How The Inca Trail Hike Permits and Machu Picchu Tickets Changed in 2022
Over the last few months, the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism and park authorities have been playing around with the tickets and permits at Machu Picchu. They whittled a little rule here, and carved out a chunk of regulation there, and now the procedures for using the Machu Picchu entry tickets that come with your Inca Trail permits are entirely different than they were even 1 year ago.
I'm writing this only for those folks who care about tiny details. Honestly, if you just book your hike or your trip with a trustworthy operator, most of you will enjoy the many choices for traditional and adventure activities that Peru has to offer. Just let them handle it. However if you care about which route you're going to tour in Machu Picchu, or the amount of time you have for your tour, then read on my friend. Your time will be rewarded.
It used to be that Inca Trail hikers earned a certain recognition and prestige for choosing to get to Machu Picchu on foot. There was genuine admiration for the suffering that hikers endured to get there. (Ok. A lot of suffering. But it's the good kind!) The Inca Trail hikers were rewarded with the bonus of having unfettered access to the circuit of their choice in the citadel of Machu Picchu, and the flexibility to enter any time they liked. It's been this way for years. And remained the same even after reopening from the covid shutdown. But then. . . something happened in 2022. They just kept playing with the Machu Picchu circuits for the hikers. The actual Inca Trail hikes stayed the same, but the circuits and access to Machu Picchu has twisted and turned and right now here is what we have.
New Circuit 5 at Machu Picchu for Inca Trail Hikers
That's right. They created an entirely new circuit at Machu Picchu just for hikers. Hikers have their exclusive moment to savor the classic view of Machu Picchu from the Guard House at the top of the upper terraces. This view is only available on the day that you hike in from the Sungate on the Inca Trail. From there it's all downhill so to speak. The ticket for Machu Picchu that comes with the Inca Trail permits is only for the lower circuit 5. Circuit 5 was created to prevent congestion at the checkin for the Huayna Picchu and Huchuy Picchu hikes. If you look at the map, you see that circuit 5 turns around before you get to the checkpoint.
Inca Bridge Reopens at Machu Picchu. And then it closed again.
Finally, the Inca Bridge has reopened. For over 2 years, it has pretty much been reserved exclusively for spectacled bears. In July 2022, they started offering entry tickets to Inca Bridge with your choice of circuit 1 or 2. Before you get too excited, let me tell you about the bridge. It's a piece of rough timber thrown across a break in the trail that happens to be right in front of a granite wall. To get there, you enter the main gate at Machu Picchu, then hike up to the upper terrace. It's a wee bit steep. But it's short. Once you get there, you might as well do the short hike to the Inca Bridge before you begin your circuit. There will be no treading on the bridge itself or even getting close enough to touch it. Snap your photos then turn around and walk back. The side trip to the bridge is short and easy and therefore, in my opinion, it's worth the little bit of extra effort. If you can get the tickets.
Sadly the tickets for Inca Bridge were removed only a couple of weeks after they were released. No one knows why.
Which circuit is the best for getting the classic photo of Machu Picchu? Click Here to read more.
How can Inca Trail Hikers Gain Access to More Sections of the Machu Picchu ruins?
Simply put. Buy another ticket. There's no limit on the number of entry tickets you can buy. When you look at the big picture, the cost of another ticket is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other travel expenses. Here's something to be aware of. I know everyone wants to get the coveted Huayna Picchu hike tickets, but keep in mind that those tickets come with access to (lower) circuit 4 which you're expected to tour before you checkin for the hike. If you want to explore as much of the ancient citadel as possible, then I would get Llaqta de Machu Picchu ticket and tour circuit 2.
If you're booking an Inca Trail hike and you want to see more of Machu Picchu, ask your tour operator about getting additional tickets. Open Inca Trail hikes for groups will likely be limited in the amount of customization they can offer. But it doesn't hurt to ask. And you can always set up a private hike with as many customized features as you like. Just text Heather. She's also on What'sApp 757-270-9293