Everyone wants to cross Machu Picchu of their bucket list. After all, it’s one of the most stunning new world wonders. But all of that popularity has led UNESCO to change the landmark’s entrance rules. If you plan on visiting Machu Picchu during your future travels, make sure you’re prepared with Machu Picchu’s new entrance regulations.
Up until now, tourists were allowed to visit Machu Picchu with all of the selfie sticks and endless sun block their little heart’s desired. Tourists could spend all day at Machu Picchu getting in touch with Pachamama (aka “Mother Earth”) and taking adorable selfies with llamas.
Alas, so many tourists in a single place isn’t sustainable.
As an UNESCO World Heritage since December 9th, 1983, Machu Picchu entrance tickets were limited to 2,500 per day. However, daily visitors far exceed that number with ticket sales showing closer to 4,000 entrances per day!
The citadel was originally meant for a population of 1,000 individuals max during its original construction, Machu Picchu is seeing some serious damage due to the large amount of visitors. Therefore, UNESCO has decided to create Machu Picchu’s new entrance regulations in an attempt to save and restore the site.
As of July 2017, you need to:
1. Book your tour within two time slots: AM Entrance, from 6 am-12 pm or PM Entrance, from 12 pm-5:30 pm. Visitors must leave the site within the time frame stated and cannot re-enter after leaving the site.
2. Book your tour with a guide. These 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. Furthermore, guides are only permitted to take a maximum of 16 people on their tour, sign in and sign out all visitors in the group, and inform visitors of the regulations of the park.
3. Follow a particular circuit or route. There are 3 circuits visitors must take, each defined when purchasing your ticket. Each circuit takes 2.5-3 hours to complete. Circuit 1 is the route you probably see when looking at Machu Picchu pictures, but is a lot more challenging physically. Circuits 2 and 3 are on the lower and middle sectors and are for a more relaxing visit.
Luckily, we traveled to Machu Picchu about 1 week before this deadline. However we managed to get a taste of this new experience with our tour we booked via Trip Advisor.
The process of booking our tour was incredibly easy. We simply went to TripAdvisor.com and searched for the best tours available at Machu Picchu. Once we found our ideal tour company, we picked our dates, added it to the cart and paid! Easy peezy!
After scouring reviews, prices and ideal itineraries, we settled on Viajes Pacifico for our Machu Picchu tour. Our tour included:
Roundtrip bus tickets to and from our hotel to the train station
Roundtrip train tickets to and from Agua Calientes via the Expedition train
Roundtrip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to the top of Machu Picchu
Entrance tickets into Machu Picchu
An English-speaking tour guide
All in all, it cost us $348 per person (without gratuity) and can be booked here!
At first, when we found out we would only spend about 3 hours inside Machu Picchu, we were a little bummed. But then we realized how long the actual commuting time was and that we were in for a FULL DAY. Since we were coming from Cusco and not Aguas Calientes, it was the best itinerary for us.
Our itinerary was as follows:
5:10 am Get picked up by the bus and pick up other members of the tour
6:15 am Arrive at the Poroy Train Station
6:40 am Depart for Aguas Calientes
9:40 am Arrive at the AC Train Station
10:15 am Take the bus to the top of Machu Picchu
10:45 am Arrive at the Machu Picchu entrance
11:10 am Enter Machu Picchu and begin tour
2:00 pm Leave Machu Picchu site
2:30 pm Take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes
3:40 pm Take the train back to Poroy
6:45 pm Arrive at Poroy Station
7:00 pm Meet the bus to take us back to Cusco
7:45 pm Home
As you can see, any additional time inside Machu Picchu would have made our day incredibly long and exhausting.
The tour was perfect for two wanderers who didn’t know what we were doing. I haven’t done many tours in my traveling career, but this was a great place to start! Providing all of the transportation and tickets made it so convenient. And since my husband is a major history junkie, he absolutely loved all of the priceless information we learned from our guide.
(Side note, Incans are CRAZY smart. I don’t think a group of indigenous people have ever made me feel so dumb.)
If you’re looking to find a tour company that can help you with Machu Picchu’s new entrance regulations, I highly recommend taking a look at Trip Advisor to see which tour would work best with your schedule and travel plans!
However, here are some additional tips when choosing the right tour:
The larger the tour, the less flexible the experience. Since the guide is watching so many individuals, schedules and bathroom breaks, you may not have time to go to certain spots you wish to see. Make sure you try to pick a smaller group so you have more flexibility.
If you want more time at Machu Picchu, stay overnight at Aguas Calientes 1-2 nights. Otherwise, the roundtrip train ride that takes 6 hours total will eat into your touring time.
Do some research about what is most important to you. I didn’t realize our tour was located toward the bottom 2 circuits, since I was expecting circuit 1. Ask yourself, “Do I want that iconic picture? Do I want to see llamas? Am I more interested in the history of the Incans?” Answering those questions will help define what kind of tour you should take.