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Thinking about Machu Picchu? Permits are getting scarcer!

For the past several years, permits have been required to hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Now, in the midst of high season 2011, the Peruvian Government has implemented a new system of permitting to visit the Citadel of Machu Picchu whether or not a traveler uses to Inca Trail to get there. These changes—designed to protect the site’s fragile environment—will drastically reduce the number of visitors who are allowed to visit Peru’s archaeological wonder, Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, some tourists who had not yet secured a permit are out of luck.

The requirement of permits was put in place by the Ministry of Culture’s Regional Directorate in Cusco, to limit the negative effects of too much traffic in this historical sanctuary. At Country Walkers we do everything in our capability to respect the natural and cultural qualities of each region we visit, so we understand why this decision is being made. While travelers bring a great deal of positives to Peru, including economical benefits, inspiring environmental conservation, offering language and cultural exchanges, to name a few, the negative impacts of too many visitors includes eroding the footpath, dealing with increasing human waste, and a disruption to the traditional way of life.

The permitting changes serve only to limit, not eliminate, visitors. In detail, only 500 people, including guides and porters, are allowed on the Inca Trail each day—the same law that has been in effect for a number of years now. The new law means only 2,500 permits will be granted for the Machu Picchu Citadel per day. Though 2,500 may sound like a lot, in the high season, some 3,500 travelers visit the site on any given day.

Everyone is affected by this requirement. As with all companies sending travelers to Peru, Country Walkers can not secure permitting ahead of time in hopes of filling the spots. Travelers must be booked and provide complete passport details to confirm a permit with the Ministry of Culture. So if you’re thinking of visiting Machu Picchu this year, book now! We still have limited space on for our upcoming tours (Departing Sept. 2, Nov. 4, and Dec. 23). We will not raise our prices on this year’s tours, regardless of this new regulation. Even if you are just considering Machu Picchu, take a moment to look at our itinerary for Peru: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

We don’t want you to miss out on a chance to see these amazing ruins, especially this year, the 100th anniversary of their rediscovery by Hiram Bingham. Believe us; the sun rise over Machu Picchu is an experience of a lifetime!

What do you think about the new permitting system? Are 2,500 daily permits too many or not enough? If you’ve been to Machu Picchu, did you find it too crowded?

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