Changes Are Coming to Machu Picchu

Changes Are Coming to Machu Picchu

Last month, I was lucky enough to cross a destination off of my bucket list: Machu Picchu.

new machu picchu rules july 2017

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my experience at Machu Picchu was very different from what most tourists will experience after me. You see, a new set of strict rules will be in effect starting July 1, 2017.

The New Rules:

There are three major changes that will affect your visit, plus a laundry list of prohibited items/activities.

The first major change requires that a licensed guide accompany all visitors entering Machu Picchu. Guide-led groups will consist of no more than 16 people.

We used a guide when we went to Machu Picchu and we were glad we did. There were so many things that we would not have noticed or understood without him. (Signage at Machu Picchu is almost non-existent.) For instance, take a look at this photo:

machu picchu guide new rules july 2017

Our guide had previously told us that the stones the Incas used to build were perfectly smooth and straight for buildings of special importance, such as temples and the king’s residence. Here, he is showing us the back wall of a temple and a connecting priest’s quarters. The stones on the far left side of the picture (the temple) are very smooth, flat, and straight. However, as the wall progresses to the right (priest’s quarters), the stones become more roughly hewn.

Would we have known that without our guide? No way. We probably wouldn’t have even noticed. So I think that having a guide will add to the Machu Picchu experience in a beneficial way. I don’t know if the Peruvian government will pay the guides, or if visitors will have to pay them. Either way, I’m sure you can expect the expense of visiting Machu Picchu to increase. We paid our guide 35 soles (about $10) per person for a group of eight.

The second major change is that admission to the site will be split into two time frames: morning (6:00 AM to 12:00 noon) or afternoon (12:00 noon to 5:30 PM). That doesn’t seem too bad until you learn that you must enter and leave the site within the same time frame. If you have morning tickets and you don’t get there until 11:00 AM, you will have just one hour to see Machu Picchu before you are escorted from the premises. But that’s not all. Once you go through the exit, you cannot re-enter. This could present a problem for anyone in need of a rest room, as those facilities are located outside the site.

The third major change is that the site will have clearly defined tour routes, and you will have to choose which route you want to take when you book your ticket. Route 1 is the physically demanding classic route, which takes in the upper sector of the citadel, before heading in a large loop around to the lower-sector. Routes 2 & 3 go through the mid and lower-sectors, and are more suitable for those who want a more relaxing visit.

Visitors who wish to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain now have set entrance times as well. Those wishing to climb Huayna Picchu must be at the trail head between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM or between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Those wishing to climb Machu Picchu Mountain must be present at the trail head between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM or between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM.

Prohibited at Machu Picchu:

The following items will be prohibited at Machu Picchu after July 1, 2017:

  • Bags/backpacks larger than 40 x 35 x 20 cm (15.7 x 13.7 x 7.9”). You will have to check larger items at the entrance for a small fee.
  • Food and/or beverages of any type, alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
  • Umbrellas or sun shades. (You may, however, wear hats and ponchos or rain coats.)
  • Photographic tripods or any type of camera stand/support. This is only permitted with pre-authorization and an appropriate permit.
  • Musical instruments, including megaphones and speakers.
  • Shoes with high-heels or hard soles. Shoes with soft soles (like those found on tennis shoes or walking shoes/boots) are allowed.
  • Children’s strollers. Only strap on baby/child carriers are permitted.
  • Walking sticks with a metal or hard point. Elderly people and physically handicapped people may use a walking stick provided that it has a rubber tip.

Some actions are prohibited, too.  As of July 1, 2017, you may not:

  • Climb or lean on walls or any part of the citadel.
  • Touch, move or remove any stone items / structures.
  • Make loud noises, applaud, shout, whistle and sing.
  • Smoke or use an electronic cigarette.
  • Feed the resident or wild animals.
  • Paraglide or fly any type of drone or small aircraft.

If you keep these regulations in mind when planning your trip, you will not find any unpleasant surprises once you get to Machu Picchu.

Wondering what a visit to Machu Picchu is like?  Click here to read about our experience!

5 Replies to “Changes Are Coming to Machu Picchu”

  1. Wow this is really interesting and very different to my experience back in 2012. I am glad to see it’s being done to preserve the site, makes perfect sense 🙂

    1. That was the main reason for the rule change – tourism there has exploded in recent years and even though there is a cap on how many people can be admitted per day, that number is routinely exceeded.

  2. I’m 55 and plan on bringing walking sticks with rubber tips for a four day hike. Will I have trouble using these or what is considered elderly?

    1. I don’t know for certain, Linda, but I think that you’ll be fine as long as it has a rubber tip. The intention, I believe, is to prevent items like walking sticks from damaging the walkways and stones, which get so much traffic every day.

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