by Hazel Plush, The Daily Telegraph, December 9, 2016
Travellers planning to explore Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail next year are being urged to book their trip this week, or risk losing out due to a change in the way permits are distributed.
The number of visitors allowed to tackle the four-day trek to the ancient citadel in Peru is limited to 500 per day, with permits bookable only through tour operators, and often sold out months in advance.
The annual permit quota is usually released in January, with travel agents scrambling to secure their clients’ places on a first-come-first-served basis. However, it has been revealed that the 2017 permits will go on sale this Thursday (December 15), one month in advance, sparking concern that those unaware could be caught out.
Tour operator KE Adventure, which has operated Inca Trail trekking holidays for 25 years, was alerted to the change of plan by its local staff.
“Our agents told us they need the clients’ details by December 15 this year, instead of the usual January deadline,” said a spokesperson.
“Permits for the first two months of the season can sell out within 24 hours, so it looks like the mad rush will be happening earlier than usual.”
There has not yet been an official announcement from the Peruvian tourism ministry, but the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) confirmed the changes to Telegraph Travel.
KE Adventure’s spokesperson continued: “Changes like this don’t tend to be confirmed by the ministry until the very day they happen.”
Although 500 permits are available for each day, around 300 of those are allocated to porters and guides. When booking, operators must provide the passport information of each client; permits are non-transferable and there is no waiting list.
“We advise all trekkers to get their bookings in as soon as possible,” said Kathy Jarvis, founder and owner of South America specialist operator Andean Trails. “The Inca Trail is more popular than ever. Permits for May and June [when trekking conditions are best] can sell out in the first 24 hours, and other dates sell out over the next few days and weeks.”
The Inca Trail is not the only way to reach Machu Picchu, but is lauded as the most spectacular – approaching the Inca citadel from above, rather than via the main entrance favoured by day trippers. The four-day, 27-mile trek reaches 13,800ft at its highest point, although the pace is steady, with stop-offs to explore lesser-known ruins and enjoy views of the Andes.
The site at Machu Picchu is widely celebrated as one of the wonders of the world and forms part of Telegraph Travel’s Trip of a Lifetime series .
This article was written by Hazel Plush from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.