Drastic new rules coming very soon for visitors to Machu Picchu

All foreign visitors to Machu Picchu will soon have to hire an official guide to enter the Inca Citadel, follow one of three predetermined routes through the complex and face time limits at specific points to keep the traffic flowing, under new rules promulgated by the Ministry of Culture in Cusco.

Machu Picchu in early October 2013“Foreign visitors must hire the service of an official tour guide for their orderly visit to the Inca city of Machu Picchu,” says a draft copy of Regulations of Sustainable Use and Touristic Visits for the Conservation of the Inca City of Machu Picchu, obtained by Peruvian Times

Cusco’s new Regional Director of Culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, has sent copies of the document to tourism federations and pertinent institutions for review and comment.

Machu-Picchu-Master-Plan-UpdateThe new regulations “should be approved in a couple of months,” said Fernando Astete, the director of the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park.

In a telephone interview with Peruvian Times, Astete said that the new regulations are being implemented for the purpose of conservation.

“There are guides that come in and they go against the circuit, or we say no more than 20 tourists in each group, and they come with 30 or 40,” Astete said. “Everything we are doing is in order to preserve the site and prevent damage.”

UNESCO has been urging Peru to “finalize and adopt (a) public use plan … by 1 April 2014 … in line with the provisions of the Management Plan for the property, including the definition of carrying capacity for the Historic Sanctuary.”

The new rules appear aimed to to do just that.

“The entrance for visitors into the Inca city of Machu Picchu will be conducted in an orderly manner and be based on previously organized groups of at most 20 people,” the regulations state.

Stricter procedures for guides will require them to wear uniforms and clearly visible credentials. They will be limited to three established routes through the Inca Citadel and their clients will be “expressly PROHIBITED” from “leaving an organized tourist group to join another and/or divert to a different guide or person.”

Perhaps most jolting in the new regulations is the establishment of time limits of 3 to 5 minutes to stop and appreciate some of Machu Picchu’s most significant and sacred points of interest — including the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Condor, the Water Mirrors and the Temple of the Sun. The purpose is to prevent bottleneck traffic jams, the regulations say.

Built in the 15th century by the Ninth Sapa Inca Pachacutec, Machu Picchu is considered by most who come to Peru as a must-experience. For decades visitors were allowed to wander the ruins freely, with few restrictions and no time limits.

That began to change over the last three years, with the installment of arrow-marked paths, “Keep Moving” signs and park guards who blow shrill whistles when tourists stray unintentionally into increasingly restricted territory.

Claire Dean, manager of the South American Explorers Clubhouse in Cusco, said the new regulations limiting visitors to “being shepherded around by guides” will have a huge impact on the advice given to club members, who are primarily independent travelers.

“I quite often recommend to not hire a guide and to get a very good guide book,” she said. “Once this is finalized and that’s the final decision, it will be a matter of accepting the reality of it and promoting other sites that are just as interesting, if not more so in a lot of ways.”

But she added her fear that “people are not going to get the level of time that they need or want in the site, and they’re paying a lot of money to go in there.

“Obviously, Machu Picchu is the main site in the area and it is reason why many people come here,” she said. “And they’ve come a long way to see it.”

Machu Picchu Visitor Totals Graph 2013

Click on image to enlarge

Supporters of the new rules believe that poor management and overcrowding at Machu Picchu is taking an undue toll on the iconic site.

Last year, the president of the Association of Cusco Tour Agencies, publicly blasted the culture ministry for what he considered foot dragging on implementing the regulations. “It seems like they want it all to collapse,” he was quoted saying.

Since 2011, the average daily number of visitors at Machu Picchu has far exceeded the daily limit of 2,500 agreed to by Peru and UNESCO.

The number of visitors to Machu Picchu surpassed one million tourists for the first time ever in 2012, and last year topped off at nearly 1.2 million.


Highlights from new draft regulations for Machu Picchu

Article 7.3 Restriction time for explanation :
Given that the urban sector is bounded by organized sets , divided by internal roads and stairways under an Inca urban layout , it is necessary to consider the maximum of explanation in the space and / or small areas comprising the “Temple of the Sun”, the lookout point of the “Temple of the Sun, the “Casa del Inca”,  botanical garden , the site of the “reflecting pools” and the” Temple of the Condor”, with the average time limit explanation of 3-5 minutes.

