, called Intipunku (door of the sun). From there, the first view of Machupicchu is simply breathtaking. Know the rules and restrictions to perform this famous walker.
Why put rules on the Inca Trail?
The use of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has been regulated by representative entities of the Peruvian State such as DIRCETUR, Ministry of Culture and SERNANP.
The main objective of the regulation is to promote and contribute to the conservation of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Machu Picchu, regulating the tourist use of the Inca Trail, helping to reduce the impacts caused by visitors to the Inca Trail and guaranteeing the safety of the walker.
Can everyone do the Inca Trail?
All people can do the Inca Trail as long as they get the corresponding permit through an authorized tourism agency.
For safety and conservation reasons of the Inca Trail, this hiking trail is closed to the public throughout the month of February.
In cases of emergencies such as natural disasters or others, the Inca Trail will also remain closed to protect the integrity of visitors.
Who travels the route? What are your duties?
In total there are 500 people who walk the Inca Trail every day. They are divided as follows:
- Visitors – They are tourists, who enter in number of 200 people every day, and are subdivided into groups of 16 visitors maximum.
- Guides – The official tour guides are in charge of leading each group of tourists. If the group is large (maximum of 16 tourists) you can assign 2 guides.
- Support staff – For the tourist to develop his walk without setbacks, support personnel such as cooks, porters and more are necessary. Support staff and guides enter 300 people each day.
There is an alternative route to the classic 4-day Inca Trail. It is the 2-day Inca Trail, which covers only the last kilometers of the original route. Only 250 people can travel this short section. However, since not many tourists choose this trek, availability can be found only a few weeks in advance.
Tourism agencies and their duties with the visitor
The travel agencies that offer the Inca Trail must be authorized and accredited, by DIRCETUR and the technical management of Machu Picchu. These must meet all the necessary requirements to operate.
Tourism agencies are responsible for acquiring permits for the Inca Trail from the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
Tourism agencies are also in charge of hiring support staff (guides, cooks and porters) and registering them in the records of the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
Tourism agencies must fulfill some duties with the visitor, such as:
- First aid kit.
- Oxygen balloon.
- Propane gas burners.
- Portable radio communication equipment.
- Plastic camping nets.
- Tanks for solid waste.
- Tents for group use.
- Rain ponchos for porters. Go on a tour for January or March, it only requires 3 or 4 months in advance.
Camps and routes
The camps (areas where you will spend the night) and the routes (starting point of the route) are assigned by the Ministry of Culture of Peru at the time of purchasing the permits from the tourism agencies.
The camps enabled for the Inca Trail are:
- First night: Ayapata camp.
- Second night: Chaquicocha camp.
- Third night: Wiñayhuayna or Phuyupatamarca camp.
The routes enabled to start the Inca Trail are the following:
- Route 1: From kilometer 82 (3 nights).
- Route 2: From kilometer 88 (3 nights).
- Route 3: From kilometer 82 through Piscacucho (3 nights).
How long can I stay on the Inca Trail?
Each tourist can stay on the Inca Trail route for a maximum of 3 days and 3 nights. The tourist guides are in charge of complying with the time allowed by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
To enter each of the established camps, the tourist must carry their original and current personal documents. Thus the guards will be able to register their entries and exits in the different surveillance posts. The park rangers are in charge of controlling the camps and the time established during the Inca Trail.
The park rangers will permanently monitor the Inca Trail. They will inspect that there are no walks from 7pm to 5.30am. In addition, this regulation is complied with. It should be noted that the park rangers have the support of the national police.
Prohibitions for tourists
During the Inca Trail it is forbidden to take with you:
- Wildlife hunting implements such as nets, cages or traps.
- Kerosene, gasoline or elements that can start fires.
- Drug or alcoholic beverages.
- Domestic animals.
- Pickaxes and shovels.
- Sound equipment (or some electronic article that disturbs the tranquility of the route).
- Metal tipped poles (only rubber tipped poles are allowed).
- Any type of transport such as bicycles.
- Drones or professional filming implements.
The Inca Trail is a historical area and protected by the State of Peru. Therefore it is strictly forbidden to damage the Inca walls or constructions along the way. If this offense is incurred, the authorities can take the pertinent judicial measures.
The last day the Inca Trail ends in the Inca city of Machu Picchu. There are also rules that must be followed there. For example, it is forbidden: to go back during the tour, damage the buildings of the place, use selfie sticks, use umbrellas, among others.
Finally, it should be clarified that non-compliance with these regulations will be sanctioned by Sernamp and the Ministry of Culture of Peru, according to the matter of their competence.
To do the Inca Trail you must buy a tour with a tourism agency (see availability). Due to the many tourists who want to do this walk, it is best to buy the tour 6 or 7 months in advance.
By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 01-10-2021
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