After years of speculations, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced on Thursday April 27, 2017 new entrance rules for visiting Machu Picchu.
Starting from the first of July 2017 these new rules will affect all visitors of the Machu Picchu Inca citadel. Sales of those new tickets might start already on the fist on June.
The official reason
When Machu Picchu was first given the UNESCO World Heritage status back in December 1983, the Inca Citadel was fairly unknown to the world. But since then, tourism has grown steep and reached to more than 3000 a day…
According to an investigation of UNESCO the daily weight of all these visitors can damage the ground of the archeological site and cause the site to sink, or worse, even to slide ‘off the hill’… For this reason you can see a thin cable stretched above the main square of Machu Picchu. This cable is there to register each small movement of the soil and ‘floor’ of Machu Picchu.
In 2011 UNESCO finally obligated the management of Machu Picchu to limit the daily amount of visitors. The official maximum amount should have been 1750 visitors a day, but the management of Machu Picchu DDC Cusco (Dirección Desconcentrada de Cultura de Cusco), under pressure of the British Belmond and several other international hotel chains, managed to raise this maximum amount up to 2500 visitors a day…
In reality however, the management (DDC Cusco) even isn’t really strict with these rules and travel agencies found their ways around it. The result is that during high season the daily amount of visitors is still even higher than 3000!
According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture the new rules of 2017 will be implemented to control how visitors and guides access the site, in order to maintain the integrity of the site and its legacy for future visitors.
However reading the 6th final conclusion of the Resolution you will notice that DDC Cusco will now allow instead of 2500, a maxim amount of 5940 visitors a day, spread out over 2 groups!
So starting the first of July 2017 and for a period of 2 years, entrance tickets to Machu Picchu will be split into 2 entrance times.
The first visitors turn is from 6:00 am till 12:00 pm.
The second turn is from 12:00 pm till 17:30 h.
Each group is allowed to contain a max of 45 to 55% of the 5940 visitors, which brings the maximum amount of visitors that can be at ones on the site at 3267!
And then we are not even talking about how many visitors will be waiting at both sides of the entrance of Machu Picchu at 12:00 pm…
In an attempt to accomplish these new rules DDC Cusco also announces that starting from the first of July 2017 all visitors entering Machu Picchu must be accompanied by an official guide! These Guides are only permitted to take maximum group sizes of 16 people. Guides need to sign in and sign out all visitors in his/her group. The guides will also be responsible for informing visitors of the regulations of the park.
Please do consider that this will mean that 3267 visitors will need a min. amount of 205 guides, not taking in account the private groups…
On top of this, also the train schedules to visit Machu Picchu are not (yet) adjusted to these new visitors hours and amounts...
The new rules also prohibit re-entrance to Machu Picchu, meaning that when you leave the site you’re not allowed to return.
The rules do include a stipulation, which allow re-entrance for special circumstances. At the moment, the only toilets at Machu Picchu are located on the outside of the archeological site, so until a solution is found to solve this problem (for 5000 visitors), we think that this is a fairly good “special circumstance.”
The new rules define 3 main routes/ circuits which visitors to Machu Picchu have to follow (with their guides). The route that you take will be defined when purchasing the ticket on the official website from Machu Picchu At the moment this is still not possible and this might mean that NOW is a good time to still buy your original entrance ticket to be able to visit Machu Picchu a max. of 12 hours!
Each circuit takes an average 2h 30 min. to 3 hours to complete. To understand the exact route you will take, you need to have a fairly good understanding of the layout of Machu Picchu. The circuits are marked with ropes. Circuit 1, is the classic and most complete route. It is also the most ‘challenging’ from a physical perspective. It first takes in the upper-sector of the citadel, before heading in a large loop around to the lower-sector. Circuits 2 & 3, visit the mid and lower-sectors of the archeological site and are more suitable for those who want a more relaxing visit.
