The Inca trail which leads to Machu Picchu is one of the most emblematic and popular treks in the Andes region of Peru, but it does need maintenance so every February of each year the trail closes all month. The general protocol is that the last group will depart on the 31st of January and the next group will start on 1st of March to begin the new cycle.
The Purpose of Closing the Inca Trail
The purpose of closing the Inca Trail is to allow conservation projects to take place, as well as to give an opportunity for the camping facilities to be improved upon and give a chance for the vegetation to grow back. Let’s not forget that 500 people a day are trampling through this trail and that causes damage to the path. One reason why this is done every February is because this month takes place in the height of the wet season.
Some Alternatives to the Inca Trail
However, there is a silver lining for those who are too eager to wait for March, the shorter 2-day trek remains open since this trek follows a different route. The once lost city of Machu Picchu will remain open and the train services between Cusco and Machu Picchu also continue to operate, but can shut down if the weather gets bad. During the month of February, some tour companies will offer an alternative 4 day trek, which starts at km82, but instead of climbing the valley to Wayllabamba this route follows the Urubamba River until km104 instead. You will then climb up top to Wiñay Wayna and then finish up on Machu Picchu. This trek is also quite beautiful but does not allow for visits to the Inca ruins at Runkurakay, Sayacmarka or Phuyupatamarca.
Remember that the trail closes to make improvements and to fix existing problems on the trek, so try to not be frustrated if you actually came to Peru in February and were unaware that the Inca trail would be closed. As mentioned there are alternatives you can consider as well as being able to visit the rest of the country and all of its wonderful destinations. The best thing you can do to avoid the issue of being left without the Inca trail is to contact a Peru travel agency ahead of your vacations so they can plan out your entire trip and take all the stress and worry out of organizing your Peru tour package. They will make sure you are experiencing the trail as well as other Peru tours at the best possible times.
If you have any questions regarding the Inca trail, Machu Picchu tours or any other Peru related questions, please feel free to contact us