October 3, 2006

Sneaking into Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes, Peru

A traveler's reference for how to sneak into Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, the famed lost city of the Incas, is a massive money maker. Privatized by the government some years ago, adult admission into the site doubled from US$20 to an outrageously absurd US$40 in August, 2006. Thousands visit the complex every day, generating truck-loads of money.

Don't feel like encouraging the INC corporation by contributing to their scandalous behavior? Neither did I. Passively protest (and save a bunch of money in the process) by following in my footsteps and sneak into Machu Picchu.

Before The Ascent

You don't need to bring much in the way of gear—I hiked up in a pair of Diesel shoes (the only non-sandal footwear I had available). What you do need is…

  • Breathable, inconspicuous clothing, preferably in Earth-tones such as brown and green (avoid bright, visible colors such as red, white, and yellow);
  • Pants (not a skirt or shorts);
  • A long sleeve shirt is suggested;
  • A bandana—you're going to sweat—a lot;
  • A bottle or two of water;
  • A sweatshirt and/or rain jacket (the weather can change quickly);
  • A flashlight (for a possible trail descent at dusk); and
  • Bribe money—just in case (a small wad of 10 soles notes makes the most impact for your dollar).

Ready? Let's do it!

Instructions

If you're skipping the expensive multi-day trek and going up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, this is the most rewarding way to do it. Scoff at the folks taking the bus and smirk at those who climbed up all those jagged rock and dirt stairs—half of your exciting ascent will be illegal and done in the jungle.

A little over a kilometer from Aguas Calientes, a well worn tourist trail will lead you to the riverside base of Machu Picchu. Hoards of people zoom up and down the mountain in buses (US$6 each way), running along a dirt road that switchback up the hillside like beige-colored snake. The hiker trail is much more vertical in nature, but crosses the road a few times on the way up.

You will take a very rough path through the bush that leads to a series of off-limits Incan terraces, below the primary ruins. From the terraces you will use commando-tactics to make your way to the main site, emerge from the jungle (avoiding the security lookouts), and blend in with the tourists around you.

The journey can be somewhat difficult and dangerous at times, but hey, if it was otherwise everyone would be doing it.

Discovery

Entrance to the Forbidden Trail

Finding the entrance is the first challenge. Count the number of times your shoes touch/cross the road (the buses use) as you ascend. When you emerge from the vegetation and you're touching the road for the sixth time, look to the right. You should see a curve 10-meters from your position (one of several U-turns the buses must traverse). Herein lays the entrance to the forbidden path. It will probably take you 40–50-minutes to reach this point.

This section of the traditional hiker's ascent also marks the only part of the trail where you actually have to walk completely around the curve in the road to continue. The climb is uninterrupted by the road after this point—that is to say, it's the last time you will encounter the road until you reach the top.

The quick jumps across the road are fairly regular. If you haven't had a bus kick dirt up in your face in a while—you've gone too far.

Breadcrumbs

Wait until no one's around, push your ethics and morals aside, and enter the bush. Don't expect a groomed trail, this is an animal path, made by animals on tight budgets. Welcome to the herd.

A meter or two from the road you will notice a crude wall of trees and logs placed as an obstruction to the trail—your next indicator that you're at the correct place. Bypass them and continue along your way.

Pushing through the jungle

Don't worry about the noise level at this point, you're still a good distance from the site and protected by the density of the jungle. Focus on trying to find and follow the rough footpath through the bush (and avoiding animal/insect attacks).

Plastic breadcrumbs

A good natured soul has randomly tied scraps of white plastic bags to trees in an attempt to help guide/aid others—you will encounter these plastic breadcrumbs occasionally (perhaps half a dozen over the course of the trail).

After 10-minutes of pushing your way through the jungle you should arrive at your first waypoint: The base of the off-limit Inca terraces. That was the easy part.

The Incursion

If you've ever wanted to experience commando life, this is a great opportunity. The next 30-minutes will be spent juggling stealth and speed in an attempt to avoid detection.

Forbidden Terraces

The terrace is one of the most difficult parts of the undertaking. There is no discernible trail for you to follow, the terrain isn't friendly to climb around, and the area is openly exposed and visible from every conceivable direction (the road, the riverside base camp, the conventional footpath, and part of the complex at the entrance)—your presence will be noticed if you're not careful. Security is on the lookout for trespassers.

