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New rules for visiting Machu Picchu. Government looking to limit tourist numbers

Peru’s government is looking to limit the number of tourists that reach the historic Machu Picchu site. New schedules and rules are being put in place in order to avoid overcrowding and protect that site that has been listed as endangered by UNESCO. 

Starting July 1, visitors will have to purchase tickets that will establish the entry periods for this site.

The government decided for two entry periods: the first one will run from 06:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the second from 12:00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.


Tourists will also have to use a tour guide if they want to visit the site and guides will be able to take groups of maximum 16 people. The guides will deliver a ticket that will serve tourists who wish to re-enter Machu Picchu the next day to be shown at the entrance of the citadel.


It should be noted that tickets that have been booked and purchased until May 2 for the July, August, Septembre, and December will not have these restrictions.

Last year, UNESCO, which has listed Machu Picchu as a World Heritage Site, put the Inca sanctuary on the list of endangered sites. Peru and UNESCO decided to limit the number of people that can hike to the Inca site to 2,500. Some critics of the new decision say that the new schedule could actually drive up the number of visitors.

The government highlighted that the program is subject to change and after the initial introduction, the effectiveness of the new rules will be evaluated and changes will be made if needed.


Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. It has been called the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. The mixed World Heritage property covers 32,592 hectares of mountain slopes, peaks and valleys surrounding its heart, the spectacular archaeological monument of “La Ciudadela”.

The approximately 200 structures making up this outstanding religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural centre are set on a steep ridge, crisscrossed by stone terraces. Following a rigorous plan, the city is divided into a lower and upper part, separating the farming areas from residential areas, with a large square between the two. To this day, many of Machu Picchu’s mysteries remain unresolved, including the exact role it may have played in the Incas’ sophisticated understanding of astronomy and domestication of wild plant species.


The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna which is under threat by logging, firewood and commercial plant collection, poor waste management, poaching, agricultural encroachment and water pollution.


The historic site is also in danger given its position, at high altitudes, which makes it vulnerable to natural disasters.

Peru is not the only country looking to drive down tourist numbers at highly visited sites. Italy is trying to put in place similar legislation in order to protect such historic places like Venice’s San Marco Square and Pompeii.

Sylvia Jacob