Machu Picchu is an often-recommended final destination of travel by many people throughout the world. It deserves every single recommendation it has ever received because it’s a truly majestic place to visit.
It’s so majestic that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 by individuals on the world wide web like you and I.
Tourists flock to these Inca ruins from all around the world because they demand a second and third look upon entering. They deserve every deep breath you take and gushing awe you let creep out of your mouth.
But with the influx in tourists who visit year after year, and the dying need for preservation of the Inca ruins, Machu Picchu rules and regulations seemingly get stricter each year. But don’t worry, this is everything you need to know to plan a Machu Picchu trip in 2019!
Machu Picchu Rules and Regulations
Since more and more tourists are visiting Machu Picchu each year, Peru’s Minister of Culture is getting evermore strict on the rules and regulations for entering this paradise high up in the mountains.
Each visitor must enter at one of the nine designated entry times and may only stay inside the ruins for a maximum of four hours.
*I went two days in a row in 2017 and they weren’t enforcing the exit time or maximum stay time at all. Both days, I stayed for more than four hours and I stayed for a solid seven hours the second day of the visit.*
But better safe than sorry. If you’re only going to be there for a single day and never go back to Machu Picchu again, you may as well get to that gate at your designated entry time and stay until you want to leave.
As long as you’re not making a fool of yourself or destroying the place, they shouldn’t have a problem with you staying an extra hour or two.
It’s worth noting that travelers who buy a ticket to climb Machu Picchu Mountain are allowed to stay for five hours (maybe that’s why I was allowed to stay so long the second day).
The designated entry and exit times are as follows (they say you must enter between the entry times and exit between the designated exit times):
- Enter between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. & exit between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m
- Enter between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. & exit between 11 a.m. and noon
- Enter between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. & exit between noon and 1 p.m
- Enter between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. & exit between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
- Enter between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. & exit between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Enter between 11 a.m. and noon & exit between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Enter between noon and 1 p.m. & exit between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Enter between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. & exit before 5:30 p.m.
- Enter between 2 p.m. & 3 p.m. & exit before 5:30 p.m.
They only allow 800 visitors to enter during each designated period, so it’s always best to hit your entry time as early as possible.
They also say that each guest must enter Machu Picchu with a guide on their first visit, but that a guide doesn’t need to be present upon the second entry. Again, back in 2017, I entered both times without a guide.
But if you’re really looking to go on a guided tour or just want to play it safe, check out the next section.
How to Find a Machu Picchu Guide for Your Trip
Finding a licensed Machu Picchu guide is about as easy as hailing a cab in New York City. You can just flag one down once you get to the Machu Picchu entrance, and they’ll gladly take your money and teach you some pretty cool things about the ruins and Inca civilization.
No guide is allowed to take you inside if they’re not properly credentialed, so make sure they’re able to get you in before handing them all the Soles in your wallet. Every guide standing outside the Machu Picchu entrance should be fully licensed, though.
If you’re planning to do a private tour with one or two people, expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $30 USD to $45 USD, depending on your haggling skills and how long you’d like to keep the guide around.
If you don’t want to pay that much, I highly suggest chatting up a random stranger and going halfsies on a guide. A few things could happen:
- You’ll meet a new friend in a place you’ll never forget.
- You’ll receive an amazing history lesson about Machu Picchu and the Inca culture.
- You’ll support the local tourism industry a little more.
- You’ll get the guide for a fraction of the actual cost.
If you booked a package tour to Machu Picchu, you probably don’t need to hire a local guide, as you’ll probably have one already or they’ve worked out some sort of deal for you already.
You may also book a Machu Picchu guide as a complete package in tandem with your Machu Picchu entrance ticket and shuttle pass. There are multiple websites out there that sell guided tours, so just do some research and be careful when booking one. The internet has been known to have a few scams related to the Inca ruins.
If you’re backpacking on a budget (like I always try to do) by yourself or with a small group of friends, you may be better off waiting to get a guide at the entrance.
Just strike up a conversation with some fellow travelers to pitch in for the wealth of knowledge who’s about to lead you through the gates of ancient Inca civilization.