With the new “Regulation of Sustainable Use and Tourist Visit for the Conservation of the Inca city of Machu Picchu,” new ways of touring the complex have been established. With this new regulation, four official tourist visit circuits have been established. These circuits must be respected and followed by all people who enter the interior of the National Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu. And these circuits must be followed by both visitors and tour guides. In addition, it is stipulated that these circuits may be modified based on the conservation of the Llaqta de Machu Picchu.
Why Does Machu Picchu Have new Circuits Now?
In an effort to appease UNESCO and to control the tourist crowds at Machu Picchu, the new circuits were introduced in October of 2022. Space is limited at Machu Picchu. Many trails, staircases, and doorways are very narrow, only allowing one person to pass through at a time. These create bottlenecks in the traffic flow, and human traffic jams are all too common.
The purpose of the new circuits is to spread out the crowds to different areas of the Sanctuary and at different times of the day. Not only will you have to enter Machu Picchu at a certain time that you’ll choose when you buy the ticket, but also you won’t be allowed to linger in certain areas with limited space for too long.
Which Circuit is the Best One for exploring Machu Picchu?
Best circuit will be the #2, The circuit #2 + Inca Bridge will be even better!
Why is the best one?
Becuase the circuit #2 on its own gives you access to the largest number of areas at the site, including the classic Machu Picchu viewpoint from the Guardhouse. In other words, Circuit 2 is the best of the 5 numbered circuits.
The option that allows you to add the Puente Inka (Inca Bridge) trail to Circuit 2 is even better. Here’s my guide to the Inca Bridge trail.
Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu
My recommended ticket is Puente Inka + Circuit 2, which includes Circuit 2 and an additional hike to Inca Bridge
What will you see on Circuit 2?
The Guardhouse or classic Machu Picchu viewpoint (#1 or 2 on the map, you can choose either, go for the higher one – #2), the Machu Picchu Main Entrance Gate, the Torreon viewpoint (#4) or Inca Quarry (#5 – you’ll have to choose one or the other when walking), Sacred Plaza and Temple of Three Windows, Intihuatana, Sacred Stone, and Temple of Condor (10 AM to 1 PM) or Hall of Mirrors (before 10 AM or after 1 PM).
Please read the detailed information about the circuit for exploring Machu Picchu.
CIRCUIT NUMBER 1 (HIGH SHORT ROUTE)
Anyone looking to visit Machu Picchu Inca City will see that they can do four circuits or tours within the Inca citadel. Circuit number #1 includes what would be the high part near Machu Picchu mountain. Here you can tour a little of the agricultural area and have the first glimpses of Machu Picchu. This circuit begins at the well known fork in the access road to the Inca City of Machu Picchu. At this point, you will ascend to a platform that is no more than 240 meters high. From there you will have the first complete view of the Inca citadel, and then you can continue to the ceremonial platform where the well known Guardian’s Hut is located.
From there you will go down the path that leads to Puente del Inca. You will find a path that descends from the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) and goes to the urban sector of the citadel. There you can see the main entrance or the Main Gate. The main portal would be the original entrance to the urban sector of Machu Picchu. From the urban sector, you will be able to see the other side of the citadel. The road continues until reaching the quarry area (Granitic Chaos). And if you continue along the road you will descend to a group of Inca buildings to continue to the Temple of the Sun.
Then you can continue and admire the Casa del Inca, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Temple of the Condor. This is the extension of route number 1. Although if you have the right ticket you can enjoy the other circuits and learn more about the Inca citadel.
CIRCUIT NUMBER 2 (HIGH-LONG ROUTE)
This circuit is a long high route to appreciate the Inca citadel. Circuit number 2 consists of the same route as number 1. This route is different in the sense that after the Temple of the Sun, you will choose to ascend the steps of the fountains. From there you will go to the Sacred Plaza to ascend to the Intihuatana pyramid. From the top of the pyramid, you will go down in the direction of the Sacred Rock. And from there it will continue on its way to open space. From there you will find the Three Gates, a set of buildings dedicated to the Inca elite. Please note that each site cannot be admired for more than 20 minutes.
So once finished you will continue to the Hall of Mirrors and the Temple of the Condor. Unlike circuit one, this tour includes the sites of the Sacred Plaza, the Intihuatana, Sacred Rock, and the Three Gates. This circuit is one of the best Machu Picchu tours available. Since it goes through the Inca citadel and its different sectors in depth.
CIRCUIT NUMBER 3 (SHORT LOW ROUTE)
This circuit begins at the fork in the access road to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. But unlike circuits 1 and 2, this one considers the route that crosses the area of agricultural terraces to go directly to the urban sector. This circuit is the shortest circuit of the Inca citadel. You will start descending no more than 30 meters to access the warehouses (Colcas) and continue along the path that crosses the agricultural sector. There you will be able to appreciate the different agricultural terraces until you reach the Main Gate where you will enter the Urban Sector.
From that point, you will go to the Ceremonial Fountains and then continue south to enter the Temple of the Sun. If you continue you will get to know the Casa del Inka and then continue ascending the steps of the fountains. From this point, the circuit takes the same route as Circuit 1. This route does not take more than 3 hours. Taking into account that the maximum stay in Machu Picchu is 4 hours, you will have some time left to explore the site on your own.
CIRCUIT NUMBER 4 (LONG LOW ROUTE)
Circuit 4 comprises the same route as Circuit 3 with the difference that it includes the Sacred Plaza, the Intihuatana, the Sacred Rock and surrounds the Three Gates, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Temple of the Condor. This section is the same as the one before with the difference that this route decides to ascend to the Sacred Plaza and continue a circuit similar to that of number 2.
With the difference that it surrounds both the Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana. This circuit is special and recommended for those who suffer from a disability or are quite old. It is recommended for those who need some kind of preferential care. This circuit is available in certain Machu Picchu tickets. As is in the case of the alternative route of Huchuy Picchu and Huayna Picchu.
***The 2 days or 4 days Inca Trail hikers will follow Circuit # 3.
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