With over 170 buildings, 6 terraces, thousands of steps, several temples and 16 fountains, Machu Picchu is truly a marvel. The Incans used hundreds of thousands of stones to build the ancient city, and each year millions of people from all around the world flock to this living piece of history.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll, making it incredibly popular ruins site. There have been many rumors circulating for years that Machu Picchu would be closing, fueled by uninformed travelers, however, the Peruvian government, which presides over the Incan citadel, hasn't made a statement regarding the closing of the famous archaeological site.
Until further notice, Machu Picchu is currently open to the public, every day of the year from 6:00 in the morning until 5:00 pm. Given the somewhat early closing, it's recommended to arrive at the site no later than lunchtime, to allow for ample time for exploration, and time to take much-needed hiking breaks. The earlier you try to arrive on site, however, the better as it will allow for any travel delays or other common mishaps.
Past Machu Picchu Closings
Despite the open daily schedule the Peruvian authorities have had to close Machu Picchu in recent years, but only due to natural hazards such as mudslides and flooding. It is best to check the local weather conditions before embarking on the trek, and this information can be found online, or if you are staying at a hotel, the concierge can assist with daily weather information.
One such weather event in 2010 shut down trains to Machu Picchu, making it impossible for visitors to reach the Inca citadel. Official visitor statistics show no visitors for February or March of that year and Machu Picchu was officially reopened in April 2010. At the time, Peru's Tourism Minister, Martin Perez, told the BBC that the loss of revenue amounted to about US $185 million for the two-month closure. Understandably, Peruvian authorities are always keen to have Machu Picchu reopened as soon as possible following any type of forced closure.
Confusion Over Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Closures
Each year, some potential visitors become confused due to conflicting Inca Trail and Machu Picchu opening times. Unlike Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail does close for one month each year. The Inca Trail closes for maintenance during the whole of February (typically the wettest and therefore least popular month of the year) and reopens on March 1.
If you want to hike the Inca Trail, you’ll obviously have to avoid February (or choose an alternative route). If on the other hand, you want to go to straight to Machu Picchu, February remains a viable month to visit—as long as you don’t mind the rain.