COVID-19 2020 Status (9/3/2020 Update):
Currently, the Peru borders are closed. As of 9/2/2020, it was announced by the Peru President that the border will reopen for business travel from the US, Spain, Chile, Mexico, and possibly Brazil on 10/1/2020 in a limited capacity. Once it reopens, to help with social distancing, the Peru Ministry of Culture plans to only allow 675 people in Machu Picchu per day and 75 people at a time. We will keep you updated as we learn more.
Will Machu Picchu Ever Close to the Public?
Machu Picchu isn’t going to close to the public in 2020, in 2021, or anytime soon. The simple answer is, no, the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru, South America is not closing. Of course, there have been some temporary closures due to unforeseen circumstances, but the marvelous citadel will remain open to the public every single day of the year from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm for the foreseeable future.
Have you ever heard of the game, telephone? You know, when you were a young one. You would sit in a big circle or long line, and the first person says a phrase or sentence (a rumor). From there, each person whispers to their comrade next to them what they heard from the person before them. By the time the last person hears the rumor, it has completely changed, almost always to something that’s completely unrecognizable from the original phrase. That’s what this is — a rumor.
With that said, there are plans in place that will change the way the public visits the Machu Picchu archaeological site.
PRO TIP: We recommend spending two days at Machu Picchu. One day for the Machu Picchu complex and the second day for Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu.
How did the Machu Picchu Permanently Closing Rumor Start?
The rumor seems to stem from a few various places and seems to crop up every year. First, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is considered endangered due to the large amount of traffic that comes to it each year. Due to extensive erosion around the archaeological site, there have been negotiations between Peru and UNESCO to reduce the number of people allowed to enter per year to help conserve the cultural heritage site. Many worry that these talks will result in Machu Picchu closing.
In 2010, there was extensive flooding around Aguas Calientes, which caused approximately 4,000 people to become stranded due to damage to the railway between Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo, which caused Machu Picchu to close for two months. The result was lost revenue of $185 million for Peru. This is not a small chunk of change, and Peru is going to do everything in its power to preserve the site while allowing people to visit it.
Additionally, there have been some unexpected closings to Machu Picchu throughout the years. In 2016, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain closed to the public for maintenance. Because of the shared named between Machu Picchu Mountain and the Machu Picchu citadel, rumors spread rapidly that Machu Picchu may be closing forever.
In 2017, there was extensive flooding and many landslides in Peru. This caused many would-be travelers to cancel their plans visiting Machu Picchu. Parts of the Inca Trail were affected in the flooding and landslides, but Machu Picchu remained untouched and remained open.
Confusion with the Inca Trail Closure
Most of the uncertainty surrounding Machu Picchu closing permanently seems to stem from the yearly Inca Trail closing. Every year, the month of February, the Peruvian government closes the classic Inca Trail for maintenance and upkeep. The Peruvian authorities with the help of the tourist agencies, clean and make necessary repairs so that hikers can enjoy the trail for the rest of the year.
Additionally, February is the peak of the rainy season. Therefore it is not desirable nor safe to hike the Inca Trail. Due to heavy rainfall, there is a higher risk of mudslides. Therefore, this is the best time to clean up the trail and perform maintenance to conserve the path for everyone who will hike it in the future. However, Machu Picchu remains open during this time.
Pro Tip: Be sure to take soles to Machu Picchu. If you want to use the bathroom at the entrance it will cost you a sole.
What is the Future of Visiting Machu Picchu?
Many people have a trip to Machu Picchu on their bucket list. It is a top-rated tourist attraction that travelers want to make sure they hit before they leave Peru. However, as previously mentioned, there will likely never be plans to close Machu Picchu for good. However, to preserve the historical site, there will probably be changes to visiting Machu Picchu.
On July 1, 2017, the first steps were implemented:
- As of then only, 2,500 people are permitted to enter the grounds each day.
- Additionally, an official tourist guide must accompany tourists to be allowed entrance.
- Groups have been split into hourly entrance times.
- Finally, the new regulations require that people follow a designed path from start to finish.
Therefore, there are no plans for Machu Picchu to close permanently. If it ever does, or arrangements were made to close Machu Picchu, this would be MASSIVE news. It wouldn’t be mere rumors, but rather rapidly spread across all the major news outlets across the world. Rest assured, you will be able to visit Machu Picchu 365 days of the year well into the future. How often have you heard the rumors that Machu Picchu is closing? Where did you hear them? Let us know in the comments.