Waypoint #2, the continuation of the path to the top, is at the upper-left of the ruins (slightly diagonal to where you begin. Move/climb fast—catch your breath behind the occasional wall outcropping that allows for cover. The altitude will make sustained sprints challenging. Snap a photo of the ruins few get a chance to see up close.

The initial part of the trail that leads away from the terraces is just as exposed—watch out for buses that can report your presence to security. Stay low, crouch, and shuffle along the rock.

The trail is noticeably more worn here, presumably from the occasional naughty ticket-paying tourist who ventured down to take a peek at the off-limit terraces. There isn't as much dead leaf debris on this part of trail to make noise, but keep the decibel level in check. Proceed slowly, as your movement may be visible through the vegetation at some points.

15–20-Minutes after navigating the terraces and following the trail, you'll arrive at the base of the Machu Picchu complex. The trail will dump you out just below a series small hut-like buildings on a very large terrace, noted as structures for storage on a map of the site.

Watch out for guards! Periodically a guard will stand and monitor for tourists descending into the off-limits zone.

When the coast is clear speed-walk out of the jungle and make your way into the site as quickly as possible—loose yourself in the crowd/complex. Soon enough you'll just be another tourist, gawking at the amazing ruins.

What If…

What if you're caught emerging from the jungle?

You've got two options: Lie or bribe.

The best lie that I could come up with is to tell the guard that you've got diarrhea, had to jump into the brush to relieve yourself, and used your ticket to wipe. There are no bathrooms in the complex, and evidence of restroom activity was present not far down the trail.

Alternatively, if you've got to discreetly use the wad of notes in your pocket, remember, a ticket into Machu Picchu costs at least S$118.50—anything less than that spent on hush-money is a savings (and a story).

Time of Day

The time to avoid sneaking into Machu Picchu is in the early morning. Security guards are on full alert for people trying to enter into the site for sunrise. There needs to be plenty of tourists on the premises for this to be a successful incursion, so I would suggest an attempt any time after 10 or 11:00.

What You'll Miss

Because of your lack of ticket, entry into the popular Huayna Picchu hiking trail will be prohibited. Only 400 people are allowed on the trail per day, with names and ticket numbers recorded at a control point.

Good Luck

Judging by the condition of the trails, I'd say three or four people make the attempt each week.

The illegal hike into the complex was easily one the highlights of Machu Picchu for me, and I wish the same rush of excitement for you! If after your journey you find that any of the above is incorrect, please, let me know and I'll adjust.

Buena Suerte!

Related Writings

Comments:

Anonymous

November 9th, 2006

Thanks for taking the time to write this up! Info like this is very useful in planning my trip (May '07) to Peru.

Mikael Blom

November 11th, 2006

Hey dude, why don't you pay for yourself? It doesn't matter if it's a private company that runs the logistics around Macchu Picchu. It costs money to preserve the area and to clean up after the tourists. You would never steal a pair of jeans that you like from a clothing store with the sole argument that it was a private company trying to sell them to you and that they were too expensive, would you? Please do the people of Peru a favour and pay your entrance fee. You can be as cheap as you want when you're home again.

Anonymous

November 11th, 2006

How ignorant are you may i ask?

Anonymous

November 11th, 2006

developed world citizen stealing from a 3rd world economy. Sounds fairly hypocritical considering the tone of the article. Perhaps if we all steal from all the private companies in Latin America, the local populations will be better off?

Anonymous

November 11th, 2006

Bet you didnt give the guide a tip either?

Anonymous

November 11th, 2006

Yeah, what a cheap bastard you are! Congratulations on ripping off the local economy!

Argentina

Craig | travelvice.com

November 12th, 2006

Angsty commenters:

Although disrespectful and far from constructive, I'm leaving your comments up on the site.

Over 2,000 visitors enter into Machu Picchu per day — the majority of whom will be forking out US$40 (soley for admittance). The organization pays typical Peruvian wages, less than US$10 per day to their employees. How much do you think maintenance costs on this cash cow?

How much of the proceeds from park admission do you think actually filter down to the locals? Do you honestly think the proprietors of Aguas Calientes businesses are hurting financially?

Do a little math Anonymous and Mikael… Close to US$30 Million a year in revenue on gate entry alone… not counting the US$12 most folks spend on the bus ride to the top, or the US$5 for a bottle of water at the top.

