Machu Picchu: New 2014 Entrance Rules Will Restrict How Foreigners Visit the Ancient Citadel
March 27, 2014
New proposed regulations for visitors to Machu Picchu could mean that soon they will need to hire an official guide to enter the Inca citadel, face time restrictions at specific points of interest around the site and remain within three predetermined trails around the citadel.
Following the appointment of the new Regional Director of Culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, proposed new rules are aimed to be implemented sometime in 2014 and could change how visitors are allowed to access Machu Picchu. In a draft document which was sent out for review by Peru’s prominent travel organizations; some of the new proposed rules include:
Not allowing visitors to leave an organized tour group to join another.
Limit explanation times by guides to 3-5 minutes at the Temple of the Sun, the lookout point of the Temple of the Sun, the Casa del Inca, the Botanical Garden, the site of the Reflecting Pools and the Temple of the Condor.
Carrying canes of any kind, except as needed for age, physical disability or injury.
Leaning against or rubbing your hands or body against the walls and stone elements.
Wearing appropriate shoes or boots that do not erode or affect the archaeological and natural heritage. Only shoes with soft rubber soles may be used.
Climbing and touching the walls and other structures of the Inca citadel.
Changing attire, clothing and garments within the Inca citadel (Inca Trail hikers beware).
Bringing in or using large umbrellas during the rainy season.
Growing Pressure from UNESCO
At the 2013 meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Peru’s government came under increased pressure to act on many of the outstanding issues previously highlighted by the committee. Criticism was drawn at the lack of action on improving visitor flow and limiting visitor numbers at Machu Picchu, improving urban planning and building codes in Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calietnes) and the lack of decisive action to implement emergency action plans drawn up in 2009.
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The UNESCO Committee strengthened its stance by requesting that all changes needed to be implemented before their 2015 meeting, or they would consider placing Machu Picchu on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
At the moment it is worth noting that nothing has changed, and until the Ministry of Culture actually makes an official announcement, everything will continue as normal.
With the implementation of Ricardo Ruiz Caro, the new Regional Director of Culture taking his seat in office, it seems that stronger strides forward are being attempted as he tries to stamp his authority on what needs to be done. Caro stated in a telephone interview with Peru Times (an online news website), that he hopes the new rules are implemented within the next 2 months, i.e. before June 2014.
For Independent travelers and budget travelers hoping to visit Machu Picchu without a guide, this will no longer be possible. It will mean the additional cost of hiring a local guide (currently US$ 50 for 2 people), less freedom to move around the site and inevitably less time at Machu Picchu.
Those on a pre-arranged Peru vacation packages, not much will really change. It will mean that after your 2 hours (or so) guided tour, you will need to leave Machu Picchu or potentially hire the services of another guide to re-enter.
For sure there is a need for new controls on the amount of people that can visit Machu Picchu. This epic historical landmark is in clear danger to erosion and degradation due to over-exploitation by increased tourism. The Peruvian government probably doesn’t want to restrict entrance to Machu Picchu as the larger impact on overall tourism levels in Peru depend mainly on the success of Machu Picchu.
Of course ticket sales also generate huge revenues for the government too. As I look at ticket sales for today (March 27, 2014), I can see that there are still 936 tickets still available, meaning that 1,564 are in the process of visiting Machu Picchu today. If we use these numbers as an example to calculate annual revenue from tickets sales, it would generate an annual income of US$ 26.4 million (based on a standard entrance ticket at 128 Soles / US$ 46.3). That’s a lot of cash right?
Rumours of changes to entrance rules for Machu Picchu have been floating around for a long time, but little has happened until now. Change is a good thing for the longevity and preservation of one of the world’s best archaeological sites and is definitely needed. However, from experience the Peruvian government is slow to make any changes of any type, and I can’t help but feel that nothing will happen until mid-2015.
There is a stumbling block that I foresee with these changes, and that is the lack of qualified Machu Picchu guides. Will there be enough to fulfil the needs of 2,500 potential daily visitors? How with this increased demand for guided tours affect the price that guides charge?
Whatever happens, we will be sure to bring you all the latest news right here on the Only Peru Guide. Please feel free to comment on how you think these new entrance rules will affect your visit to Machu Picchu; we welcome your thoughts.