Article 8. – Of the circuits :
Circuits are the paths that visitors must use to navigate and sightsee in orderly fashion in the Inca city Machu Picchu. There are three circuits, whose description is contained in Annex No. 02 of this Regulation.

Article 9 . – On the alternate routes :
Alternate routes leave from the Inca City of Machu Picchu and are intended to decentralize sightseeing. Five alternate routes are Intipunku Sector, the Inca bridge, Huayna Picchu mountain, Machu Picchu mountain, Putukusi mountain, whose descriptions and figures are given in Annex No. 03 of this Regulation.

Article 10 . – Of the sites for explantion to visitors:

The distribution of areas or explanation sites aims to achieve a better fluidity of movement of visitors through the established circuits, using signposts in the Inca city of Machu Picchu and adjacent sectors. This is to avoid “bottlenecks” or crowding of visitors and official guides in vulnerable sectors (restricted – banned), and the deterioration of space and lithic heritage in different architectural spaces as terrace platforms, floors, surfaces of wall structures, etc. The explanation points or sites for visitors, throughout the circuits and alternate routes described above and by sector, are described in Annex No. 04 of the Regulations with its descriptive map.

Article 13. – Rights of visitors:
The rights of national and foreign visitors

13.1 Access to the Inca city Machu Picchu
13.2 Contemplate and enjoy the surrounding cultural and natural heritage
13.3 Browse circuits and alternate routes
13.4 Remain for a reasonable time in the Inca city
13.5 Receive a proper and scientific explanation of the cultural significance of the city
13.6 Receive information and appropriate services

Article 14 . – Obligations of visitors :
The obligations of domestic and foreign visitors

14.1 Respect the provisions on influx capacity to the Inca city issued by the Ministry of Culture.
14.2 Make the payment for the right of entry to the Inca city.
14.3 Respect and tour the Inca city circuits, alternate routes, restricted sites and sightseeing limits established by this regulation and cultural authority.
14.4 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.
14.5 Avoid conduct prohibited by Article 19 of this regulation.

Article 19 – Prohibited Conduct
For all persons, national and foreign, who visit the Inca city of Machu Picchu, the following conduct is expressly PROHIBITED:

19.1 Carrying and consuming food and alcoholic beverages
19.2 Climbing and touching the walls and other structures of the Inca citadel.
19.3 Leaning against or rubbing your hands or body against the walls and stone elements.
19.4 Igniting flames or building camp fires.
19.5 Carrying canes of any kind, except as needed for age, physical disability or injury.
19.6 Smoking tobacco, cigarettes or any other substance.
19.7 Disturbing the flora, fauna and biodiversity.
19.8 Polluting water sources.
19.9 Writing on the ground, walls, stones, as well as the elements of natural heritage under penalty of legal sanction.
19.10 Practicing nudity and obscene acts contrary to morals and good customs.
19.11 Disposing of solid and liquid waste.
19.12 Carrying backpacks with a capacity greater than 20 liters (5 gallons) or 6 kilos (13 pounds).
19.13 Offering and selling products within the Inca citadel and the immediate surroundings, including the receiving areas for visitors and vehicles access.
19.14 Conducting fashion shows, exhibitions of swimsuit or dancing and exotic musical instruments, which distort the sacredness of the Inca citadel.
19.15 Convening social events.
19.16 Bringing in pets.
19.17 Flying over the ruins in para-gliders, helicopters or any type of aircraft.
19.18 Launching drones or any type of aircraft to take photographs, videos or movies from the air, with the only exception to this prohibition being flights solely for scientific and cultural diffusion with prior express authorization of the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco.
19.19 Using aerosol sprays that release repellents, colognes, sunblocks, or anything else.
19.20 Changing attire, clothing and garments within the Inca citadel.
19.21 Bringing in or using large umbrellas during the rainy season.
19.22 Conducting explanations in spaces or sites not determined for that purpose.
19.23 Leaving an organized tourist group to join another and/or diverting to a different guide or person.
19.24 Going beyond the physical limits of the tour of the Inca citadel.
19.25 Filming footage for the purpose of marketing consumer products.
19.26 Any heavy filming equipment.
19.27 Any act that harms the conservation of the Inca citadel and its lithic elements will incur an administrative penalty and in addition may be the subject of criminal and judicial charges.