Can you really sit there and approve of the price hike from US$20 to US$40 for entry in one year alone?

Do you really think my act of defiance impacted the bottom line of the INC Corporation?

This is beyond capitalism… it's extortion. A corporation trying to milk as much as they can before the site slides down the side of the mountain.

I feel no remorse, and nor should any who chose to exercise their right to push through the jungle as I did.

Anonymous

November 12th, 2006

"Do you really think my act of defiance impacted the bottom line of the INC Corporation?"

Let's be clear. It is theft, not defiance. Defiance implies some sort of resistance. You didn't resist anything (except paying), you went and enjoyed, anyway. No sign of a protest, no defiance. You wanted your cake and you wanted to eat it.

I am not sure they have a right to exercise "pushing through the jungle", as you claim.

Your conjecture in the profitability doesn't help your case, either.

lindsay

November 23rd, 2006

wow anonymous let it go…im a 22 year old girl from the states and i am down here in peru working for 2 soles an hour just like any other peruvian and believe me the fact that this guy snuck into the big mp is not hurting anyone…i plan on doing the same thing and im leaving tonight and the reason i have to do it this way is because no money from mp goes to raising the wages for us actually working here in south america-the women i work with will still be stealing food from the kitchen to make sure their children can eat enough whether or not i paid a stupid entrance fee…

Argentina

Craig | travelvice.com

November 24th, 2006

Thanks Lindsay — Good luck! :)

evan

January 4th, 2007

So I snuck in with mud butt, so if i could do it I'm sure you can handle it… Sneaking in is made out to be some scary shit, its not to bad, actually fun, but just take it seriously and you won't get caught.

Just a little advice.

1. At the first bus road you cross, the arrow points right, just to right of it there is a path, but its more of a muddy climb and will screw you up when counting to the 6th road, so the right arrow means go down the road a bit to the right. you should be on stairs the whole time till the 6th bus road.

2. Once you get to the bottom of the terrace if you go to the right there is a wall you can sit behind, perfect to seat two and you can inspect your route as well as peak your head over to see the buses, all without being detected. kind of a relief when your adrenalin is pumping.

3. the route we took was the staircase in the nook of the hill, right in the open but easy to climb and if you are wearing good colors you can stop often and blend in, just lay down. However you end up at the top center of the terrace, not the left like the directions tell you. This is good and bad. We headed up through the jungle from the center, it was a hard climb and we had to do some intense bush whacking, making a new trail. When we emerged we were on a little side trail of the park that goes to a vista point. We were totally undetectable and just continued around the loop as though anyone could be doing. Its a hard path but worth the safety, if more people do It the better the trail will get.

Anonymous

February 7th, 2007

Sneaking in to MP is theft from who, exactly? Maybe the Government of Peru. Yet is it right that all organisation of this country charge me more than a local? Racist or what? Im catching the bus to Santa Maria and staying in the small villages. Im certain that gives the local people far more money than a thousand tourists who catch the train and enter the site officially.

Anonymous

February 15th, 2007

Sneaking in is fun…I did it in the middle of the night which is worth seeing mp at night to do. We ended up getting caught, but once we were already in and had an awesome night hike. Some advice…

Start at 2ish in the morning and there won´t be anybody at the bridge or above at the ticket booth. With stealth you can walk up the whole way on the trail and run by the ticket booth. Then make your way up the trail a ways, away from the main loop. then wait wait wait until you notice tourists around and can blend in.

If you don´t pass the ticket booth in time and go the jungle, make sure to clean the jungle off you as it is fairly obvious that you have been sitting in a pile of leaves. Leave backpacks and walking sticks as they are obvious that you snuck in.

Also, if walking from Santa Teresa, the house directly before the train station, where you go down to the bridge, is owned by Sr. Mendoza who will let you camp for free if you talk to him for a bit. He also tells you how to get in for free, which is how we did it.

Lastly, paying for mp is a good thing to do, but if you don´t want to or can´t, go to mp anyway you can.

Anonymous

March 14th, 2007

I can´t see how sneaking in is a bad thing? Towns and cities like Nasca and Cusco are full of rich peruvian tour companies who give nothing back to the local communities.

To this quote: "Let's be clear. It is theft, not defiance. Defiance implies some sort of resistance. You didn't resist anything (except paying)" I say poo, defiance is defiance. I have spent a lot of time working with children in this country that work 15 hours a day for 6 or 7 soles a night! It is disgusting that the govt are not using the money for other things! The privatised tourism industry (the main source of income in Peru)shouldn´t be ignoring it´s own.

