It is not possible to trek the Inca Trail without hiring the services of a guide from a licensed Inca Trail tour operator. Independent trekking, or trekking without a guide and tour operator has been banned since 2002.
2001 trekking independently was banned. The regulation, however, was not enforced until early 2002. Trekkers now have to trek using the services of a licensed tour operator or directly employ the services of a professional guide (about US$50 per day plus expenses). Walking on your own is now an expensive option. However, if you can get a few friends together then the cost per person drops quickly. If you employ a guide directly you can’t have more than 7 persons in your group and the guide must be officially qualified. Trekkers using the services of just a guide are not allowed to employ other services such as porters or cooks so you’ll have to carry all your equipment and cook for yourselves. The entrance tickets for the trail MUST be bought in Cusco well in advance. They cannot be purchased at the start of the trail.