Trekking to Machu Picchu is often a once in a lifetime experience, so undoubtedly, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best Inca Trail tour operator for your adventure. One with a good reputation, that fits your budget, and that offers the style of trek you really want (simple or luxury, two-day or four-day, group tour or private).
The historically renowned Inca trail was built approximately 900 years ago by the Incas to connect their capital city of Cusco to the Sacred Citadel of Machu Picchu. Today, tourists begin their hike from Km 82, which is located along the railway leading to the town just south of Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes. This challenging hike offers trekkers incredible Andean landscapes as they travel the total distance of 45km/26 miles. Understandably, access to the Inca Trail is extremely regulated by the Peruvian government. Entrance to the trail is restricted by a permit process and only 500 permits are issued per day – which on a typical day are used by 200 trekkers and 300 trekking staff made up of guides, chef’s and porters. Securing a permit is only possible through an approved tour operator and spaces are capped, so unsurprisingly, you’ll need to plan in advance!
If you are beginning your search for an Inca Trail tour operator, this blog is a good place to start. There are more than 190 licensed Inca Trail operators in Peru. We’ve pulled together this list which includes some of the most well-established and reputable Peru-based companies recommended through personal experience, and through friends and colleagues working within the Peruvian tourism industry, particularly in Cusco. We’ve also included companies that have had consistently positive reviews within other travel guides and websites such as Tripadvisor.
We don’t claim that this is a definitive list; there are certainly other tour companies out there, both new and old, that probably deserve to be featured here – feel free to recommend a company in the comments section below so that we can take a look and feature next time.
As well as the glowing recommendations that these companies have received, it’s also important to note that they are all based in Peru, so as well as the benefit of local guides with a wealth of knowledge and information, your money would also be helping the communities of Peru and sustaining the ecosystem.
All these companies offer alternative treks to Machu Picchu, as well as various other tours around Cusco and beyond.
SAM Travel Peru is a highly professional tour & trekking company that caters for travellers of all age groups, making sure everyone makes it to their intended destination. A key feature offered by SAM Travel is small group sizes. They never exceed eight trekkers per group, unlike many operators who will happily reach the maximum group limit of 16 people. What’s more, the company’s Peruvian owner, Saul Alvarez, has been working along the Inca Trail since the age of 18, including as porter and a guide.
For a while, this relatively new start-up company has been on our list of other Inca Trail tour operators to consider. The tour guides, porters and cooks have shares in the company, with people earning a fair amount for their level of contribution. The company has also had plenty of excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. Definitely one to consider.
Enigma Adventure offers group Inca Trail treks at a mid-range price, but they’re really known for their private luxury treks. These personalised treks can be more than double the price of budget 4 day/3 night treks to Machu Picchu, but you’ll be hiking in style with excellent service and gourmet food. Not for budget travellers, but worth considering if you want something a little more upscale.
Spider Travel is a new & innovative local tour operator in Cusco, covering the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Lares Trek, Tour Packages to Machu Picchu, Luxury glamping treks, Rainbow Mountain and the Choquequirao trek.
Wayki Trek was formed in 1998 by a group of experienced tour guides from different rural communities in the Cusco Region. A key feature offered by Wayki Trek is small group sizes. They never exceed eight trekkers per group, unlike many operators who will happily reach the maximum group limit of 16 people. So, plenty of local experience combined with small groups. What’s not to like?
As noted earlier, there are plenty of Inca Trail operators out there, and although the list above was based on personal experience and the experience of those we know, the following recommendation has good reviews on TripAdvisor and they seem to know their stuff after having had a chat with them:
As for non-Peruvian international Inca Trail operators, there are companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel that offer treks, typically as part of a larger package. These larger international tour operators often use local operators to actually run their treks.
Generally speaking, if you just want to book a trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or any alternative route, it’s best to use a truly local company. But if you want a full travel package (for example, from Lima to Cusco to Machu Picchu and back again, all included), then a well-known international tour company might be worth considering — but it will be more expensive than traveling to Cusco independently and then using a local company.
A scenic 10 m drive from Ollantaytambo, follow the river and the train tracks to the Veronica View Hotel. Along the way, watch across the river for the original terraces from Incan times! Arriving at the hotel, you will be greeted amid gardens of native flowers and orchids. Take in the stunning sight of the Veronica Mountain, covered with glaciers year-round. After you settle into your room, walk through the gardens to the pool and restaurant area. There is a steam sauna, dry sauna, spa, heated swimming pool and restaurant at your feet.
Three comfortable single beds, ideal for groups of friends or family, enjoy the same spectacular view of the Veronica Mountain as the other rooms in the main building. Each room has a private bathroom with beautiful marbled counter tops.
Enjoy the luxury of a King size bed, along with all of the other indulgent services offered by the Veronica View Hotel. Each room is carefully situated to give you the best view of the Veronica Mountain. King rooms are in the main building on either the first or second floor. All King Rooms include jacuzzi
Double rooms are located in the main building, a beautiful room with an expansive view of the snow covered Veronica Mountain and the Urubamba Valley. Double rooms have one double bed, one twin bed and a private bathroom. These rooms are located on the first and second floor