The great thing about natural wonders is, simply, that they exist and are increasingly easy to see in person. But with that accessibility comes an even greater issue: overcrowding.
For many of these attractions, this can prove to be fatal to the surrounding environment. Such is the case with Machu Picchu—for years, trails have become over-walked, the ruins have eroded, and the entire site has shown more and more evidence of tourism. In an effort to stall the negative effects of crowding, the Cusco Office of the Ministry of Culture has added a new obstacle to seeing the Inca site in person: timed tickets.
Related: How to Visit Machu Picchu
In short, only a certain number of people will be allowed to visit the ancient citadel on a daily basis. To help regulate this, tickets will be sold in advance and each one will have a specific entry time. According to TravelPulse, the entry times run hourly between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time.
The new time tickets were put into effect on January 1st, so if you’re planning a visit anytime soon, make sure to do your research and purchase your ticket well in advance. Another aspect that could affect your planning: Each ticket holder will have access to Machu Picchu for one hour after their assigned entry time. So don’t plan on dawdling and add a few other nearby sites to your day trip itinerary.
This ticketed process isn’t necessarily new to Machu Picchu. Test runs of the new system were put into play last spring but allowed visitors to explore the area for longer periods of time.
More than four million people visited this UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, according to Peru Reports. While the timed tickets may strike a nerve at first glance, the hope is that lines outside of the site will no longer be an issue with the new process. That, and you can surely count on fewer crowds as you’re wandering around. That surely seems worth the added effort of purchasing a ticket in advance, especially if it will help keep one of the planet’s most treasured places around longer.
For more information on booking your own tickets, head to the official government website.