The state-owned Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is an incredibly popular tourist destination, and all those crowds could have a major impact on the historic site if not regulated properly. To lessen the cultural and ecological impacts of tourism on the UNESCO World Heritage site, and decongest the crowds, Peru’s government is implementing significant changes to the visitation practices that travelers to the magnificent 15th-century Inca complex should be aware of before planning their trek.
Changes starting in 2019
New Machu Picchu entrance times
As of January 1, 2019, entrance to Machu Picchu will rely on a schedule comprised of three shifts:
- First shift: 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM
- Second shift: 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- Third shift: 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Note that visitors can only enter at the top of the hour (6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, etc.) and that they are allotted a maximum of four hours from the time they enter. If you bought a 6:00 AM ticket and show up at 8:00 AM, you won’t be allowed in. Closing time remains the same as before, i.e. 5:30 PM.
Only 2,500 people are permitted through general entrance daily. 500 additional people are permitted through the Inca Trail permit.
Since July 1, 2017, visitors need to be accompanied by a certified guide (leading no more than 16 participants) to gain entrance to Machu Picchu. Although this rule was not always enforced in the past, it will be imposed and monitored in 2019.
Starting in 2019, visitors will need to choose between hiking Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. If you want to hike both, you will need to do so on different days and purchase a second ticket.
There will be no change to the number of people permitted entrance to Huayna Picchu at 400 people per day, with 200 in the 7:00 AM group and 200 in the 10:00 AM group. However, the number of people permitted entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain has been reduced from 800 per day to 400 starting on January 1, 2019. There will be 200 permitted in the 7:00 AM group and 200 permitted in the 9:00 AM group.
An official tour guide is required to enter the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu hikes.
New waste restrictions
Starting in 2019, packaged lunches will not be permitted inside the Machu Picchu grounds. Small snacks are still allowed inside, however. Additionally, non-reusable water bottles will no longer be permitted inside either. Make sure that any water container that you want to bring with you to Machu Picchu or one of the other hikes is a reusable container.
Machu Picchu is now wheelchair accessible.
Wheel the World is a travel company that has developed the first wheelchair accessible tours of Machu Picchu. It provides special wheelchairs that can handle the rough terrains to those with limited mobility who want to access the site. Wheel the World currently offers two tours to the Inca citadel: A one-day Machu Picchu visit for $990 and a three-to-six day Cusco and Machu Picchu tour for $1,490.
Changes coming in 2020
In 2020, there will likely be a price difference depending on the time of day you want to enter Machu Picchu. Currently, the price is the same no matter which entrance shift you choose; however, it is expected that next year, the earlier, more popular morning shifts will have a higher price and the later shifts will be cheaper to help spread the flow of visitors more evenly throughout the day.