Some questions hover around like hummingbirds, quietly floating in the background or flapping frenziedly to the fore. “Is Machu Picchu closing?” is one such question.
Two things help keep this strangely common query alive:
- The annual Inca Trail closure — The classic Inca Trail closes every year for the whole of February. This one-month hiatus allows maintenance teams to keep the trail in good order by cutting back vegetation, tidying up the campsites, removing trash and repairing general wear and tear along the trail. Machu Picchu does not close in February.
- Rumors — Machu Picchu closure rumors seem to flower and fade throughout the year, all of them spurious and ultimately fruitless. Where these rumors come from is anyone’s guess, but they might tie-in with the Inca Trail closure in February, as well as frequently voiced concerns regarding erosion of the site and how best to protect it (closure being a logical, albeit extreme, option).
Is Machu Picchu Likely to Close in the Future?
Of course, certain events can force a temporary closure. In late-January 2010, torrential rains damaged the local rail and road infrastructure and left tourists stranded in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). South America’s most popular tourist attraction remained closed for two months. It was officially reopened — to much joy and relief — on April 1, 2010. Martin Perez, Peru’s Tourism Minister at the time, told the BBC that the two-month closure amounted to a loss of revenue totaling $185 million (other estimates place the financial loss at more than double that amount).
Understandably, Peruvian authorities are highly averse to shutting the Inca citadel. After all, you don’t cook the goose that lays the golden eggs.
One thing is for sure: if Machu Picchu does ever close — for whatever reason — it will be big news. BIG NEWS. You’ll certainly hear about it here and across the global travel-related media. As things stand, Machu Picchu is open to the public every day of the year from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm (or thereabouts).
In general, therefore, feel free to ignore all Machu Picchu closure rumors — just keep an eye on the weather and pick a month to visit Machu Picchu that suits you style.
- Update Aug 2015: You may have heard whispers about Machu Picchu closing in April 2016. In fact, the two mountain peaks at Machu Picchu will be closed to the public during this period, but not Machu Picchu itself.