Screw them all, I plan to in the next few days!
wish us luck!
x

Moe

March 25th, 2007

From the Inca Trail, at night you can sneak around the last control booth pretty easily and walk the last 2 hours to the site. There's not really a gate or anything, the trail just kind of blends into the site. You might encounter a guard or two on the trail though.

Stonehenge is easier to get to, although you'll probably get caught once you're there. Not a big deal though.

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/MosesGates/?p=44

Alex

June 9th, 2007

This is DAMN HARD if not IMPOSSIBLE from the Aguas Calientes road. My two companions and myself (three more cunning chaps you could not hope to meet)attempted this route, and passed the first guard at the bridge (across the otherwise uncrossable river) by use of charm and deception. However, we were stopped at the other side of the bridge by the SECOND GUARD who just wasn't buying ANY of our stories. You can't pass the guards without a ticket, so your only chance from this route is to find a time when they're not there (difficult). You could, PERHAPS buy a (probably cheaper) ticket to the botanical gardens (themselves on the other side of the bridge) and then sneak in from there. We got rumbled and had to walk 1.5km back to town (not a bad walk, admittedly - pleasant scenery and all that) and buy tickets. I even went back for a second day for dawn and Huayna Picchu. I'd reccommend both - the first bus leaves at 5.40am to catch opening time at 6.00am. There's no point walking - they won't let you in any earlier. It's a damn good spot! Go!

Dan

June 19th, 2007

I wish i'd found this site before i went to MP in april, dang. i wouldn't fell bad at all, it costs almost $300 (american) just to get to Aguas Calientes, not really an easy way around that one. and if you really want to help, save that money and really help the peruvian people about a million better ways than adding to the bloated slush fund for corrupt bureaucrats.

Anonymous

September 25th, 2007

Dan how did you pay $300 to get to AC? You can buy a train ticket from the perurail office in cusco for 75 round trip? Unless of course you were farther out than cuzco.

Anonymous

October 25th, 2007

We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it!
Thank you soooooo much Craig, this day has absolutely been a highlight of my 1.5 years traveling throughout Latin America. Scurrying up through the forest was loads of fun, and the thrill of blending in at the top with tourists was just great. I think I would do it this way if even if I had a free ticket. I loved it.
B & M

Anonymous

October 25th, 2007

We started out in Terminal Santiago in Cuzco, where we hopped on the 8pm bus to Santa Maria for 18 soles.
After an eventful ride through the high mountains, we arrived at 4AM and caught the next minivan to Pueblo Hidroelectrico for 12 soles (it should have been 9 or 10 soles, but we didn't have much choice). From there, we stumbled out of the van in exhaustion, and quickly roused ourselves to begin the two hour walk to Aguas Calientes. It was a rather easy walk, and the mountains we walked through on the way were stunning. Once in Aguas Calientes, we checked into a 10 sol hotel, and prepared for the next day's trek up to Machu Picchu.

The next morning, we ate high energy food, and made out to the stair case up the mountain to enter Machu Picchu for free. At the sixth time the pedestrian path touched the bus road, we turned right, walked straight along the road and into the forest. We then climbed and scurried up, lying low when in sight of the buses. We left about 10 white plastic strips tied to trees along the way to guide future climbers. At the terraces, we climbed up the wall, ran to the stair case toward the right, and pressed ourselves against the left wall in the staircase to avoid being seen by buses or guards. We carefully darted up the stairs and then laid low in a dug out section until the sudden flow of buses had passed.

After dashing into the forest, we went about 5 degrees to the right, walking through occasional thick jungle (which was a blast!) until we finally saw the next set of ruins. We easily jumped up onto the path, walked around the covered corner unspotted, and stood at a high peak with pride, looking out over the valley below, acknowledging that we had just entered one of the seven world's wonders without giving the corporate owner one single cent. We ended up coming out way to the south, not far from the entrance to Wayuu Picchu, the path to the ruins at the peak of the highest mountain.

I recommend this to anyone that loves scrambling through the woods, practising evasive manoeuvres, and/or not supporting selfish corporations who pay their staff barely enough to eat while taking loads for the owners.

