By Paco Nadal
We all want to visitMacchu Picchu. But the archaeological site and its convoluted geographical location have a carrying capacity, which in the months ofJuly toSeptember is clearly reaching yourlimit. I just got back from there and although the experience is stillfascinating (It is easy to see people crying in the viewpoint of the House of the Guardian, from where the photo that opens this news is taken, "the one that appeared in National Geographic", as the guides say), the general feeling is ofburden.
Overwhelm in the town ofAguascalientes, taken by thousands of backpackers and tourists who seem to have just come out of a Decathlon; overwhelm fortake the bus going up (those who want to see the sunrise at the top start the queue at 2.30 in the morning to be able to get on the first buses, which leave ... three hours later, at 5.30 in the morning!); stress in the busiest areas of the site and supine stress when you finish the visit and see that thetail to take the bus back it is more than half a kilometer long.
Machu Picchu was declaredUnesco World Heritage Site in 1983. During those early years, with the rural areas ofPeru besieged by fanatical terrorismShining Path, the Inca citadel received just over 100,000 visitors a year. In 1991, the year a cholera epidemic ravaged the country, the figure was 77,295. But everything accelerated from July 2007, when Machu Picchu was recognized as one of the"New 7 wonders of the modern world" in a controversial survey carried out by the private Swiss company New Open World Corporation. That year they were already sold800.000 entrance tickets.
In2016 Machu Picchu received1,419,507 visitors.
An increase difficult to digest for any monument. Even less for one that must be reached intrain through a narrow jungle valley - there is no road - and then you have to climb a zigzagging dirt track in aboutminibuses with capacity for 29 people.
It is precisely this bus system that -according to all the sources consulted- generates the largestfunnel. And if one day theChinchero international airport, replacing the small and saturated Cusco, the collapse would be total. It is calculated that with this installation the number of visitors to the region of thesacred Valley. And none of them would want to miss Machu Picchu, of course.
Those 24 buses authorized to service betweenAguascalientes (the village where all the services are, on the banks of the Urubamba river) and the access to the citadel, belong to aconglomerate of nine companiesthey have a monopoly on the system and don't allow any more to operate. The biggest isConsettur, which manages the service and distributes benefits with the other eight; There are those that have a single bus, or two; even one of the companies belongs to the municipality of Aguascalientes.
But it's thedeal of the century: 24 soles (about seven euros) per trip - up and down - multiplied by one and a half million travelers a year ... it adds up to a formidable amount!
There is an old project to build a cable car, like the one recently inaugurated in Kuelap (another citadel in the north of Peru, this one of the Chachapoyas culture), but - apart from environmental conflicts - the bus service concessionaires, led by Consettur, do not want not even hear about the loss of their rights; they have this monopoly in concession until 2025.
TheUNESCO threatened to includeMacchu Picchu on the list of Heritage sites inrisk and gave the Peruvian government a period of two years to improve the management and take measures for the conservation of the monument. Thattermexpired at the meeting that the Unesco World Heritage Committee held inKrakow (Poland) from July 10 to 17. And to the joy of the Peruvians, the measures presented wereenough for the Committee to assess the effort and decide not to include the ruins of the Inca citadel on that black list.
Thosenew rules They entered into force on July 1 and include:
-They are establishedtwo visiting hours: a first group from 6 to 12 noon; and a second group, from 12 to 17.30 hours. (In practice, if you have the second one and you arrive at 11 o'clock, they let you in; it has not been well explained how they are going to kick out those who entered the first one)
-You cannot enter the citadelwithout guide.
-Each guide can carrya maximum of 20 people (On their website they advertise 16, but the reality, at least during my stay, is that they allowed 20).
-The entrance gives the right tobe alone 4 hours inside the site.
-In those four hours you can onlyexit and re-enter once (On its website it says that you cannot leave at all but the reality is that since there are no services inside, they DO let you leave and re-enter because otherwise there would be a generalized collapse of bladders).
-The entrancefree for citizens of the department of Cuscoduly accredited that before was for Sundays and holidays,it is reduced only to Sundays.
-It is prohibited to enter with: selfie sticks, food and drinks, umbrellas and umbrellas, animals, high-heeled shoes, musical instruments and baby carriages.
It is worth saying that at least last week, during my visit, these new rules were not strictly applied. I imagine that they will be implemented little by little.
For the sake of Machu Picchu. It is not going to be that she was saved because theconquerors Spanish and will end up disappearing because we found ittourists.
All the information and ticket purchase forms, on the official website Ticket Machu Picchu