A good option to avoid inconveniences in your journey through the Inca Trail is to choose one of the best tour operators that has the permits to plan your trip. It should be one with a good reputation, that fits your budget and offers the style of trek you really want (simple or luxury, two or four days, group or private). But with more than 190 officially licensed Inca Trail tour operators, deciding which one to choose is no easy task.
Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the best Inca Trail operators in Peru, based on different criteria. This includes interviews with one of the fundamental elements that make up the Inca Trail, which are the porters; personal experiences with several of the companies (whether trekking, kayaking or other outdoor activities); recommendations from renowned people working in the Peruvian tourism industry, especially in Cusco; and positive reviews in travel guides and travel websites, cautiously including websites with user-generated content (usually the TripAdvisor platform).
This list should not be considered definitive nor is it oriented to offer concrete options; in fact, its update for 2023 has eliminated some operators due to new perceptions regarding their labor practices. Undoubtedly, there are other new and old tour companies that probably deserve to be listed here but are not (feel free to recommend a company by contacting us through our networks below, and it will be taken into account for the next update). Although it is important to note that the trekking operators listed here are among the most established, respected and reliable in Peru.
Important note on the welfare of porters
The conditions of porters working along the Inca Trail and other routes remain a social issue, and the most recent porters’ strike in Cusco took place in June 2019. It is an ongoing problem and one that finds no solution, so before choosing any Inca Trail tour operator, it is good to know about the labor rights that this company offers for workers and porters. These tour operators presented here should all comply with these regulations, but it is not always the case, so it is always good to know about the rights of the porters anyway and bring in labor justice for them.
The best Inca Trail tour operators in 2023
The following Inca Trail tour operators are ordered by price – not quality of travel, from the cheapest to the most luxurious options. Unless otherwise noted, rates are for the classic four-day, three-night Inca Trail route (group travel). Prices can change quickly, especially at the beginning of the year, but these are average prices throughout the year.
All of these companies are based in Peru, so the money you spend will stay in the country, and all offer alternative tours and excursions to Machu Picchu and other tours in and around Cuzco, which you can learn about particularly on each provider’s website.
Valencia Travel Cusco
Valencia Travel Cusco is a very professional trekking and tour company that focuses on travelers young and old, making sure everyone reaches their destination. Recommended their trek to Machu Picchu via the alternative Huchuy Qosqo trail considered – a great experience: Excellent food, an expert guide and enthusiastic porters. And a few glasses of chicha along the way – per your comments.
- Website: www.valenciatravelcusco.com
- Price of the Inca Trail: 676 USD
Lorenzo Expeditions is a travel agency located in Cusco Peru. Known mainly for being creators of the famous Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu as one of the best alternatives to the Inca Trail, this tour is more oriented towards adventure and outdoor activities in an alternative route through the Andean rainforest of Cusco and Quillabamba.
They state on their website “We are 100% Adventure Operators, in 18 years of work we have learned to give a unique and personalized service, our thousands of passengers confirm it”. They work with transparent policies in treatment and promotion of work on the Inca Trail route, proving after so many years to be one of the best options to visit Machu Picchu in all its routes.
- Website: www.lorenzoexpeditions.com
- Price of the Inca Trail: 679 USD
Llama Path is another Inca Trail operator with a solid reputation. Its owner, Jose Gongora, had a lot of experience working as a porter on the Inca Trail before founding Llama Path in 2003. The welfare of the porters is naturally a priority, along with the positive and fun outlook that this particular agency exudes.
- Website: www.llamapath.com
- Inca Trail: 750 USD
Photo Tours Peru
Flavio Huamani, owner of Photo eTours Peru, has been a photographer and tour guide for more than two decades. He now leads tailor-made tours along the Inca Trail and other locations for photography enthusiasts and beginners who want to improve their photography skills. An excellent alternative to what is normally offered out there.
