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Get ready to visit Machu Picchu in 2023

Preparations for visiting Machu Picchu in 2023

Machu Picchu is, with almost 100% confidence, the biggest highlight of any visit to Peru.
It is, of course, only part of the big picture, but certainly an important one. So, you don’t want to risk experiencing the stress many travelers can deal with when not preparing for this part of their trip well enough.

News runs worldwide very fast when something happens in Machu Picchu; unfortunately, the news is only sometimes pleasant. They might show long lines of people waiting to enter or board the buses covering the distance between the town and the citadel.

Strikes might be organized by any of the many groups involved in the activities surrounding the site. And last but not least, the forces of nature can impede access to this remote area.

Some of these contingencies can be solved, but others, of force majeure, can’t. Here we will concentrate on the ones that can be dealt with.

Covid-related Latest news (November 1, 2022)
The national state of emergency declared on March 15, 2020 and all related restrictions involving the use of masks, vaccination certification and health declaration to enter and travel the country, social distancing, among other measures are now officially suspended.

Tip #1 Plan your Machu Picchu visit outside of the rainy season

Rain is a blessing, but if you only count on one day to pay a visit to a wonder like Machu Picchu, you want to experience the epitome of the Incan architecture and not the downpour of rain.

When visiting the Andes and the Peruvian jungle (and Machu Picchu, which is in its transition zone), it is better to avoid the rainy season because floods and landslides can occur at any moment, blocking roads or cutting bridges, thus making traffic impossible.

The dry season roughly comprehends the period from April to November. Actually, in this region, rain can come at any moment, but with much less intensity and duration than in the off-season.

Tip #2 Buy your Machu Picchu tickets in advance

A visit to Machu Picchu normally involves trains, buses, hotels, and entry to the site of course.

The order of priority you should give to buying the respective tickets is more or less like this: Machu Picchu ticket, train tickets, hotel reservation, and bus tickets.

Consider buying your Machu Picchu tickets at least 3 months in advance, preferably 6 (or even 9, if you plan to trek the Inca Trail).

The only constraint to this recommendation is that Machu Picchu entry tickets are not available for all future dates. For example, 2023 tickets will be gradually released for sale from 22 December 2022. See below to find out which different types of tickets to Machu Picchu exist.

Tip #3 If you are not planning it yourself, leave it in the hands of experts

This is probably the best recommendation we can give you, not because we want you to buy our services, but because many travelers are scammed by unscrupulous “agencies” that tell lies to passengers promising things that can’t be done. Like getting you last-minute tickets or promising a backdoor way into Machu Picchu.

An easygoing trip to Machu Picchu requires logistics that not everybody can see in its full complexity. Not to mention that daily visits to this wonder are limited according to the maximum capacity of the site to safeguard the citadel from overtourism.

Explanation of the different types of tickets to Machu Picchu routes

Let’s dissect this issue because (to be honest) it is not very straightforward.

The following is the official and only way to buy tickets to Machu Picchu (unless you are hiring an agency to do it for you).

https://reservas.machupicchu.gob.pe

Yes, Spanish only! sorry

First, look at the small block to the left to indicate your nationality (prices are differentiated)

The first option, ‘GENERAL’ (highlighted in blue), is for all citizens that are not nationals of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, or Ecuador.

If you hold an identification document of these last countries, please click on the second option that highlights in red. This involves a cheaper tariff.

From here on, the process is the same for everybody. So let’s follow the next steps after choosing the GENERAL tariff.

⬆️ There is a drop-down menu with the four routes you can choose from

  • Llaqta de Machupicchu (Circuito 1, 2, 3 ó 4): this is the classic visit to the citadel (or ‘llacta’) where you can take any (but only one) of the four circuits designed by the authorities of the site. Chances of getting tickets for this route might be higher because there is more availability (but this is not a rule!). 

Daily tickets: 2700

Price: 152 PEN (Soles)

Entrance times: from 6 am to 3 pm

Scroll down to the next chapter to see the comparison between the circuits designed to walk along the citadel.

From here on, tickets that include any of the ‘Montañas’ will allow you only to take short circuits along the citadel. 

  • Circuito 4 + Montaña Waynapicchu: this is the most popular alternative for adventurers, including access to the mountain (Waynapicchu, the one portrayed in almost every picture of Machu Picchu). But this ticket only allows the use of circuit 4 along the citadel. Tickets for this route are more expensive and more scarce. Morning admission only.

