When you are starting to plan a trip to Cusco, one of the first things you think about is how much the Inca Trail cost, when is the right season to come and how to choose the best travel agency.
The first thing you need to know before hiring a travel agency is that those who operate the Inca Trail trek have to be officially licensed by the government, and this license is only give to Peruvian companies who have an office in Cusco.
You will find online international trekking companies offering you good Inca Trail costs as well, they outsource the services to a local operator. Local or international, the different kind of possible trekkings is varied.
Choosing an operator is not easy. You will find many companies, international and local operators, who market the Inca Trail. We suggest that you check the information in the different forums for better recommendations and when you review their website, check all their options, references and licenses.
When looking for the Inca Trail options you will find different alternatives. The shortest one is for 2 days Inca Trail that is the best fit for those who don’t have much time, prefer short trips and want to include young family members. Classic Inca Trail for 4 days is the choice most popular, aimed mostly for people who wants to absorb the most of nature, who are really fit and have enough time in their trip schedule.
If you are thinking of going your own way, we regret to inform you that this option is not possible today. The Peruvian government regulates access and grants only 500 daily permits for the Inca Trail, including guides, porters and cooks. Each hiker must have a permit, and we will pass through different checkpoints along the route.
Permits are sold all year long the faster you book it the better, sometimes permits are sold out 4 months before the date. It is important to remember that for cleaning and maintenance reasons, the Inca trail is closed to the public during February.
How much does Inca trail cost?
To answer this question, we will base ourselves on the 4-day Inca Trail which, as we have already mentioned, is the most popular option for hikers. Its cost can vary from 600 to 1500 dollars. The price depends to a large extent on the size of the group, whether it is private or open and on the services provided by the operator.
What should be included in the travel company tour you choose:
- Pick up from the hotel and transfer to km 82 in the Sacrey Valley
- Bilingual guide tours. (English and Spanish)
- Porters to carry all the gear.
- Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu (Some operators also include entrance to Huayna Picchu)
- Camping equipment (tent, dining/kitchen, food and cooking materials)
- Cook – three meals a day
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu down to Aguas Calientes (some operators don’t include it)
- Return train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (some operators don’t include it)
- Trip back to your hotel in Cusco. Some operators will only take you back into the city, the taxi back to your hotel is less than 5 dollars.
- Tips: Most companies will suggest you what an acceptable time, it mostly ranges from 20 to 30%
- Porters: If you decide to hire a porter to carry your personal things, it can cost you between 80 up to 120 dollars for the 4 days.
- Guide in additional languages (French, German, Portuguese).
How to save some money:
Maybe four days isn’t enough for some travelers. Some agencies may add one more day to your trip for free, but to make sure that there is a possibility to ask first before booking.
Sometimes you will find a tour that is a real bargain. The best thing to do for these cases is to carefully review what it includes, so that we don’t get a nasty surprise and are charged for any services that should be included.
If you are looking to save money, you can always carry your own backpack instead of hiring a porter or bring your own gear. The most companies will only provide you with a tent and add extra costs for renting extra gear.
Other ways to save money is if you are a student, most operators will give you a special price. Also if you are travelling with a big group, operators can give you a discounts, normally from 4 people and up.
By last, operators have final prices, which means you can’t change anything in the trip. Another way to save money is to find one operator that won’t include the train back from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. Most agencies will budget you the most expensive train ticket, but you can choose the economic one.