On Thursday April 27, 2017, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced the new entrance rules for visiting Machu Picchu. The new Ministerial Resolution No. 070-2007-MC, was first published in February 21, 2017, in the El Peruano, a newspaper which is used by the government to publish changes to the law. These new laws will affect all visitors to Machu Picchu that are visiting the Inca citadel from July 01, 2017 onward.
I first wrote about possible changes to entrance rules to Machu Picchu back in March 2014, so these new rules are not entirely unexpected, but only now are the specific details becoming clear. The complete Ministerial Resolution No. 070-2007-MC is a very long legal document written in Spanish, which reflects changes to visiting hours, how guides must operate within the site, the circuits which tourist must follow though the site and reconfirmation general entrance rules. Therefore, I have sifted through the Ministerial Resolution, and below I have highlighted the main items that will affect foreign visitors to Machu Picchu.
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Getting from Lima to Machu Picchu
Before getting to Machu Picchu there are some crucial things for travellers to be aware of. Altitude sickness among the most important. Many travellers dream of visiting the UNESCO world heritage site for years before arriving to Peru only to be completely set back by the effects of altitude once arriving to Cusco. For some, being at a high altitude only results in shortness of breath and a mild headache. However, others get symptoms much worse and can be bedridden for hours even days. Altitude sickness can be a terribly serious issue and even life threatening so should be dealt with accordingly.
The ultimate way to acclimatize to altitude is to ascend progressively by bus rather than getting a flight. It is recommended to take a 24 hour break at every 2000ft to adjust properly. If going from Cusco to Lima we highly suggest travellers follow Peru Hop‘s route along the coast to Cusco. This route ascends gradually which will give you some important time to acclimatise to the thinner air and help prevent any issues when visiting the Machu Picchu.
When Machu Picchu was first given the UNESCO World Heritage status back on Dec 09, 1983, the Inca Citadel was fairly unknown to the world. Since then, tourism has grown year on year, and now the site receives an unprecedented numbers of visitors per day. Before this new law, general entrance tickets were limited to 2,500 per day, and on some peak days of the year, this number actually sold out. The reality however, is that the amount of people visiting Machu Picchu per day is much more than 2,500, when you consider the various combinations of ticket types available (actually around 3,800 entrances). The new rules have been 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, if you read between the lines, the new rules now actually allow for a greater number of visitors per day at 5,940. Mad!
Split Entrance Times
From July 01, 2017, and for a period of 2 years, entrance tickets to Machu Picchu will be split into 2 entrance times.
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AM Entrance, from 6 am – 12 pm.
PM Entrance, from 12 pm – 5.30 pm.
Visitors must leave the site within the time frame stated, and cannot re-enter once visitors have left the site. Visitors and guides who don’t enter and leave within the time frame stated, will be assisted to the exit by the competent authorities! You have been warned.
Entry with Official Guide Only
This is probably the most significant rule. From July 01, 2017 onward, all visitors entering Machu Picchu must be accompanied by a guide. Guides must be official Machu Picchu guides or licensed tourist guides. They must present an up-to-date and valid guide identification on entering Machu Picchu. 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. However it is important to pick your guide carefully. Some guides have been known to cut circuits in order to decrease tour time and maximise daily group quantity. To avoid this, we recommend choosing tour guides from reliable operators such as those on FindLocalTrips.com.
How guides will accompany visitors hiking Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain is fairly unclear. I shall try to define this over the coming days.
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The new rules define 3 circuits which visitors to Machu Picchu must abide by. The route that you take will be defined when purchasing the ticket (make sure you buy the correct ticket). Each circuit takes an average 2h 30 mins 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 route, and 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, and are more suitable for those who want a more relaxing visit. At the end of this article we have included layouts of the new circuits (as published by the Ministry of Culture).
Huayna Picchu Mountain
Entrance to Huayna Picchu Mountain is permitted in two distinct entrance windows. You must present yourself at the trail head at the time shown below to gain entrance. Note: This ticket is a combination ticket with the general Machu Picchu entrance ticket.
First entrance: 7 am – 8 am.
Second entrance: 10 am – 11 am.
The visitor must sign in and out of the trek at the control post, at the start of the trail head. The new law states that the time 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). This technically means that you could enter Huayna Picchu at 11 am, and leave Machu Picchu at 3pm.
Entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain is permitted in two distinct entrance windows. You must present yourself at the trail head at the time shown below to gain entrance. Note: This ticket is a combination ticket with the general Machu Picchu entrance ticket.
First entrance: 7 am – 8 am.
Second entrance: 9 am – 10 am.
Visitors must sign in and out of the trek at the control post, at the start of the trail head. The new law states that the time to complete the trek is approximately 4 hours. All visitors must have left the trek by 3pm. It seems to me, that this might well be the best ticket to buy as this will allow you much more extended time in Machu Picchu, then the standard ticket, especially when you consider that the ticket costs about US$ 7 per person more.
The new rules also prohibit re-entrance to Machu Picchu, meaning once you enter, if you leave you are not allowed to return. They do include a stipulation in the new rules, which allow re-entrance for special circumstances. At the moment, the only toilets at Machu Picchu are located on the outside of the park, so until a solution is found to solve this problem, I think that this is a fairly good “special circumstance.”
Rules of Machu Picchu
As set out in Article 19 of the Ministerial Resolution, here are the general visitor rules for Machu Picchu (I have only included the important ones):
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. (my favourite, and this had happened on more than one occasion) 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 tranquillity 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, fly any type of drone or small aircraft.
Further Changes to Come
In the new Ministerial Resolution No. 070-2007-MC, there is also a tiny section towards the end, which stipulates that these new rules will be re-defined again in 2 years’ time, with a possible implementation of 3 distinct entrance times, among other changes. Watch this space.
If you want to read the full document, you can find it by clicking here (document in Spanish). To browse some options of tours to climb Machu Picchu click here.