Machu Picchu Ticket Changes: Half Day is Still Better than None
All entry tickets to Machu Picchu purchased after July 1, 2017 are for half-day. Tickets can be purchased on the official Peruvian government website.
(This page was updated Nov 22)
3 Tickets to choose from:
- Machu Picchu (morning shift from 6 am - 12 Noon)
- Machu Picchu Segundo Turno (or "2do turno" if you look under the "RESERVAS" tab, will be the 2nd shift from 12 Noon - 5:30 pm)
- Vespertino (afternoon) tickets are 100/s. per adult for entry at 13:00 (about $32 USD)
The cost of half-day tickets is the same whether it's AM or PM entry. S/. 152.00 Adults ($47.50 USD based on 3.2 conversion rate).
TIP: if you plan to visit afternoon, Vespertino tickets are 52/s. cheaper if you don't mind entering 1 pm. Park hours have been extended to 5:30 pm daily.
(there are 2 options now for afternoon tickets: segundo turno from 12-5:30 pm for 152/s. and vespertino from 1-5:30 pm for 100/s.)
What is the biggest obstacle to getting in to Machu Picchu?
It's not what you would think. The biggest obstacle to reaching the main entry at Machu Picchu is waiting to board the shuttle buses in Aguas Calientes. The wait time can be 1-2 hours. People are getting in line as early as 3 am. With the new half-day entry tickets, the number of visitors per day has more than doubled. (It went from 2500 per day to 3200 AM + 3200 PM. Not including hikers and "Vespertino" tickets.) No one paid attention to how the extra visitors would be transported back and forth between Aguas Calientes and the main entry. The government has confirmed that they will not bring in new buses because of the environmental impact! For people who are buying tickets to do the early hikes at Huayna or MP Mountain, you should be prepared to get in line for shuttle buses at 4 am so you get to your hike in time. You don't have to buy roundtrip bus tickets. You can choose to buy 1 way bus tickets and take the bus up and walk back. (average 1.5-2 hours)
I noticed that in July and August almost 100% of the available morning tickets sold out. However there were very few days where afternoon tickets sold out. I confirmed with our guides in Cusco that there are fewer people in the ruins during the afternoons and the waiting line for the shuttle buses can be shorter in both directions.
Since the changes to the half day entry tickets on July 1, here's a general idea of how long you might need to wait for shuttle buses regardless of the day of the week. It's possible these times will fluctuate.
Going up from Aguas Calientes to main entry of Machu Picchu:
- Early AM - long lines 1-2 hours / 4:30 - 6:30 am is busiest. From 6:30-7:30 the line is shorter, maybe 45 minutes. Then the train arrives and the line gets long.
- Late AM - short lines less than 30 minutes
- Mid-day - short lines less than 30 minutes
Coming down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes:
- Mid-day - short lines less than 30 minutes
- Mid afternoon - long lines 1-2 hours
- Late afternoon - short lines less than 30 minutes
- All Machu Picchu tickets purchased for entry after July 1 will be for half-day only.
- Tickets for Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain hikes after July 1 can still purchased if places are available.
- We have been told that visitors with tickets to hike Huayna Picchu and MP Mountain after July 1, may be allowed up to 6 and 7 hours respectively, to complete the hikes and still have time for guided tours of the ruins.
What you need to know:
- Senior discount tickets are not being honored although the new rules clearly state that over age 60 is entitled to 50% reduced rate
- It is possible for visitors after July 1 to buy morning and afternoon tickets for the same day if they want to pay for two entries. You may need to exit and re-enter.
- Vespertino (afternoon) tickets are available for 100/s. per adult for entry at 13:00 and can be combined with morning tickets. You will need to exit and re-enter.
- Visitors can save 52/s. per adult by purchasing Vespertino instead of 2nd shift. As long as you don't mind entering at 13:00 hours.
- Hikers who enter from the Inca Trail will have access to the ruins for half day with a limit up to 2 visits. This includes 2nd day of the easy 1-day hike.
- Perurail has added few more morning trains from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo Station)
- Guide service is required for the initial entry. (but is not enforced at this time) For full details, follow this link.
- 3267 is the maximum number of visitors allowed for each shift (increased from 2500 per day prior to July 1)
- 1000 is the maximum number allowed for Vespertino entry at 13:00 hours
What you need to be prepared for:
- The only restrooms are located outside the main entry. It will be necessary to allow people to exit and re-enter to use the restroom.
- Tri-pods, backpacks, food and drinks have always been restricted, but not enforced. They may begin enforcing those rules now.
- PeruRail service has added 1 more train at 8:30 AM. At mid-day there is potential for congestion. Check availability for trains before you buy your entry tickets
- Additional time to board shuttle buses in Aguas Calientes. (the ride is 25 minutes each way)
The reason for the changes are to (allegedly) improve the experience of the visitor as well as to protect and preserve the treasure of the Peruvian people.
However it seems to me that without more shuttle buses, the experience of getting to and from Machu Picchu main entry will be more frustrating. And I'm stunned that the Peruvian government believes they can double the number of visitors per day and still protect the citadel.
Visitors now are limited to 2 entries per day and must follow marked routes. (see our blog about "Mucho Changes at Machu Picchu")
I believe these changes will improve the logistics for the 1-day Machu Picchu Guided Tour beginning and ending in Cusco. No more getting up at 3 am. By purchasing afternoon tickets, the goal will be to spend the morning getting to Aguas Calientes where you have time for quick lunch then head up to the ruins for the afternoon. And return to Cusco on the evening train.
Meanwhile, rumor has it that 4-day Inca Trail hike permits for 2018 might go on sale in October!