The next time you scroll through the pictures of your friends in Machu Picchu, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and see beautiful views of the Inca city surrounded by mountains; know that in many cases, there are dozens of people behind that isolated photo waiting for their turn to obtain a photograph of that same place. The fame caused by Instagram and other platforms and social media has helped boost the popularity of many places around the world and helped to decide many people their next destination; in certain cases, without measuring the impact that this enormous amount of visits can cause in that place. 5,940 people can enter Machu Picchu every day. Available tickets allow you to choose to enter the morning or afternoon shift; since then, it can only remain for 4 hours inside the Inca city, which in 2.016 received 1.4 million visitors. Having said that, we recommend you to visit Machu Picchu in the afternoon shift, you will find many fewer people than in the morning shift. The new regulation of visits to Machu Picchu requires that all people enter accompanied by a guide, stay on the established routes and not exceed the allowed 4 hours within the national park.
Machu Picchu ruins survived the Spanish onslaught against the Inca Empire, but in the last few decades it has suffered more threats to its architectural integrity and pristine Andean environment than it did in nearly 500 years of existence. UNESCO recently threatened first to add Machu Picchu to its list of endangered World Heritage Sites and then withdraw that status unless stringent measures were taken by the Peruvian government to protect the landmark ruins.
In 2001, a film company shooting a TV ad for a Peruvian beer sneaked equipment into the site and irreparably damaged the stone Intihuatana atop the Machu Picchu ruins. Additionally, developers planned to build cable cars that would run from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu to facilitate access. The plan, endorsed by the government, would have quadrupled the number of visitors and created an eyesore among the majestic peaks that surround the ruins. Fortunately, those ill-conceived plans were finally scuttled. Responding to the pressure from UNESCO, foreign governments, and watchdog groups, the Peruvian government also introduced measures to clean up the historic Inca Trail and restrict access to it. In a unique debt-swap initiative, the government of Finland traded 25% of Peru´s outstanding debt (more than $6 million) for conservation programs.
The 2001 World Monuments Watch list of the 100 Most Endangered sites in the World included Machu Picchu ruins, but in 2002, the site was removed from the notorious list in recognition of the government´s more stringent regulations on the Inca Trail and the suspension of the cable-car plan.
But the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Cusco, is not the only place that needs to be protected, there are many other places in other cities of the world that simply are not prepared to face the irremediable increase of visitors.