New Rules for Machu Picchu 2021
Updated July 20th, 2021
Due to an improvement in the level of contagion, the government has taken new measures that will apply until the 8th of August. These imply new operation schedules and capacity of the archaeological site of Machu Pichu as well as other archaeological sites and museums in Cusco and other regions in Peru.
The pictures in this post have all been taken during an inspection trip by our Cusco team.
Together with local authorities, the Ministry of Tourism have released a new set of rules to regulate visits to Machu Picchu from December 1st, 2020.
Information on the Cusco’s Cultural Board’s website is currently available only in Spanish. Therefore, we have summarized the relevant aspects for visitors and tourism companies in English.
Machu Picchu Entry and Visitation Regulations
- Machu Picchu is operating at 100% capacity, which means that there are 2,244 spaces available daily.
- Temperature will be taken before entry, visitors registering more than 37.5°C (99.5° F) or more won’t be allowed to enter the site.
- Groups will have a maximum of 9 (8 visitors and a guide).
- During the Machu Picchu tour, a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between visitors is suggested, and for groups, at least 20 meters (66 ft).
- The visit has a maximum duration of 4 hours.
- Wearing of a mask is compulsory during the entire visit to Machu Picchu.
- To comply with safety and health protocols throughout the travel experience, measures to keep social distancing have been implemented. Socially distanced markings on the floor for the waiting line to board the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu can now be found. At train stations, one seat has to remain empty between passengers.
- Antibacterial hand gel is available at train and bus stations, etc.
Trains to Machu Picchu
PeruRail and IncaRail have resumed their operation on November 1st 2020. Both companies have implemented safety protocols.
- All passengers must show their ID along with their digital boarding pass.
- Boarding will be done exclusively by means of showing your digital boarding pass (on your smartphone).
- Before boarding the trains, the symptomatology form must be submitted in digital format, through a sworn statement. In the case of children under 14 years old, they may only travel with at least one of their parents/guardians. Find the sworn statement for each rail company:
General Form: Peru Rail / Inca Rail
Children under 14 years old: Peru Rail / Inca Rail
Over 65 years old: Peru Rail / Inca Rail
- Wearing of a mask and a face shield on board is compulsory.
- Temperature checks will be carried out on board.
- As of November 29th, 2020, the new capacity of the trains has been upped to 100%.
- Consuming food onboard is not permitted.
- The Hiram Bingham train will only operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays until June 30th, 2022.
- The Andean Explorer train will only operate from the end of March 2022.
Hours & Admissions
- Visits to Machu Picchu begin at 06:00 am. The site closes at 05:30 pm.
- There are 9 visit slots from Monday to Sunday, the first from 6:00 am to 7:00 am and the last from 2:00 pm through 3:00 pm.
- Visitors should take the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu max. 30 minutes before the start of the assigned visitation time slot.
- As you see in the picture below, signage and floor markings allow for compliance with social distancing.
- Wearing of a mask during your visit is compulsory.
- Due to the limited number of tickets to Machu Picchu on sale, we recommend you first check slot availability and based on that look for a suitable train frequency.
- Entrance availability can be checked online here.
- Children younger than 12 years are permitted to enter Machu Picchu from December 2020.
Machu Picchu Circuits
Four one-way circuits have been defined to reduce gatherings in Machu Picchu.
- First Circuit (short): walk from the House of the Guardian to the Main Gate, includes the stop at the quarries, the lookout point to see the Sun Temple, the Square of Temples, the Water Fountains. Exit through the Pisonae Square
- Second Circuit (long): Similar to the first circuit with the addition of Intiwatana (Pyramid), Llamakancha, and the Sacred Rock. Exit through the terrace in the lower sector.
- Third Circuit (short): access through the Qolqas (storehouses), terraces, the House of the Inca, the Water Fountains and exit through the Pisonae Square.
- Fourth Circuit (long): similar to the third circuit with the addition of Llamakancha, the Sacred Rock, the qolqas or warehouses (from the east side). Exit through the terrace in the lower sector.
In order to enlarge the map please download the PDF file (4 MB).
Shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
Similar to the trains, the capacity of the shuttle buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and vice-versa is 100%. Wearing a mask and a face shield on board is compulsory.
Admission to the Inca Trail
In the new rules for Machu Picchu the ‘Inca Trail’ is considered to be the Fifth Circuit. It requires a different entrance fee. From November 2020 there are two options to book the two day Inca Trail:
- Option 1: Hiking from KM 104 and then visit to Machu Picchu (the same day).
- Option 2: Hiking from KM 104 and visit to Machu Picchu the next day.
The first option is the one we recommend for travelers in a good physical condition and with previous hiking experience.
For the 2 Days / 1 Night Inca Trail the maximum number of hikers joining a group is 7. Each group has to be led by a guide and a porter. In case that a porter is not required, an additional hiker could join the group. For the 5 Days / 4 Nights Inca Trail or the 6 Days / 5 Nights Inca Trail there can be 8 hikers in a group without considering the guide or porter. In total, the maximum number of visitors per group can be 25 people consisting of 8 tourists, 1 guide, and 10-16 support people (such as porters).
Biosafety protocols are similar to the ones set for Machu Picchu and this includes the wearing of a mask during the hike. In case of a higher concentration of people, double masks must be worn. If a 5-meter distance can be maintained, masks can be removed temporarily, before and after hands are disinfected. In addition, signs can be found at the beginning of the trail indicating mandatory use of face masks, hand washing, and social distancing of at least 1.5 meters. Touching the walls of the ruins is prohibited. Before starting the hike, visitors must sign an affidavit of health found here. Groups must wait at least 15 minutes between starting times in order to keep sufficient distance (at least 20 meters) from each other. This applies to stops made along the trail as well. Body temperature checks will be made at the starting point as well as at different checkpoints throughout the trial. In addition, oxygen saturation checks will be performed at the start of the hike. In case a hiker develops symptoms, evacuation plans are in place to be followed. Finally, all equipment including tents and walking poles are to be disinfected before and after use. It is not permitted to share tents with people who are not in the same family group and tents and sleeping bags will be labeled to avoid sharing.
Currently, the Inca trail is run at 50% capacity. This means that for the 5 Days / 4 Nights Inca Trail or the 6 Days / 5 Nights Inca Trail there are 250 spaces at a time. For the 2 Days / 1 Nights Inca Trail there are 125 spaces at a time.
Since the 25th of June, it is again possible to buy permits for the 4 Days and 3 Nights Inca Trail as well as the 6 Days and 5 nights Inca trail. Permits for departures for the whole year of 2021 will be available for purchase. It is not yet possible to buy permits for 2022. From the 15th of July 2021, these trails have been open to visitors again.
Bear in mind that the Inca Trail remains closed every year in February for maintenance.
Access to Wayna Picchu & Machu Picchu Mountain
The new rules for Machu Picchu also include guidelines for visits to Wayna Picchu and ‘Machu Picchu Mountain’. Both remain closed until further notice.