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  1. The peruvian authorities already max out the nmbr of tickets sold per day for each 3 area. Now if they are doing this it is because they want to lift those maximum tickets sold per day. 2500 X 100$ average do the math over a year.
    250k X 365…lol

  2. Ridiculous I say. I just came back from Machu.
    Can’t change clothes on sites..funny…no eroding shoes..lol..The sites trails have been redone over 100 times by daily worker..they r hard solid compacted sand trails can’t damaged that.
    no umbrellas giganticus.. agree. I got pocked in the face by a 5 foot Chinese golf himbrella..lol. I pocked him back with finger in his eye.
    Can’t go without private guide..wow…how spiritual.
    that place has nothing spiritual left…After the spaniard, 100 million visitors and the U NESCO telling Peru how to run the aite. Forget about it.
    There are 100 s of other site as impressive as this one in the valley…they are not on tourist map yet. Those still have spiritual energy in them.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Glad I got in and out a couple years ago. I can’t imagine someone saying “enough pictures, move along” or telling me that I was only allowed 5 minutes to sit down and relax after hiking the entire day, and starting at 4am. The motive is good, but the implementation will be horrible. Only soft soled rubber shoes? I wonder if they remember that people often HIKE up.. either from AC or over the actual Inca trail. Those backpackers may be refused entry due to pack size, shoe construction, food possession, etc. Such a joke..

    • Can you explain what is a 5 foot Chinese golf himbrella?

  3. very unfortunate…..

    You need Robots to visit the Sacred Site not people….

    What was used as the model for the draft of these Restrictions,,, was it some text from a manual of the Third Reich!

    Fine,,,, keep Maccu Picchu…. there are other wonders to see…….


  4. Good luck with that. To me Machu Picchu has become the Disneyland’s of Peru and local government. Monopoly, and corruption can be spot since you get on the train in Ollantaytambo. I hope future tourists get to understand this and stop going there. And perhaps start visiting other more mystical and beautiful sites in Peru. What’s the point in helping corruption and making just a handful of people richer. Wake up.

  5. An Enlightened organization would be able to introduce crowd control in a way that was Transparent to the visitor. The visitors of many amusement park all over the world maintain a welcoming attitude that favors the pleasure of the visitor’s experience…..

    It appears now with the onset of these Rules and Regulations that the typical Peruvian “Hospitality” has gone out the door…..

    I have visited once and was planning another visit but under these circumstances I would not go again…..

    The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim and others all being far beyond the appeal of a MountainTopHuaco do not take a suspicious and negative view of their Patrons… and yes,,, a visitor is a patron of the site, no?…..

    So,,, better to be creating a positive environment than an authoritarian ” move along now,, time is up….” attitude with those who are supportive of both the cultural artifact and are putting dollar$ in your pocket.

    Looking at the rest of Peru,, it appears that the last 500 years have not boded well for this country and things have not improved over that span of time. Peru hangs on to it’s glorious past but the present is suffering…. Things are not as good as they were and That is a very sad statement of Truth !

  6. No more nacked running ??
    What a pitty!

  7. Jack Danylchuk says:

    i guess this means no more streaking

  8. nudistpersonals org says:

    nudism/naturism is partly about body acceptance, yes? No matter the size or shape, we naturists accept everyone without judgment.

  9. they are just trying to preserve Machu Picchu. I guess must of you visit the site, but that doesn’t give any authority to speak like if you know everything about Peru or Machu Picchu. This may sound like a big change, but actually is something that the ministry of culture is already doing. Didn’t you know that there is limited time to be at the Intihuatana already? Didn’t you know that the soil in Machu Picchu is sinking?
    Peru may have no progress after the spaniards, but is that only peruvians fault? Do you think peruvians like the way thins are? Don’t you think this also has to be with other countries intentions and big corporations interests?
    So please, give opinion when you are certainly aware of what is going on… Make comparisons between Machu Picchu and museums? Come on… both are important in their ways, is it Machu Picchu a product? are visitor patrons? Machu Picchu is world heritage, if a way to preserve it is to keep tourists away we will do so. Peru may have not been doing good, but we value what we had before more than money. So keep your money out of our pockets, keep it with you and travel any other place else… and please keep Machu Picchu out of your comparisons and wise advice.

