Officials from Peru’s Ministry of Culture say they’re evaluating whether to relocate the checkpoint entrance into Machu Picchu from just outside the mountaintop ruins to down below in the deep river gorge.
The new entry point would be at a clearing a few meters from the Manuel Chávez Ballón site museum, along the winding road up to Machu Picchu.
That’s located at Km. 112 of the rail line, across the Urubamba River off to the left, just after crossing the “Puente Ruinas” bridge.
Ricardo Ruiz Caro, chief of Cusco’s regional Culture Directorate, made the announcement on Monday, after making an inspection visit to the Inca Citadel with Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage, Luis Jaime Castillo.
Currently, the entrance gate is located right outside the ruins in a cramped, bottleneck area outside the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.
Ruiz said the more ample spot below the mountain next to the site museum would allow for a larger and more comfortable experience for visitors, as park officials checked entrance tickets.
Visitors are required to present foreign passports and national identification cards, which are scrupulously checked to make sure they match the personal information on the non-transferable tickets.
The new ticket gate would also be housed inside a new “world class interpretation center,” while the adjacent site museum would be transformed into a top notch research building to advance scientific study of Machu Picchu.
It was not clear how exactly the logistical change in transportation would work.
Currently, visitors board shuttle buses in the town of Aguas Calientes and make a 35 to 40 minute ride up the switchback road to Machu Picchu. Some people hike on foot, which for most is a 2½-hour trek.
Walking from Aguas Calientes to the “Manuel Chávez Ballón” site museum is about a 20- to 40-minute endeavor, depending on your pace.
Another measure being considered (and I’m probably burying the lead here), is the installation of emergency toilets within the ruins of Machu Picchu.
“The necessary studies will have to be carried out, the experiences of some other world monuments will be considered, and specialists will be consulted about the issue,” Castillo said, “so that neither the sacredness of the site nor the environment are altered.”
Meanwhile, InfoTur Peru reported today an exclusive interview with the Minister of Culture, Diana Álvarez Calderón. If what she reportedly said comes to pass in the short term, then I’ve definitely buried the lead.
She said officials are considering a drastic change in the ticketing system to establish two main periods of admission into the site, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, in order to streamline access and even out load capacity at the ruins.
“Ninety percent of visitors go in during the morning and only 10 percent in the afternoon,” Álvarez Calderón was quoted saying. “We will change the ticketing system so more people can enter in the evenings, and that will require the trains to have different schedules.”