“Sold Out”: Traveling to Peru and not seeing Machu Picchu?  Tourists and traders angry at entry restrictions

“Sold Out”: Traveling to Peru and not seeing Machu Picchu? Tourists and traders angry at entry restrictions

When it reopened in November 2020 after many months of closure it was once opened to a Japanese tourist… the Peruvian government decided to limit visitor numbers to protect the monument, which in recent years has suffered severely under overtourism. The latest restrictions mean Machu Picchu tickets are selling out fast and well in advance. This Friday, traders and tourists protested against the measure for the second time in two weeks.

The scenes of the protests in front of the Inca citadel and in the neighboring village of Aguas Calientes, which lives from tourism, are somewhat surreal, but very real. Since the tickets are sold out online (some are prebooked by agencies), many tourists come to the neighborhood expecting to buy the tickets in person, since part of the tickets are reserved for direct sales in this way. But in vain.

“This is fraud,” an angry tourist who took part in the protests was quoted as saying by AFP. The visitor said he paid $65 for the train ride from Ollantaytambo, about 150 km from Machu Picchu. Like him bought many other excursions, even programs with a guide, to be able to admire the monument step by step at 2490 meters, but without tickets they stand at the gates of heaven.

In July, tickets for tickets sold out quickly by midAugust. Convinced by the protests, the government has raised the entry limit from 3,044, increased by another thousand in July, and then by another thousand, rising to the current 5,044 daily. When it reopened in November 2020, the number set by the government was much lower: 675 visitors per day.

The World Heritage monument was reopened to visitors with an Inca ceremony asking for blessings from the gods and plenty of light. But with reinforced security because of the pandemic and with conditioned access to 675 tourists per day.

As well as the many disgruntled tourists, there are the area’s merchants who are seeing fewer and fewer tourists arriving due to the numerus clausus that has aimed to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site for more than half a millennium. The protests led to the railroad blockade and are now the second in two weeks.

In a statement, the dealer group called for more tickets to be sold at the Machu Picchu Culture Ministry store in Aguas Calientes: “50% of the tickets would have to be sold in person”. Goal: “Reactivating our economies”. The government has allowed inperson sales to increase, but “while respecting established daily limits”.

Priest Cesar Augusto Salazar prays outside the citadel at a ceremony in 2019 EPA/Ernesto Arias

Online it is important to book in advance and not rely on last minute tickets. This Saturday evening, for example, there were still a few tickets for 15 days from now on the official website, but at undesirable times: the dates with greater demand are sold out quickly, even for the following months (online purchase possible until December 31st).

There are limited entries by route and time slot (from 6am to 7am to 2pm to 3pm) and the website shows the number of tickets available in real time. For September 1st, for example, there were 30 tickets from 7am to 8am and about two hundred tickets per hour in the afternoon, but the Sunrise period (+6h) and the remaining morning periods were already sold out.

General admission costs 152 (nuevos) soles, about 38.2 euros.