Sustainable Tourism in Machu Picchu – Everything You Need to Know


Machu Picchu attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

It is the most visited site in South America, generating a reported $40 million each year for the economy of Peru.

However, the overwhelming interest has made it a victim of overtourism and is taking a tool on the environment.

Learn all about sustainable tourism in Machu Picchu and 3 things you can do to help when visiting.

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What is Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainable tourism is responsible vacationing and traveling that takes economic, environmental, and social impacts into consideration.

It allows local economies to benefit from tourism without hurting the community and the planet.

Machu Picchu sustainable tourism

Why Does Machu Picchu Need Sustainable Tourism? 

When Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century, it wasn’t designed for the almost 2,500 visitors it receives every day.

The increased commercial activity has a negative effect on the rainforest’s fragile ecosystem, but it also harms the people living there.

Increased foot traffic has led to deforestation, erosion, and pollution.

Overtourism has created a need for sustainable tourism in Machu Picchu

3 Ways to Use Sustainable Tourism in Machu Picchu

1. Abide by the Rules, Including Daily Limits and Restrictions

The government has established a lengthy list of rules and restrictions to help preserve this site. You can help by abiding by those rules and taking them seriously.

For instance, you cannot bring umbrellas, tripods, selfie sticks, speakers, posters, or signs. You cannot fly drones, climb, or lean on any structures, feed animal life, disturb, collect, or remove flora or fauna, smoke, vape, or make disturbing noises.

Machu Pichu Sustainable Tourism

Additionally, there are limits on how many people can enter Machu Picchu and when and how long they can see various attractions like the Inca Trail.

There is a limit of 3,500 people per day, and visitors can only stay for 4 hours at a time during designated slots in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Abiding by these rules makes the experience enjoyable for everyone.

2. Don’t Bring Single-Use Plastics, Leave No Trace Behind

One of the biggest ways you can contribute to sustainable tourism in Machu Picchu is by not bringing single-use plastics such as disposable cups or water bottles. Also, don’t litter. You should “leave no trace” behind when you enter and leave the site.

3. Support the Locals, Contribute to Fair Wages

Lastly, some locals rely on tourism for their livelihood and living expenses.

It is important to support them and contribute to fair wages. You can do this by tipping tour guides, porters, cooks, bus drivers, and trekking staff to acknowledge their hard work. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Machu Picchu sustainable tourism?

Yes, Machu Picchu is one of the most eco-friendly sites in the world. There are numerous organizations and initiatives committed to preserving the site.

2. What problems does overtourism bring to Machu Picchu?

Overtourism in Machu Picchu causes deforestation, erosion, and pollution if handled incorrectly.

3. What is overtourism?

Overtourism happens when too many people visit a site or attraction. It can have a negative impact on the environment and the local population.

4. How can I contribute to sustainable tourism in Machu Picchu?

You can contribute to sustainable tourism in Machu Picchu by abiding by the rules and daily limits, avoiding littering, using single-use plastics, and supporting the locals and contributing to fair wages.

5. How is Machu Picchu being preserved?

The government is taking multiple steps to preserve Machu Picchu, including limiting the number of daily visitors and enforcing rules about what visitors can do and bring.

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About the Author Timothy Chilman

Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”

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