Anonymous

December 12th, 2007

Hey Craig! Ive been looking at your instructions for over a month now debating if I should do it or not, well, tonight I hop a bus to Santa María and make my way to Agua Calientes and I cant wait to try and get into Machu Picchu the jungle route. Wish me luck, I only have a one day shot to do it! I hope my nerves dont fail, but in any case thanks for the instructions!

Anonymous

December 14th, 2007

You so rock. I wish more people would post success stories. I'm having difficultly talking my wife into it. We will be there in Feb. and I hope to give it a try. Wish you could give more details on where to pick up the trail.

It would great if more people marked the trail. Here is a hint, we used to mark our trails back home with Stainless steel Thumb tacks pushed into the trees. They blaze the trail very nicely and a flashlight causes them to reflect at night. (Has to be Stainless though or they rust, and then you cant see them).

Anonymous

December 14th, 2007

Unbelievable. Thank you so much. This is way better than using the main entrance. 4 of us did this yesterday. 3rd time going to MP for me, and this was by far the best. To be honest it wasn't about the money. The corp running this is making a mint, and they do nothing to clean, restore, or improve the area. Also, the locals are paid about 25 soles a day. It all a big tourist scam, which officials on the take. Government ought to be ashamed, but then again anyone who travels Peru regularly knows going to see MP is where you will get screwed the hardest. (heck the train cost more than the flight) Hence the reason they dont put the road through.

As for your instructions, I found them a little difficult to follow, but none the less they were accurate. Would suggest more pics. Also, someone should mark the spot on the road where one must turn off to find the hidden trail.

Altogether I found the hike to be not very difficult at all, and at 40 years old, and considerably out of shape and over weight, that means its pretty easy for most.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

December 14th, 2007

Bravo — I love hearing about the (success) stories! Good job to all those who dared to be daring.

Anonymous

December 20th, 2007

Do you really want to impress me, I want to see see you sneaking into Disneyworld without paying. It would save 50-60 dollars but then you love challenges…

Anonymous

December 24th, 2007

What kind of real traveler prides himself in the brand of expensive shoes he takes to sneak into a 3rd world country historical sight, so as not to pay admission???

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

December 24th, 2007

They were on sale in Puerto Rico, and quite reasonable for about US$30.

And I mentioned the footwear to articulate the point that you don't need (expensive) hiking boots to go this route — sneakers will do just fine.

Sinu Kumar

December 31st, 2007

While admitting the fact that it costs to maintain such a structure, $ 40 admission fees is a bit too much. translated to my local currency the indian rupee its equalent to Rs 2000/-

Jeremy

February 9th, 2008

Thank you for posting such well documented and informative instructions for budget travel. I live in Cuzco, and I appreciate the help. The posts on this wall meant to detract from your wonderful contribution are misdirected and caddy. I will be sneaking into Machu Picchu, and I will be donating the money that I save to help the native peoples of Peru. The same people who were vastly reduced in number and influence by the ancestors of those who now charge $40 to view the remnants of an empire they did not positively contribute to. Thank you again,

Jeremy

Anonymous

May 26th, 2009

September 6, 2008

Thats the day myself, a fellow American, Argentine and Peruvian met and decided to sneak in. I hadn't read this website but heard from a local. We started at 3am and there were no sign of guards on the bridge, or anywhere. We proceeded up the the path and took the detour. Heres where it got dangerous. We all had sneaker or hiking shoes, save the Peruvian who only had dress boots, consequently she was last up and almost fell several meters. It can be very steep and if you're out of shape this can be treacherous. Smokers, like myself, especially should think twice considering the altitude. When we got to the first remnants there was a cave we snuck into since it took 3 hours and was only 6am but plenty of light. We slept 2 hours but there aren't other tourists till 9 or 10ish. The Argentine and I didn't see anyone and decided to go for a smoke, stupid move. Who we thought were guards spotted us and came down. Turns out they were workers and took 40 soles, and even came back to tell us when the coast was clear. unbelievable. Best story i have since being in south america.

menglish25

August 11th, 2009

That was amazing, one of the most exciting things I have ever done.

