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Peru restricts access to Machu Picchu

May 11, 2019

Thousands of visitors each day make the trek up to the ancient Inca ruins deep in the Andes mountains. The restrictions are a trial to see if damage can be limited to Peru's principal tourist attraction.

Machu Picchu Inca ruins in Peru
Image: picture-alliance/C. Wojtkowski

After a series of studies looking into the condition of the 15th century ruins, access to the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Condor and Intihuatana Pyramid is to be restricted for two weeks starting next Wednesday.

The local cultural management center DDC said: "These measures are necessary to conserve Machu Picchu, given the evidence of deterioration" on stone surfaces. An average 4,000 people visit Machu Picchu each day.

For the first week of the restrictions, tourists will be allowed to visit the three areas at particular times of the day:

  • from 07:00 to 10:00 for the Temple of the Sun
  • from 10:00 to 13:00 for the Temple of the Condor
  • from 13:00 to 16:00 for the Intihuatana Pyramid

For the second week of the trial, the schedule will be reversed, with access to the Pyramid first and the Temple of the Sun last.

At the end of the test period, an assessment will be made before applying permanent new rules from June 1.

A llama above Machu Picchu
A llama above Machu PicchuImage: picture alliance/dpa/Anka Agency

Read moreIn Peru, Inca descendants restore forests

A challenging journey

Machu Picchu was one of the ancient Inca civilization's cities,  perhaps a summer residence, before it was abandoned in the 15th century.

At 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the city of Cuzco, the isolated UNESCO World Heritage site can be reached either by a four-day trek by foot or by train. A new Inca Rail direct train service from Cuzco's city center to Machu Picchu began in May, at the start of the main tourist season which lasts until August.

Read moreVenice imposes entry fee for day-trippers

A series of proposals to protect the site have been made, including a cable car or tunnel access from the valley up to the site, which lies at an altitude of 2,430 meters (7,972 feet)

The Inca empire once stretched from southern Colombia in the north, through Peru to Chile in the south, including an estimated 16 million people. Spanish invaders reached the empire in 1528 and 50 years later the Inca had been defeated.

jm/ng (EFE, AFP)

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