Machu Picchu Ticket Changes: Half Day is Still Better than None
Peru government launched a new website in December 2018 with new rules for booking tickets. Tickets for entry to Machu Picchu in 2019 are now offered by the hour. Link to updated story about entry to Machu Picchu after covid-19.
(updated March 12, 2021)
Half day entry tickets to Machu Picchu will no longer be offered in 2019. This blog post may provide good background info for anyone who is interested in the evolving changes at Machu Picchu.
Want More Time to Explore Machu Picchu Ruins?
The latest change to entry tickets to Machu Picchu limits each ticket holder to one entry. If you buy tickets to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Montana you are expected to tour the citadel BEFORE you begin your hike. These hikes are offered at 2 different times during morning shift. After the hikes you will exit the park. Beware that for the 7AM hikes with 7AM entry at main gate this is an issue. Rangers have told our guides that people may have to choose between their hike or seeing the citadel. You can walk through the citadel on the way to the kiosk for Huayna Picchu as long as you're there by 8. But Montana is up above the guard shack and you don't walk through the citadel before you get to the kiosk. There's no way to tour the citadel before the hike.
We've had reports that visitors with general admission tickets have unintentionally arrived at the exit gate because they're not familiar with the layout and ended up on the one way path out. They are not allowed to return. To ensure that you see everything, it's best to hire a private guide in advance to take you around the ruins for 3-4H. This is the best strategy to gain more time to explore the ruins. Pickup guides at the main entry will not do this. They will take you in for 1-2H, then out, so they can get back to the main entry for more groups. Here's link to more info about private guide service.
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 during the busy season from April through October. People are getting in line as early as 3 am. When the half-day entry tickets were released, the number of visitors per day was more than doubled. (It went from 2500 per day to 3200 AM + 3200 PM. Not including hikers. And in 2019, the total visitors per day is up to max of 5600.) 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. The latest info is that buses will only allow you to board within 30-60 minutes of your entry time. You don't have to buy roundtrip bus tickets. You can buy 1 way bus tickets and take the bus up and walk back. (average 1-2 hours)
- All Machu Picchu tickets are for 1 entry only. (except for the 6AM and 8AM entries with hikes)
- If you leave the park for any reason, or unintentially arrive at the exit gate, you will not be allowed to re-enter.
What you need to know:
- There are no senior discounts for entry tickets
- Hikers who enter from the Inca Trail will have access to the ruins after the hike or the next morning if they choose to stay in Aguas Calientes. 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)
- New rules state that 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, 2017) As of Jan 1, 2019 this was changed to 5600 per day distributed in various amounts on the hour
- There is no limit to the amount of time you spend inside the park. But both circuits are one-way and lead to the exit gate. Once you leave the park you cannot re-enter unless you have tickets for the 7AM, 9AM or 10AM hikes.
What you need to be prepared for:
- The only restrooms are located outside the main entry. (Cost 2 soles pp)
- Tri-pods, backpacks, food and drinks have always been restricted, and selectively enforced
- Disposable water bottles are not recommended. Please bring reusable container with drinking water
- Check availability for trains before you buy your entry tickets
- Allow additional time to board shuttle buses in Aguas Calientes. (the ride is 25 minutes each way)
- In January 2019, the agents at the bus stops in Aguas Calientes asked people with later entry times to step out of line and wait until about 1H before the scheduled time on their tickets. The early buses are only for people who have early entry at 6AM or 7AM.
The reason for the changes are said to be to improve the experience of the visitor as well as to protect and preserve the treasure of the Peruvian people. And apparently once you are inside the effect of reduced congestion is noticeable.
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.
Visitors now are limited to 1 entry per day and must follow one way marked routes. Can you spend more time in Machu Picchu? Yes! Hire a private guide who knows his/her way around the ruins. Adios guides will take you on a thorough tour that should last up to 3-4H.
To see up to date info on other changes in Machu Picchu: Follow this link to see the latest Machu Picchu News
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. It's a long day. But it's doable. Remember the travel time between Cusco and Aguas Calientes is average of 5H each way.