No, the permit system is put in place to protect the safety of tourists, employees, and the environment. It is illegal for you to trek on the Inca Trail without a licensed trek operator. Also, due to the popularity of this trek, it is nearly impossible to find a legitimate tour group with extra space, let alone available permits, at the last minute.The permits are only sold to pre-approved tour operators. An company can only be licensed to operate treks on the Inca Trail if they are registered Peruvian tour operators with an office in Cusco. There are close to 150 licensed operators, so the quality still varies dramatically. Fortunately, Detour screens all the companies we feature on our website: all the Inca Trail operators featured are licensed and all provide high quality treks.