So I recently returned from a trip to Peru — including a hike along the Inca Trail, a good chunk of time spent in Machu Picchu, even more time spent in Cusco, all sorts of good things. I plan on writing up a number of blog posts on things I saw and experienced — but first thought this might be helpful to future Machu Picchu visitors (it’s a sign at the entrance, laying out 25 things you may not bring to / do in the site):
Bottom line — there’s lots of inaccurate information online w.r.t what is and isn’t allowed into / at the site of Machu Picchu. So, since the above text is a bit small, here’s the posted list of restrictions (as of May, 2018), along with my comments on them:
- “Carry backpacks, bags or purses larger than 40 x 35 x 20 cm (16 x 14 x 8 inches).”
I didn’t see anybody with a tape measure or ruler, and highly doubt that the dimensions are ever strictly enforced, but suspect somebody would make a judgement call if a visitor came with a grossly excessive bag. This rule really boils down to limiting daypacks / backpacks to about 30 liters — so, no full camping backpacks, no huge purses, no duffle bags with your life’s possessions. Some passages in the site are pretty narrow, so you’ll get stuck / may damage walls if your gear is too big (particularly, too wide). If you come to the site with something big, you can check it at the gate for 5 or 6 Soles (about $2 US) — you’ll enjoy the scenery more without carrying a heavy load anyway.
- “Enter with food or kitchenware, i.e. plates, cutlery, thermoses, etc.”
Nobody’s going to check your pockets for a stray spoon, but don’t come to Machu Picchu with any plans for a picnic lunch — the food will just make a mess and draw critters.
- “Enter with any illegal substance or to be under the influence of any substance.”
- “Enter with any type of alcohol or under the influence.”
Both should go without saying…
- “Enter with umbrellas, walking sticks, portable chairs, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks or other photography / film stabilization accessories.”
I suspect that the main idea here is to avoid messing with other people’s enjoyment of the site. Most of the people in my Inca Trail group had hiking sticks (with rubber tips), and nobody was stopped or talked to for it — but then, the Inca Trail enters the site at a different spot than the normal entrance. Again, be discrete and considerate and you’ll be good.
- “Enter with animals, except guide dogs.”
The paths at Machu Picchu are narrow and lots of people are walking on them — don’t make everybody dodge your pet’s poop.
- “Feed domestic or wild animals.”
The llamas have plenty of grass to eat, and you should be giving the wildlife a wide berth.
- “Enter with any type of aerosol.”
I have no idea what is behind this rule — maybe another angle on #9? Or the desire to avoid damage caused by stray spray-on sunscreen or insect repellant?
- “Deface, alter or leave any type of graffiti.”
Again, this should go without saying.
- “Enter with any type of musical instrument, megaphone or speakers.”
- “Make loud or disturbing noises (scream, whistle, clap, sing, etc.)”
In case you missed it before, you should be considerate of other people and their experience of the site (see also #20).
- “Use virtual apps in narrow paths or outside designated explanation areas.”
Nobody wants you to fall off a cliff.
- “Enter with heels or hard-sole shoes.”
- “Access with baby strollers.”
The site has lots of stairs, these two rules are for your own good.
- “Enter with knifes or weapons of any kind.”
Don’t worry, you won’t need them.
- “Enter with banners, posters, or other objects of this type, clothing intended for advertising purposes, costumes, among others. Film or photography for advertising purposes.”
Again, this would spoil others’ experiences and in some cases run the risk of damaging the site.
- “Generate turmoil, undress, lie down, run and / or jump.”
Apparently taking naked selfies at world heritage sites is a “thing” now — nobody else wants to see that, trust me.
- “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.”
Please don’t damage Machu Picchu — other people are waiting to see it as well, and plenty of souvenirs are available for sale in town.
- “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, perform any kind of activity that implies the impairment or deterioration of the monument, its natural environment and / or facilities.”
This pretty much comes down to “please don’t be a jerk.”
- “Smoke, vape, or start a fire of any kind.”
- “Stray from the established circuits / routes.”
This isn’t as limiting as it may sound — you can wander over most of the site, only a few particularly delicate things are roped off, and there are signs where traffic needs to flow in a single direction.
- “Sell or trade inside the monument and surrounding areas, until Puente Ruinas.”
If you’ve ever been to the open-air trinket market that is Chichén Itza, you’ll appreciate that this rule exists at Machu Picchu.
- “Fly over with paragliders, drones or any type of craft.”
See #20, above.