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Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

Gold Coast...
Level Contributor
1,085 posts
98 reviews
66 helpful votes
Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

Hi, Our family of 5 would like to hike the Inca Trail when we are there in January (mid Jan 2018).

Since it is low season, is there a chance we can just show up and book when we're there or do we need to book it in advance? If we need to book in advance, which company would you recommend? A cheaper trip would be our preference.

Thank you so much for your advice!

Lima, Peru
Level Contributor
13 posts
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
1. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

Hi, you can check the availability of the Inca Trail on this site- https:/…

It is currently fully booked up to November 2017 so I would recommend booking 3-4 months in advance to make sure you get your space. It would be terrible if you got to Cusco and you were not able to do it. The website shows that there are still spaces available in June 17 for the 2 day trek so that should be fine, but it's definitely not the same experience.

You still have some time to shop around for the best price. The best company I saw when I was looking to do the Inca Trail was Haku Travel. All the companies basically offer the same things on the trek, but they were about $100 cheaper compared to some of the others.

I hope you have a great trip!

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago
Level Contributor
21,495 posts
125 reviews
78 helpful votes
2. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

Booking in January is actually kind of an issue. The site from post 1 is not the official government site. It's an agency. If you notice, starting in January all the dates say "pre-reserve." That's because the government doesn't release the permits for next year until very late in the year. Typically not until December. So what the agencies will do is take your reservation and ask your preferred dates but they can't actually buy the permits yet. There won't be an easy way to know how many spaces are left. So I would pick an agency and pre-reserve.

Also note that the Inca Trail has a lot of fixed costs like permits, MP entrance, bus tickets and train tickets on the way back, etc. Usually if an agency offers a cheap price compared to their competitors, it's because they don't pay the local porters very well.

Lima, Peru
Destination Expert
for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
Level Contributor
19,161 posts
522 reviews
270 helpful votes
3. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

In other words, yes, book in advance.

Your chances of finding a permit once you are in Peru are almost nil to none

Cusco, Peru
Level Contributor
631 posts
11 reviews
2 helpful votes
4. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

Actually parts of January is super low season and quite often tickets don't sell out for January dates (I have gotten tickets a week in advance in January and my date didn't sell out), but this works only if you are flexible with your hike start date. That said, people wanting to hike around the beginning of the month will need to book in advance.

In previous years, ticket sales opened in october/november for january and december/january for the rest of the year. There are rumours this will be changing this year so it's *possible* that availability for next year will be made public before the end of the year.

Other than availability, finding an agency to take you is another consideration, but as a family of 5 you shouldn't have a problem, since most agencies are willing to open new groups with 2 or 3 trekkers.

Edited: 3 years ago
Henderson, Nevada
Level Contributor
5,121 posts
142 reviews
83 helpful votes
5. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

We know several porters, cooks and guides and they have all indicated that the majority of agencies all pay the same (what the government requires) regardless of what the agency charges, most of the higher priced operators have more overhead, and tend to just pocket any excess, so paying more is not necessarily a guarantee of getting more to the porters.

Your best bet if you really want to help out the porters is to chose a reasonably priced agency and just give the crew a healthy tip, this way you know the money is going to the porters and not the agency.

As to your question, I agree with the above, waiting to book Inka Trail until you are here is a bad idea, no matter what time of year you are traveling, best to choose an agency and get your reservation in. Just keep in mind the comment that Wes made above, tickets are not released until the end of December or the start of January, so it is possible that you could book now, and still not get the Inka Trail, if there happens to be a run on the date you want, and the agency is not able to get you tickets.

6. Re: Do we have to book ahead for Inca Trail trek in January?

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