  10. Unfortunate. Over legislated/regulation spoils what was a great tourist destination. So glad I was there just prior to 2000 – it was stupendous. Shame now I probably won’t take my family. Then again there are so many other sites to see in Peru. I’m sure some Peruvian schoolchildren could have come up with a better less onerous plan.

  11. I am looking at travelling to Machu Picchu, and I fully understand the reasons for bringing some order to the trail. However I am very put off by having to hire a private tour guide. I do not want one, I want to experience the tour on my own. They offer no added health and safety benefit, just a person looking to make a quick buck. Very disappointing.

  12. Is this for just foreigners? Peruvians can still go without a guide is that correct?

  13. And once again a stupid person ruins the fun for everyone.

    If someone wants to go to a landmark to die, why not let them? If I ever decide to jump off Machu Piccu I don’t want anyone to stop me.

  14. I am very glad, that my wife and I visited Machu Pichu in 1982. There were about 10 to 15 people visiting the whole site plus two llamas during the time we spent there. That was a great belated graduation gift to ourselves. But as far as changes of rules and regulations we will always see them, only to accomodate discomforted ugly tourists that tend to ruin things for themselves.

  15. How do you think a person feels who has just spend thousands of dollars to get to Peru, without even factoring in the trip to Machu Pichu? And then how he/she feels about being ordered they can only spend 3-5 minutes at each monument before herded on like cattle to the next stop, and REMEMBER, don’t touch anything. And to top it off are ripped off at every turn…starting with having to hire a guide? To hell with Peru PERIOD. At 69 years of age I’ve got better things to do on my “bucket list” than knowingly being robbed by what is nearly a 3rd world nation. There is more than enough video footage of the site at any library that will answer all I want to know and see about this site…and without someone dictating to me every step of the way. If Machu Pichu is so valuable and important to the world heritage and history…then they should close it to everyone, including the grounds keepers. This is an incredibly bad deal for the public. Suddenly Rome, Greece, Egypt, and even my own country sounds more enticing than that of Peru. Good riddens.

  16. Douglas I would like to hear more about your trip to Peru. Would you please email me?

  17. Thomas C. Bowden says:

    I went to MP in 1970. Great visit with guides. It was only part of my visit to the Sacred Valley. Why did they build so many hotels on site,etc. One train a day kept the tourists away that didn’t schedule a trip. I spent the night at MP in 1978 with my family. We had the place to ourselves until the train arrived.
    Just limit how many can enter in such a way to give room and time to experience the visit

  18. bill wallace says:

    I saw the life force in a blue morpho butterfly at the sun gate at macchu picchu in 2012. god lifted the veil from my eyes. this was just after the ceremony of the four winds. the memory still brings tears to my eyes.

  19. I think every visitor should have to take a test on the Inca’s and more specifically Machu Picchu and pass with at least a 90%! Visitors should understand what this site is all about and why it was built in order to have entrance. The beauty and the sacredness of the site needs to be preserved.

  20. Laura Jackson says:

    MP has been on my bucket list since I first heard of it years ago. It has been the # ONE place that I’ve wanted to visit, with a trip to the Galapagos afterward. After reading this, I’ve decided that pictures and videos of these places will have to suffice. There are stupid, rude, destructive, and mean people in every part of this world (just as there are wonderful, funny, caring, and giving people). Excuse me if I sound ignorant, as I don’t know much about Peru, but why don’t they have guards that stand at the various sites to talk to visitors and watch out for idiots? There should be a limit to the amount of traffic daily, that’s why reservations should be mandatory. It’s terrible that the *ssholes (and yes, EVERY RACE has them) have to ruin things for us all. I guess this place will forever be “only in my dreams”.

  21. I always wanted to go to MP, but since I am a new tourist with no prior experience, I hope I can find a way to be able to know what to do once I arrive in Cusco. Thank goodness for blog posts and Youtube! But does anyone know if there is an one day hike on the Inca trial to MP? I would like to get up early in the morning and hike there so that I can beat the crowds? Since I can’t bring my selfie stick (I wanted to bring a selfie stick so I can get the whole view of Machu Picchu behind me..), there is an alternative: Bring a attached clip on lens zoom thing that will get a hawk eye view of the whole view! One can buy it online and Taiwan (I was there recently) sells a lot of them.

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