Daily tickets: 200

Price: 200 PEN (Soles)

Entrance times: from 7 to 11 am

  • Montaña Machupicchu + Circuito 3: this is the second most popular alternative, including access to the opposite mountain (also called Machupicchu). This ticket only allows the use of circuit 3 along the citadel. More expensive and fewer tickets than the classic route (the same price as the one to Waynapicchu mountain but its availability is doubled), although very restricted entrance times.

Daily tickets: 400

Price: 200 PEN (Soles)

Entrance times: from 7 to 9 am

  • Circuito 4 + Montaña Huchuypicchu: this should be the last option to consider when visiting Machu Picchu because it does not offer a significantly different experience. BUT, in situations where tickets to the previous routes are lacking, this can be a lifesaver. 

Daily tickets: 280

Price: 152 PEN (Soles)

Entrance times: from 7 am to 3 pm

‘Agotado’ means sold out 

Out of experience, our impression is that tickets are sold more or less in this order:

Waynapicchu mountain > Llacta (citadel) > Machupicchu mountain > Huchuypicchu mountain

There is also the so-called Route 5, which involves trekking the Inka Trail (in any of its versions: 4-day, 2-day, 5-day, 7-day). But in this case, you will have to buy the trek through an authorized agency because these tickets are not sold to individuals. 

We only offer the 4-day Inca Trail version for practical reasons, but you can check the other options with our partner agency.   

Daily tickets: 500

Sales: starting gradually since October 2022

Price: variable depending on the version

Seasonal admittance: closed during all of February

After having chosen your preferred ticket, the following steps are pretty straightforward.

  • You are required to fill in (per passenger and up to 5 people): country of citizenship, type of identification document, ID number, last name, first name, date of birth, and sex.
  • Then. you just have to tick the statement declaring that the information submitted is true.
  • Provide an email and information for obtaining a tax-deductible receipt.
  • And finally, read and accept the terms and conditions. Three in total.

IMPORTANT: Machu Picchu tickets do not allow changes of name or date, only the ID number in case you obtained a new document before coming to Peru.

The last step is the payment, where you might see a little increase in the price due to commissions according to the selected payment method.

Read on to find out the differences between circuits (not the routes explained above) along the Machu Picchu citadel or ‘llaqta’.

Explanation of the different types of circuits inside Machu Picchu

All five circuits are one-way only and were designed to protect the citadel from overuse and make crowds flow along the passages without much hassle.

Each of them has an estimated time for completion, as well as pros and cons (according to us), as explained in the following lines.

Circuit 1

Accessible only when buying the ‘Llaqta de Machupicchu’ route ticket

2-hour experience

Pros

  • Gives access to the classic lookout point for great scenic views. As well as the popular Inca Bridge.
  • Great during the less-visited times (afternoon time slots).

Cons

  • It doesn’t give access to almost half of the complex, where the Sacred Plaza, the Intiwatana Pyramid, the Sacred Rock, the Three Gates, and the Condor Temple are located.

Circuit 2

Accessible only when buying the ‘Llaqta de Machupicchu’ route ticket

3-hour experience

Probably the best circuit of all 

Pros

  • Gives access to the classic lookout point for great scenic views. As well as the popular Inca Bridge.
  • Great during the less-visited times (afternoon time slots).

Cons

  • Access to Intiwatana Pyramid (considered a monument inside the citadel) is restricted to the hours between 7 and 10 am.
  • Access to the Temple of the Condor (considered a monument inside the citadel) is restricted to the hours between 10 am and 1 pm.

The following map is to give you context for the next two circuits (3 and 4)

Location of the three mountains of Machu Picchu (rounded orange icons) and their positions in relation to the citadel (center)

Circuit 3

Accessible when buying ‘Llaqta de Machupicchu’ or ‘Montaña Machupicchu + Circuito 3’ route tickets

1:30-hour experience

Circuit 3 is the only circuit you are allowed to take if you bought a ticket to climb Montaña Machupicchu

Pros

  • This is a circuit designed for people with reduced motricity (and/or using wheelchairs). There is no need to climb or descend much.
  • Gives access to the Sun Temple complex (considered a monument inside the citadel). 

Cons

  • Very limited: it doesn’t give access to the classic lookout point nor many other monuments of the site. And you won’t pass through the Main Gate (very popular among visitors).

Circuit 4

Accessible when buying ‘Llaqta de Machupicchu’, ‘Circuito 4 + Montaña Waynapicchu’ or ‘Circuito 4 + Montaña Huchuypicchu’ route tickets

2:30-hour experience

Circuit 4 is the only circuit you are allowed to take if you bought a ticket to climb Waynapicchu or Huchuypicchu mountains.

