In order to preserve the natural beauty and historic ruins of Machu Picchu, the Peruvian government and UNESCO have teamed up to create and enforce a list of rules that they hope will keep the Wonder of the World beautiful for many generations. Before you go, make sure to know what is allowed and what isn’t! We’ve covered it all below for you.
The list of restricted items is expected to increase over the next year as stricter rules are put into place, but some of the crucial ones have long been on the list. (Check back as we’ll update this when any changes are made!)
Those hoping to bring all of their photography equipment for the best shots of Machu Picchu may face some issues. Currently tripods are prohibited, although some tourists bring smaller ones inside their day bag that go unnoticed. If you are caught entering with it though, they have the right to ask you to leave it outside (if this happens, you can pay to rent a locker for the day for it).
In terms of the cameras that are allowed, the official rules state that “non-professional” cameras are permitted, whereas “professional” cameras require the purchase of a permit. The price of said permit is not officially stated, but word from travelers who have been pressed with it say they have been asked for up to $350 USD. If you decide to pay, you may be asked to return to Aguas Calientes to fill out the appropriate forms. If you’re not willing (or unable) to pay, then you will be given the option of leaving your camera in one of the aforementioned lockers- for a very nice camera, this may not be something everyone is comfortable with.
The defining line between what is a “professional” versus a “non-professional” camera is not clearly stated: It’s up to the guard’s discretion. The best thing we can advise here is to bring the smallest camera that will suit your needs, unless you are willing to risk paying or going through the other inconveniences listed above. There are several forums online where travelers have reported on which cameras they were allowed in with, but it’s very important to note that what is allowed by one guard may be prohibited by another. Use your best judgement!
No large backpacks are allowed on Machu Picchu: Only small, personal day bags. The official limit is a maximum 20 liter bag, and anything larger will be required to remain outside. If you are only going to be in Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu for the day and don’t have anywhere to stay, you can usually pay a couple dollars to leave your larger backpack or luggage with reception of just about any of the hotels. Just bring your valuables in your day bag, and you can pick your larger one up before heading out in the evening.
Unfortunately, walked sticks have also made the list of prohibited items. If you are a fan of walking sticks while trekking and plan to do a trek atop Machu Picchu, don’t worry because they are all easily done without them.
Exceptions will be made for elderly or disabled visitors, who can bring in a walking stick if needed.
Currently there are no age restrictions for visiting Machu Picchu- Inca culture for everyone! Some trekking companies may restrict young children or the very elderly, but the train and site itself are open to everybody.
As stated above, those in physical need of a walking stick or cane will be allowed to enter with them. Wheelchairs are also allowed to enter, of course, but keep in mind that there are many series of stairs. You will need the assistance of someone (or perhaps a couple of people) who can carry the chair up or down some of the flights of steps. There are some tour companies that specialize in these, and you should consider speaking with a travel agent about this to learn all of your options for the most comfortable trip possible.
In addition to the list of prohibited items that you agreed to when buying a Machu Picchu ticket, there is also a list of prohibited behavior. Most is straightforward (no disrespectful behavior), and it probably goes without saying that all fall under the umbrella of respecting Machu Picchu as the cultural and historical site that it is.
You can find the full list of prohibited behaviors here. (http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/items/terminosycondiciones_en.html)
Considering the incredible site that Machu Picchu is, it’s great to see them taking care of it. As a traveler, it’s also great that they still allow you to explore freely and really make the post of your day at the ruins. We think they’ve found the perfect balance, it’s just important to know everything before you go so there are no surprises!