It’s no secret that Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan citadel in Peru’s Sacred Valley, sees a flood of selfie stick-toting tourists every year. With so much foot traffic, concerns around the preservation of the UNESCO World Heritage site have understandably been raised. So, in an attempt to curb tourism to the site, the Peruvian government instituted a 2,500 daily tourist cap a few years ago. Access to the popular Inca Trail, a four-day trek that ends at Machu Picchu, was also limited to 500 permits per day. Despite these constraints, however, 2016 saw a record 1.4 million visitors (exceeding the 2,500 daily limit). Now, it seems like new restrictions are being put into place.
Starting July 1, visitors to Machu Picchu will be required to enter with an official tour guide. Groups will be limited to 16 people. Tickets will also grant admission for specific times in the morning (between 6 a.m. and noon) or afternoon (between noon and 5:30 p.m.) . But that’s not all. Visitors will be restricted to one of the defined routes, rather than freely wandering the ruins.
Ticket prices will remain the same, but keep in mind that visitors who wish to stay for the day will have to buy two tickets. According to The Guardian, the Peruvian government has been under pressure from UNESCO, which has threatened to add Machu Picchu to its list of world heritage sites in danger.
It’s worth noting that although the two new entry times are designed to reduce overcrowding, especially during peak season, the number of available tickets will actually increase, according to The Guardian. More than 3,000 visitors will be allowed in the morning, and more than 2,600 will be welcomed in the afternoon. The new rules will go into effect for two years, after which tweaks to the policy might be made as needed.
These new restrictions are part of a larger travel trend that’s occurring throughout the world. Other popular tourist hot spots, including Cinque Terre, Venice, and the Seychelles, have all also been imposing tourist limitations in recent years. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of off-the-beaten path, but equally exciting, experiences worth checking out in Peru. They’re some of the best-kept secrets around — well, for now.
Check out our full travel guide to Machu Picchu.
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