Pros

  • Good for those who cannot (or don’t want to) climb a lot but still want to have a more or less comprehensive visit to the citadel.
  • Gives access to the Sun Temple complex (considered a monument inside the citadel). 

Cons

  • It doesn’t give access to the classic lookout point, and you won’t pass through the Main Gate (very popular among visitors).
  • Access to the Temple of the Condor (considered a monument inside the citadel) is restricted to the hours between 10 am and 1 pm.

Circuit 5

Accessible when buying any of the ‘Inka trail’ tickets

1:30-hour experience

Trekking the Inka Trail will get you to Machu Picchu in the early morning hours after entering through the Intipunku or Sun Gate (see the left edge on the map).

At the next control point, you will be asked to choose if you stay and take the circuit or leave momentarily (if you want to use the restroom) and re-access later.

Pros

  • Gives access to the Sun Temple complex (considered a monument inside the citadel). 

Cons

  • Doesn’t give access to the classic lookout point.

Covid-related Latest news (November 1, 2022)
The national state of emergency declared on March 15, 2020 and all related restrictions involving the use of masks, vaccination certification and health declaration to enter and travel the country, social distancing, among other measures are now officially suspended.

What to bring on your Machu Picchu visit?

  • Good shoes. Consider that there could be mud and/or wet rocks and that you also want your ankles to have good support during your walk or climb to some of the mountains.
  • If it’s the rainy season (November-April), there will most likely be some precipitation, and even if it’s not the rainy season, you want to be alert. You never know when there will be wet conditions, therefore you will want to bring a light or heavy raincoat.
  • If you NEED a walking stick, it must always have a rubber tip.
  • Solar protection: everything you find to be necessary and enough, along with sunscreen (hat/cap, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants, others)
  • Hydration for the maximum length of the visit (3 hours tops) and snacks in reusable or eco-friendly containers/packaging.
  • Small personal backpack

Rules When Visiting Machu Picchu

During your visit to Machu Picchu, it is prohibited to:

  • Carry backpacks, bags, or purses larger than 40x35x20 cm (16x14x8 inches).
  • Enter with food or kitchenware, i.e., plates, cutlery, thermoses, etc.
  • Enter with any illegal substance or be under the influence of any substance.
  • Enter with any alcohol or under its influence.
  • Enter with umbrellas, walking sticks (with few exceptions, only if you can’t walk without them), portable chairs, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, or other photography/film stabilization accessories.
  • Enter with animals, except guide dogs.
  • Feed domestic or wild animals.
  • Enter with any aerosol.
  • Deface, alter the ruins, or leave any graffiti on them.
  • Enter with any musical instrument, megaphone, or speaker.
  • Make loud or disturbing noises (scream, whistle, clap, sing, etc).
  • Use virtual apps in narrow paths or outside designated explanation areas.
  • Enter with heels or hard-sole shoes.
  • Access with baby strollers.
  • Enter with knives or weapons of any kind.
  • Enter with banners, posters, or other objects of this type, clothing intended for advertising purposes, and costumes, among others.
  • Film or photograph for advertising purposes.
  • Generate turmoil, undress, lie down, run, and/or jump.
  • Climb or lean on walls and/or structures. Touch, extract, or move lithic elements such as rocks and stonework.
  • Disturb, collect, or remove flora or fauna.
  • Carry out activities that distort the sacredness of the monument; such as fashion shows, dances, social commitments, obscene acts contrary to morality and good manners, and perform any kind of activity that implies the impairment or deterioration of the monument, its natural environment and/or facilities.
  • Smoke or vape, or start a fire of any kind.
  • Litter.
  • Stray from the established circuits/routes.
  • Sell or trade inside the monument and surrounding areas, until Puente Ruinas.
  • Fly over with paragliders, drones or any type of craft.

Performing acts or entering with objects prohibited in this list will generate the immediate expulsion of the visitor without reimbursement and the start of legal actions if necessary. The park guards of the Ministry of Culture and the agents of the National Police are the authority within the monument’s premises.

What is next?

Buy your train tickets / Book accomodation / Get bus tickets

Or if you prefer, let us plan your trip!

ABOUT RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL PERU

RESPONS’ mission is to improve living conditions in Peru through developing and promoting sustainable tourism. We’ve implemented a business model in which all areas of human relations are respected, and - equally important - respect for the planet is incorporated.

Following this business model, we practice fair trade, foster cultural identity, promote equal opportunities, and we preserve the environment that surrounds us and other species.

Together with you we improve, day by day, on the always-demanding path towards sustainability.

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