Yes, you heard right. There have been incidents in the last couple of months of local and foreign tourists striking, blocking the entrance to the Inca ruins of the Machu Picchu archeological site, protesting the lack of entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.
This can 100% be prevented when booking Machu Picchu tours through a reliable travel agency who would purchase Machu Picchu tickets in advance. Despite the pandemic, the honest truth is that tourism is booming once again such that we often need to buy Machu Picchu tickets 1-2 months in advance. There’s a limit to how many people can visit Machu Picchu daily after all (4,044 people maximum). If we get back to pre-pandemic numbers, it’s even advisable to purchase entrance tickets with more than a couple months of leeway, especially during peak tourist season like the end of July when all this started. See our post below on why late July is such a huge holiday in Peru.
So what happened with the striking tourists in Peru? They were trying to buy last-minute tickets in Aguas Calientes (otherwise known as Machupicchu Pueblo or Machupicchu Town) at the base of the ruins. From what I understand, the majority were misinformed by illegal, unregistered travel agencies, which unfortunately are common throughout Peru. You can understand the frustration if they paid to have these disreputable agencies take them on a long journey from the city of Cusco (where the airport is) to Aguas Calientes (hours away), which involves expensive train tickets. But where is Machu Picchu exactly? See our post below on How to Travel to Machu Picchu to get a feel for how complex it is to get to town of Aguas Calientes in the first place.
Imagine the feeling of abandonment – you checked with what you thought were honest travel agencies, you paid the costly price for the transport, and now you’re knocking on Machu Picchu’s door, but are being told to take that long trip back to the city because there are no more tickets. The result? Hundreds of people blocking the roads of entry to Aguas Calientes (and therefore Machu Picchu).
How do you know if a travel agency is legal and registered?
There are 2 things to look out for. (1) A registered business will have a RUC number. RUC stands for Registro Único de Contribuyente (Sole Contributor Registry) that will often be displayed on the website. (2) After getting a RUC number, all travel agencies are required to be registered with the Gerencia Regional de Comercio Exterior, Turismo y Artesanía – Región Cusco (Cusco Regional Office of Foreign Affairs, Tourism and Handicrafts), which falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See our copyright footer for an example of both.
Can you visit Machu Picchu right now?
You can visit Machu Picchu any time of the year – just make sure you or your travel agency buys entrance tickets in advance, the more months in advance the better.
When is the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu?
Although Machu Picchu is open year-round, peak tourist season is from May to August, which is the dry season in the Andes mountains. See more info in this post – When Is the Best Month to Visit Machu Picchu.
How many people visit Machu Picchu each year?
Over one million people visit Machu Picchu every year. Based on the previous limit of 3,044 people per day, the government expected 1.11 million visitors in a year. That limit was officially increased in July 2022 to 4,044 people per day, which could bring us to nearly 1.5 million visitors this year.