It is not permitted to leave these defined areas, and anyone found doing so, can be removed from the site.
Additional, alternative Circuits
Climbing the Huayna Picchu Mountain
Daily only 400 visitors are allowed to climb the Huayna Picchu Mountain and its entrance ticket can’t be bought separate. It has to be bought together with the entrance ticket of Machu Picchu.
To prevent that too many visitors will climb the small and steep trails to the top of Huayna Picchu at the same moment, the 400 visitors are split in 2 groups:
The first 200 visitors can enter between: 7:00 am – 8:00 am.
The second 200 visitors can enter between: 10:00 am – 11:00 am.
Visitors must sign in and out of the trek at the control post, at the start of the trail head. The new rules state that the time allowed to complete the trek should be between 3 & 4 hours, depending if you include or leave out the Gran Cavern (also known as the Moon Temple). Technically this ticket can also be interesting for those who want to spend more time on the archeological site of Machu Picchu. A combination ticket cost around 16 US$ more than a normal ticket, but it gives you 3 more hours on the site. It allows you for example to enter Huayna Picchu at 11:00 am, climb to the top and back in 2 hours, but stay longer on the site of Machu Picchu and leave at 15:00 h.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Also the entrance to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain has to be bought together with the general entrance ticket of Machu Picchu and is split in 2 turns:
First entrance: 7:00 am – 8:00 am.
Second entrance: 9:00 am – 10:00 am.
Visitors must sign in and out of the trek at the control post, at the start of the trail head. The new rules state that the time to complete the trek is approximately 4 hours. All visitors must have left the trek by 15:00 h.
How guides will accompany visitors hiking Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain is of still fairly unclear…
As set out in Article 19 of the Ministerial Resolution, here are the most important (new) visitor rules for Machu Picchu:
19.1. Any type of bag/rucksack measuring more than 40 x 35 x 20 cm (15.7 x 13.7 x 7.9”) is not permitted, and must be placed in storage (near the entrance).
19.2. It is prohibited to enter with food and drink.
19.4. It is prohibited to enter with alcoholic beverages.
19.5. It is prohibited to enter with umbrellas or sun shades (hats and ponchos / rain coats are permitted).
19.6. It is prohibited to enter with photographic tripods or any type of camera stand/support. This is only permitted with pre-authorization and the appropriate permit.
19.9. It is prohibited to enter with any musical instruments, including megaphones and speakers.
19.11. It is prohibited to enter with shoes with high-heels, or hard soles. Only soft soles are permitted (like those found in training shoes or walking shoes/boots).
19.12. It is prohibited to enter with children’s strollers / prams. Only strap on baby/child carriers are permitted.
19.17. It is prohibited to climb or lean on walls or any part of the citadel.
19.18. It is prohibited to touch, move or remove any lithic items / structures.
19.22. It is prohibited to enter with walking sticks with a metal or hard point. Only elderly people and physically-handicapped people are permitted to enter with a walking stick, when it has a rubber tip.
19.25. It is prohibited to get naked, dress up, lie down, run and jump.
19.26. It is prohibited to make loud noises, applaud, shout, whistle and sing. The tranquility and character of Machu Picchu must be maintained at all times.
19.27. It is prohibited to smoke or use an electronic cigarette.
19.32. It is prohibited to feed the resident or wild animals.
19.33. It is prohibited to paraglide; and/ or fly any type of drone or small aircraft above the site
The last part of the new resolution suggests that the new rules are actually a test for the future. If it is a success, then after 2 years the next step might be to split the visitor’s day into 3 parts, from 6:00 am until 10:00 am, from 10:00 am until 14:00 h and from 14:00 h until 18:00 h.
But no worries, all these new rules are really to protect the archeological site of Machu Picchu, not to earn more money…
The complete Ministerial Resolution is named No. 070-2007-MC. It is a long legal document written in Spanish, which you can read here: PDF Resolution 070-2007-MC in Spanish