There are plenty of visiting rules for Machu Picchu, most of which are defined by the Dirección Regional de Cultura Cusco (Regional Directorate of Culture Cusco) in its Condiciones de la Compra del Boleto Electrónico (Conditions of Purchase of the Electronic Ticket).
When you purchase your ticket, you are automatically agreeing to abide by the rules as set out by the Conditions of Purchase. Below you’ll find the key regulations pertaining to who and what can enter the historic site, as well as other rules regarding general visitor behavior.
For more information about ticket prices (which are not covered in the Conditions), see Machu Picchu Entrance Fees.
Machu Picchu Entrance Rules
Clause Two of the Conditions of Purchase lays down all of the general access rules. Two details are particularly noteworthy:
- every visitor must have valid identification that matches the details on his or her ticket. Without such identification, access can be denied.
- the ticket must be used on the correct date.
Clause Two then lists both the people and objects that cannot enter the archaeological site -- and that can be removed from the site should they be seen by a site guard:
- customers found under the influence of toxic substances, alcohol, drugs or other substances
- firearms or air guns, ammunition, explosives, inflammable substances or other similar objects
- bows and arrows, hunting or fishing implements, axes, machetes, knives whose blades exceeded 7 cm in length, picks, shovels or other tools.
- any type of trap to capture fauna specimens
- fuels such as kerosene, diesel oil and gasoline
- sound equipment and “other generators of annoying noise” [literal translation!]
- pets and exotic species
- visitors who demonstrate bad behavior (this includes anyone showing too much flesh at the site, particularly strippers and streakers at Machu Picchu)
Prohibited Actions Inside Machu Picchu
Clause Three lists actions that are completely prohibited once you have entered the archaeological zone. Once you have entered the site of Machu Picchu, you must not:
- make campfires or other types of open fire
- consume food
- write or paint graffiti on the walls
- climb on or have direct contact with the walls of the archaeological site
- make loud noises (whistles, shouts etc)
- use any part of the archaeological site as a toilet
- carry drinks with the exception of those carried in small (personal) canteens
- alter the conditions of the flora and fauna of the archaeological site
- carry a walking stick, with the exception of older adults and the disabled
- smoke in the archaeological site or in surrounding areas where there is a risk of forest fires
Machu Picchu staff and wardens are normally quite vigilant, so expect a stern telling-off if you are caught breaking any of the rules listed in Clause Three. If you flagrantly break the rules, or break the rules repeatedly, you’ll probably be escorted out of the site. Don’t expect a refund or re-entry.
Graffiti is No Laughing Matter in Cusco or at Machu Picchu
There have been some well-publicized cases of people painting graffiti on Peru’s historic monuments.
Defacing a historic monument is obviously stupid and disrespectful, but it can also get you in serious trouble.
In 2005, for example, two young Chileans were caught spray-painting an Inca wall in Cusco. According to a report by BBC News (Feb 17, 2005), the two men faced between three and eight years in prison for “damaging Peruvian national heritage.” Peruvian authorities eventually released the Chileans following an agreement between the two countries, but only after detaining them in Peru for almost six months.
If you're tempted to scrawl your name on the rocks and walls of Machu Picchu, don't. Not only is it a dumb thing to do at a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, you can also expect some fairly heavy penalties if you're caught in the act.