We started the hike at around 7:30 and made it to the top at 9:00. When we reached the bottom of the terraces we hit our first obstacle. There was a chain linked fence along the top of the walls and around some parts of the terraces. I don´t know if this is new or if I just missed reading about these when I was preparing for the hike. We climbed over the fence at a spot where there is a locked door and that was that. When we emerged from the jungle at the top we had to first wait for some voices to dissapear (maybe guards?). The place we came out was not by the storage sheds or whatever; we came out right into one of the main tourist walking routes. I feel like the paths really fan out towards the top of the jungle trek and that the further right you go the safer it will be. It took us awhile, but after seeing a few tourists and terraces we realized that we had made it!!!

Thanks for giving me one of the greatest adventures of my life! Its a story I´ll never forget!

Australia

Craig | travelvice.com

August 12th, 2009

Outstanding — I'm please that so many are having so much fun with this little journey.

I'm curious, is that little sign I put up at (Cuzco's) Hostel Loki in 2006 still posted in the computer room?

Karen

October 20th, 2009

Thanks so much for posting this. Were you able to go to the Sun/Moon Temples?

Anonymous

December 16th, 2009

Hey this is awesome. I also Live in Cusco and it does not cost much for cleaning or restoration at 10-25 soles 3-8 dollars a day per worker. They charge like 10 soles a water and the cost 1 sole in Cusco it is all the the Bengies at Macchu Picchu. I have been twice and really have no desire to return, except now that I know of thisadventure I just may.

stefan

January 8th, 2010

We followed your instructions and did it few days ago. We didn´t find the path you are telling about but after 6th crossing of the bus road there is a locked door that we jumped through. After 50m ther is another door. The path is pretty good. Is wasn´t that dangerous to cross the tarraces, and there was no guards at the Machupicchu. We just walked out from the forest just beside these houses with roofs (storages). It was that easy.
We also walked down the trailway from km 82nd to Aguas Calientes and back. It looks like it´s 28km but my GPS says it´s 32km. It´s not a easy part. Especially on the way back (and when it´s raining)…

everything is possible :) cheers,
Stefan & Tomas

Saigon Son

January 27th, 2010

I did MP in 2008 and talked to a lot of peruvians, many of whom were descendants from native civilizations. And I was appalled (though not too surprised) to learn from them that MP is really only for tourists. Most peruvians don't have enough money to ever see MP. How incredibly absurd don't you think? There is no eco-tourism here, just exploitation of natives. I wish I knew better, and might have skipped the ruins altogether.

The United Kingdom

Matt

April 18th, 2010

Did you ever think that maybe the price is so high to stop such a large number of visitors going to Machu Picchu, thus leading to the environmental degradation that is occurring there today? Just a thought :)

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

April 18th, 2010

Right right right Matt… we'll crank up the price AND continue to market it as Peru's premiere tourist destination… exactly what they had in mind.

Have you ever even been to Perú? See a lot of concerned Peruvians there wondering about impact on their environment? No to both? Yeah, thought as much.

The United Kingdom

Anon

May 8th, 2010

When looking round Machu Pichhu 2 years ago (after paying the entrance fee) I discovered a proper path heading away from the site at the north-east end near the urban sector. It was proper metalled (inca) path that dropped down into the jungle it didn't follow it too far as i didn't have much time on the site but i thought it would be good place to come out if you're sneaking in. I guess it would be along way from the road up though so a lengthy walk, if you could find it.

The United Kingdom

Peruvian girl

September 29th, 2010

So.. many people sneak into MP apparently.. and they do it.. to make an statement about how expensive it is? to protest against low wages paid to peruvians? rrrrightt…. You're many, maybe you could start a movement, write letters to the peruvian government, make demonstration in Cusco or Lima etc.. asking for conditions to be changed.. that would be something good to see.. that's if you really do it for the reasons you say.. because as far as I see that 'passive protest' only benefit your pocket.

The United States

dc_publius

December 6th, 2010

They do it in part because they are cheap and have a sense of entitlement thinking that they can enter someone else's property just because it's a natural wonder.

The thing is, in a lot of 3rd world countries the current legal owners became legal owners through corruption, bribery, and sometimes violence.

When Disneyland is built, you know that Disney did it fair and square. They bought the land and they developed it. In case of MP, some rich powerful people just decided to lock it up and start charging for access.

So while I would never find sneaking into Disneyland acceptable, I do think MP is at least somewhat different case.

The United States

master chief

December 9th, 2010

because we all know all the money goes to the locals…lmfao .. sneak in good for you!