- Website: www.phototoursperu.com
- Inca Trail: 750 USD
Evolution Treks Peru
If ethical practices are high on your list when looking for a tour operator for the Inca Trail, then consider Evolution Treks. It’s an interesting option thanks to the company’s structure and philosophy, which is based on the Andean concept of AYNI, or community reciprocity. Tour guides, porters and cooks have shares in the company, and each earns a fair amount for their level of contribution. This ethical stance has caught the attention of some of the world’s best travel media, including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s travel and National Geographic, which published an article on Evolution’s pioneering use of women porters. One of their porters also wrote a post for me here in New Peruvian: Uphill and Down: A Female Porter’s Life on the Inca Trail. They offer ethical tours and small groups.
- Website: www.evolutiontreksperu.com
- Inca Trail: 790 USD
Sun Gate Tours
Sun Gate Tours, a Cusco-based Peruvian-owned tour operator founded in 2004, meets almost all, if not all, of the requirements to be a solid, affordable Inca Trail option. No frills, perhaps, but delivering reliably and conscientiously.
- Website: www.sungatetours.com
- Inca Trail: $750 per person with nine or more hikers, with a sliding scale depending on group size amounting to $1,810 for one person.
Wayki Trek was created in 1998 by a group of experienced tour guides from different rural communities in the Cuzco region. A key feature offered by Wayki Trek is the small size of the groups. They never exceed eight hikers per group, unlike many operators who will happily reach the maximum group limit of 16 people. So, lots of local experience combined with small groups. Definitely an option to consider.
- Website: www.waykitrek.net
- Inca Trail: 960 USD
Enigma Adventure offers group treks on the Inca Trail at a mid-range price, but is well known for its luxury private treks. These customized treks cost more than twice as much as the typical 4-day, 3-night trek to Machu Picchu, but you hike in style, with excellent service and gourmet food. Not for budget travelers, but worth considering if you want something a little more chic (perhaps for a honeymoon).
- Website: www.enigmaperu.com
- Inca Trail: $825 USD (or about $1,720 USD per person for private tours, depending on group size).
Explorandes is justifiably proud of its pioneer status: In 1975, it became the first adventure company to run commercial tours on the Inca Trail and Choquequirao. Today it organizes tours and treks throughout Peru, including a popular 5-day, 4-night trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is a day longer than the standard route offered by most agencies, giving more time to explore and avoid the worst crowds on the trail. I have kayaked with
Explorandes on Lake Titicaca and Lake Piuray, and I can vouch for their professionalism and high level of service.
- Website: explorandes.com
- Inca Trail (5 days/4 nights): 1,250 USD for fixed group departures, 1,200 USD per person for private groups.
Amazonas Explorer is a British company based in Cuzco with more than 30 years of experience in the Peruvian market of high level trekking and tours. Like Explorandes, Amazonas Explorer adds an extra day to your standard Inca Trail tour, allowing you to enjoy much of the trail to yourself by leaving later than the hordes of trekkers. You will also have more time to explore the Inca sites along the way.
- Website: amazonas-explorer.com
- Inca Trail (5 days/4 nights): 1,759 USD
More Inca Trail tour companies to keep in mind
The following Inca Trail tour operators are on an additional watch list, so I might as well share them here and they will probably join the final list in the future. These are companies that look good in the services they offer, but not enough information was obtained to give them a full recommendation.
- Inti Sun Trek: (790 USD) Good price, good reviews in forums and on TripAdvisor, and a maximum of eight hikers per Inca Trail group. Sounds promising.
- Cusco Native: (750 USD) This Inca Trail tour operator is owned by Renato Auca Fuentes, a Quechua-speaking Cusco native (hence the company name) who also happens to be the current vice president of ASOORCIC, the main organization of Inca Trail guides and agents in Cusco. I don’t have any trekking experience with the company, but I have been in contact with them and they definitely seem like a good choice. Good reviews on TripAdvisor, too.
As for non-Peruvian international Inca Trail operators, there are companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel that offer treks, usually as part of a larger package. These larger international tour operators often use local operators to run their treks.
In general, if you just want to book a trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or any alternative route, it is best to use a company that is truly local and practices clean policies. But if you want a complete package (e.g. Lima to Cuzco to Machu Picchu and vice versa, all inclusive), it may be worth hiring the services of a reputable international tour company, although it will be more expensive than traveling to Cuzco on your own and hiring the services of a local company.