Located 7000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, the Machu Picchu is the world’s most iconic archeological sites and the symbol of the Inca Empire built in 1450AD.
After been discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, the Machu Picchu was classified as a UNESCO site Heritage and was considered as one of the 7 New Wanders of the World.
Since 1980 the number of tourists and travellers visiting the site have risen by 700%, with a peak at 610,000 people between January and July of 2018, which represents 3% more than the number of visitors of 2016 !
Because of the huge numbers of people at the citadel at once, the sustainability of the site has been threatened, to the point where the government is looking to set new regulations for the visitors.
The goal is to protect the Inca Site by modifying visitation practices.
The new regulation starting in 2018
The new regulations are not set in stone but tourists who visit the archeological site will be expected to follow them in order to enter.
- The number of visitors in the citadel is limited to 5, 940 people per day and on the Inca Trail it is limited to 500 per day.
2. All visitors must be accompanied by a certified guide with no more than 16 people per group for one guide. – However if you are returning in the afternoon or the next day you don’t need a guide, just show them the ticket from the first guided visit.
3. Visitors can no longer stay in the citadel from sunrise to sunset, they must either choose between the two or get a combo ticket. So either between 6 am to noon or between noon and 5.30pm. If visitors want to stay for both they need to purchase a combo ticket at $70 each
4. The guides must follow one of 3 circuits. The 1st is longer and harder physically but makes you see and experience a wider variety of panoramas and parts of the citadel. The 3rd is easier but offers less panoramic views.
5. Travellers that got a Machu Picchu / Huayna Picchu Mountain combo ticket have to complete their hike within 4 hours or less
Here is the list of things you are no longer allowed to bring in the citadel
- No umbrellas in order to mitigate the damage
- No food or drinks except water
- No baby strolls
- No poles or walking sticks – unless the visitor has special needs
- No bags lager than 15 x 13 x 8 inches and that exceeds 5kg
- No shoes with heels or spiky soles
- No drones
- No tripods – unless you have a permit
- No sprays or paints
- No banners or posters
- No clothing for advertising purposes
- No musical instruments or speakers
- No illegal substances
- No alcoholic drinks
Suggestions for future visits
In order to help mitigate the damages to the Machu Picchu and help maintain this amazing archeological site here are some of my suggestions of things you can do for your trip.
Choose to come during the low wet season especially if you are not planning to do trekking. The low season is in October and April. The best periods to go during the low season is either between March and April, or between October and November because they have the lower number of tourists and the better weather of the low season.
Stay in Aguas Calientes overnight before going to the Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes is the little town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Staying there overnight will allow you to make the ascent earlier and make you avoid the tourist busses that usually come around 8 and 9 a.m.
Try to visit the Machu Picchu during the quieter times. The most quiet times to visit the Machu Picchu before being surrounded by people is either very early between 6 am and 8 am or near the closing time around 5pm.
Alternatives to Machu Picchu
There are other alternatives to the Machu Picchu if you still want to visit archeological sites in Peru. Head up north of Peru to the Chachapoyas region.
There is the Kuelap Archeological Site located in the north of Chachapoyas, north of Peru.
Or there is the Warriors of the Cloud Site built in the 6th Century which is bigger and located higher than the Machu Picchu. Read more about it here !
For more information about the regulations, check out the official ticketing website here