Visitor Limits on Inca Trail Travel Make Early Reservations Advisable

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Anyone hoping to hike the Inca Trail this year is advised to book early in light of government regulated visitor limits on this popular route to Peru's premier destination, Machu Picchu. The new permit system, established last year, allows only 500 people to begin the hike each day.

Anyone hoping to hike the Inca Trail this year is advised to book early in light of government regulated visitor limits on this popular route to Peru's premier destination, Machu Picchu. The new permit system, established last year, allows only 500 people to begin the hike each day.

"For the sustainability of this fragile heavily traveled area, we welcome the Peruvian government's efforts to protect the Inca Trail," Southern Explorations president, Justin Laycob, said. He noted that making reservations well in advance has always been important because of the popularity of Machu Picchu, but now is essential. "To be on the safe side, we recommend booking Inca trail tours at least ninety days before departure."

Permits are offered on a first come first serve basis. Each year Machu Picchu is visited by thousands of travelers, many during the driest months between May and September, Peru's peak tourist season. Since all Inca Trail tours must be guided, permits are granted to just 175 tourists per day. The remaining permits go to the guides, cooks and porters who accompany the tour groups. To secure these coveted slots, tour operators are required to submit the names and passport numbers of those traveling in each party.

What most people call the Inca trail is a 20-mile route to Machu Picchu that passes by several major archeological sites of the Inca civilization. It is but a short segment of the elaborate 18,000-mile road system the Incas built to traverse their vast Empire, once stretching from Southern Colombia to central Chile to north Argentina and the mountainous region of Bolivia.

Specializing in ecotourism, Southern Explorations is an experienced Seattle-based tour operator that offers a wide range of trekking, cultural and multi-sport tours for small groups as well as customized itineraries for private departures to the major destinations of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Patagonia, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and CostaRica. Not all of Southern Explorations' tours to Machu Picchu require Inca Trail permits. Its 7-day Alternative Inca Trail trekking tour uses an alternative hiking route and its four Machu Picchu Cultural Tours travel via bus and train.

More information about Southern Explorations' Inca Trail tours and other destinations may be obtained by calling toll free (877) 784-5400 or Seattle at (206) 784-8111.

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Justin Laycob