Big Shake-up to Machu Picchu Rules coming 1 June 2024

New rules and routes have been announced for Peru’s most famous visitor site – Machu Picchu. And, most people probably aren’t going to like them!

Find out what this means for tourism at the World Wonder and your future trip…

The glorious sight of Machu Picchu in the early morning, blue skies are overhead and the ruins sit on a mountaintop

What Are the New Rules for Machu Picchu?

Increased Visitor Numbers

Visitor numbers have been growing year on year. In 2023, there were 4500 tickets available each day.

Now, this will be 5600 in the high season from 1 June to 15 October 2024, as well as 30 and 31 December.

One thing’s certain, Machu Picchu will be busier than ever this summer!

New Routes

It wasn’t that long ago that routes around the ruins of the Inca site were introduced. And with them, a one-way system that’s been pretty strictly enforced.

But now, it’s all change. Three routes will replace the current 4 routes (2 around the upper part and 2 around the lower part).

And if it wasn’t already bad enough that only 2 routes gave you the postcard-perfect viewpoint over the ruins below. Now only 1 will

The new routes are:

  • Circuit 1, Panoramic Route
  • Circuit 2, Classic Machu Picchu Route
  • Circuit 3, Royals Route

Exact mapping of these 3 new routes hasn’t been released yet. And there are no absolute equivalents between the old and new routes.

Looking over Machu Picchu from the inferior viewing platform with mountains in the background.

Changes for Existing Ticket Holders

What’s more, if you have a ticket from 1 June 2024 onwards (excludes Inca Trail), you’ll need to choose a new route according to availability! That’s just 2.5 weeks’ notice for some people…

Here’s what options you’ll have:

Old circuitNew circuit
Circuit 1 or 2 (including Inca Bridge tickets)Either,
Circuit 2A (designed route) or 2B (lower terrace route),
or,
Circuit 3 (3B only, designed route)
Circuit 3 (including Machu Picchu Mountain tickets)Either:
Circuit 1 (or 1A for the Machu Picchu Mountain route),
or,
Circuit 3 (3B only, designed route)
Circuit 4 (including Wayna Picchu tickets)Circuit 3A (circuit 3 plus access to Wayna Picchu)
Circuit 4 (including Huchuy Picchu tickets)Either,
Circuit 3B (designed route),
or,
Circuit 3D (with access to Huchuy Picchu)

Looking for the most incredible view of Machu Picchu? Then you have to climb Machu Picchu Mountain – the view is sensational!

Enforcing Entry Times

Monitoring of entry times is currently pretty relaxed. But not anymore…

Now, you’ll have to enter the site within 30 minutes during the low season and within 45 minutes during the high season.

Based on the dates above for increased visitor numbers, we assume high season dates are 1 June to 15 October and 30-31 December 2024. 16 October to 29 December is low season.

Will this make some people question whether to take the steps up from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu? The only other option is a 12 USD each-way bus…

Either way, it’s never been more important to make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Could you imagine missing out on a world wonder because you overslept or service was slow in a restaurant?!

Early morning mist hangs in between the mountains around the Inca Site, the golden sun hits the ruins and wispy clouds fill the sky.

When do the New Rules Come Into Effect?

These rules are set to come into force on 1 June 2024, once they’ve been ratified by the authorities.

With the exception of those who have tickets any time in 2024 for the Inca Trail. Those people will still get the same route as is on their ticket currently.

What About 2025 and Beyond?

Well isn’t that the question on everyone’s mind! This news has been quite a shock – although unsurprising – to many. Particularly as it’s been announced on 13 May, giving just 18 days notice.

The amendments to the laws of Machu Picchu are only for 2024 – currently. Permanent changes or those that carry through 2025 are, ultimately, likely to follow soon.

A close up of one section of the ruins with groups of people admiring the site. Machu Picchu's new rules will make the site even busier during the already busy high season

What do The New Machu Picchu Rules Mean for Tourism?

Quite frankly, this will make visitors’ experiences worse. But it’ll make more money.

Not Seeing the Viewpoint Takes Away Some Machu Picchu Magic

People who visit Machu Picchu generally want to see the whole site, including the best view. And they don’t want it overcrowded with queues of people snaking around the site.

But now, two-thirds of visitors won’t get to take in the magnificent sight from the main viewpoint. And it’s going to be busier than ever. As there’ll be fewer routes that people get split across.

6 am Slots will be the Golden Ticket

It’s never been more important to book a ticket with an early entrance time. 6 or 7 am is the best time to visit Machu Picchu.

This is because there’s only so many tickets per hour. So at 6 am, 700 people enter. Then at 7 am, another 700 people enter – taking the total to 1400. Then another 700 at 8 am making the total now 2100…

Generally, people only spend 3 or 4 hours in the site, so it plateaus off. But visiting at 6 am means 699 other guests versus possibly 2799 other visitors after 9 am.

Can the Infrastructure Handle the Visitors?

It’s already hard enough to get to Machu Picchu since there’s no roads in or out. And now, with an extra 1000 ticket holders making that journey each day, getting a seat on a train or a bus will be more challenging.

Even at the current capacity, train and bus tickets sell out in advance. It remains to be seen whether more trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu or buses to Hidroelectrica will be run.

But quite frankly, the authorities will need to do something. Because how else will ticket holders get there?

Yet the problem isn’t just in getting tourists there. Capacity of the buses from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu will need to increase. And demand for hotel rooms may exceed the current capacity.

Expect Out of Date Information For a While

Websites, travel books, leaflets and even tour agencies and travel agents will need time to catch up on the changes. Some still haven’t been updated to reflect the introduction of hourly slots in 2021.

The Peruvian authorities are launching a new website where you’ll be able to buy tickets for Machu Picchu – and I assume find other important information. But it’s not yet live [editor’s note: will add once available].

It’s not all Doom and Gloom

Yes, these changes aren’t great. And we’d probably all prefer to see changes that protect the precarious environment in jeopardy from over-tourism.

But, Machu Picchu is still one of the most majestic places in the world. It’s not a World Wonder for nothing.

You’ll walk in the footsteps of Incas, people who not that many centuries ago carried and laid all this stone to create an astounding mountain-top city and routes around it.

Stay overnight. Book the 6 am ticket. You won’t regret it.

Looking over the ruins of Machu Picchu, surrounded by tree-covered mountains with a morning glow

How have people taken the News?

The news has only just been released and there’s not much coverage outside of travel agencies in Peru spreading the news. But, looking at social media, the Machu Picchu rule changes are pretty unpopular. And confusion is rife amongst current ticket holders as to what their Machu Picchu experience is going to entail.

We’ll add more reaction as we get it.


SOURCE: gob.pe (Spanish)

Information is correct as of May 2024 but is subject to change in future.


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How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu (via Aguas Calientes)

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