Australia

tom

December 17th, 2010

yo. if your maths are correct that would be 30million a year! do 2000 people really go each day or is it meant to be 200.amazing. i knew it was popular but still! wow.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

December 17th, 2010

@Tom:
Approximately 850,000 to 1 million tourists are now visiting Machu Picchu every year. There is a 2500 visitors/day admission limit that is reached daily during the high season.

The entrance fee is currently S/. 128 (US$45.50) and rising steadily.

Assuming some 80% of the visitors at the low end of that figure are paying full price (not using the student or Peruvian citizen discount), and that would still be some US$31 million in entrance fees for those visitors alone.

Peru

sebastian

January 29th, 2011

i did it a few days ago and apparently things have changed a bit. first of all, they put a guard on the two bridges (just out of A.C., before the hike trail begins), asking you for your entrance tickets. the guy is kind of stupid, so it just takes 5 minutes to convince him to let you pass without the tickets. (say f.e. that your friends went by bus and they took the tickets).
the hidden trail starts indeed in the sixth crossing, but it begins after 5 meter of jungle you have to pass first. cross the inca terraces like mentioned. than we had some problems finding the trail after the terraces, i guess we just lost it. amyway, we reached MP after pushing through the jungle some 15-20 minutes more.
we didnt have to bribe any of the guides as nobody saw us sneaking in.
good luck with the trip, its truly an adventure!

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

January 30th, 2011

@Sebastian - Thank you for the update! Great news for folks looking to spice things up a bit.

The United States

Julio

March 19th, 2011

Before going to Machu Picchu, take a look at the "old" photos. The new buildings bear little resemblance to the original site… in fact, some of the stones and especially the “intihuatana” (the “hitching post of the sun”), was placed there while Disney was making a film many years ago! The “colque” storage complex was never such! (“Colque”literally, is “silver” in Quechua, but in modern slang means “money”). The Quechua (most know them as Incas) did not value silver or “money” as such.

Value and stores of value were accounted via the “quipus”, which had nothing to do with “money”. Value and stores of value were in terms of agriculture, livestock (alpaca, llama, etc) and workers to produce. All of the buildings at Machu Picchu did not exist in the present form at the time the city was occupied by the Quechua.

The excessive entry fees only go to the current greedy operators who corrupt the original site with construction to deceive the tourists. Don’t be discouraged from going there by this greed, but likewise, don’t fall prey to it!

Peru

Ed

May 17th, 2011

Hey!
So not this blog should be about money or the politics of MP and the country; but just to describe my personal experience of visiting just today… I'll go on. I came to AC from Cusco where I obtained a Bolleto Turístico (Tourist Pass) at the student rate and happily visited all the sites on the pass with simply my University of Connecticut ID. With the information that the woman and the guards had given me in Cusco, I was under the impression that I would be able to use the same ID to get a ticket for MP at the student rate… I was wrong. After it was explained to me by a municipal INC employee that "Machu Picchu has a much different and more sophisticated system than Cusco which requires that students have an International Student ID which is ONLY available is Cusco, NOT Aguas Calientes," I was forced to shell out the full 123 Soles at the general price.

In order to get the most for my money, I awoke at 300 am and was on the 2nd bus of 30 people to arrive at MP so that I could not only be within the 2500 that are allowed to MP each day but also so that I could be one of the 400 to obtain a separate stamp (free of charge) which grants one permission to visit Huchupicchu, Huyanapicchu, and the Temple of the Moon. I had a beautiful and amazing time visiting the first two mountains but as I arrived at the backside of Huyanapicchu I learned that I would be allowed to visit the Temple of the Moon because it closes at 1100. Not only was this a huge disappiontment but that portion of the park is entirely closed at 100 pm which hardely gives one enough time to explore the most scenic and majestic portion of the park. Although the primary Incan ruin site is undisputably incredible, these other mountain sites give an exclusive and unique view where you can better embrace the beauty of MP and the surrounding landscape.

I would love the thrill of sneaking into the park "commando-style," to give me another visit so that I could at least make the 50 min hike to the Temple of the Sun (which I couldn't see because it closes earlier than the park itself; other information the park society refuses to tell you) but I would truely want to visit the Moon Temple which requires a special stamp on the ticket and signing in and out of a control point. The passage to this ruin (I believe) requires traversing over Huyanapicchu and then down it's side opposite to MP.

Would you or anyone know of a way to get to the Temple of the Moon without passing through Machu Picchu and then over the other mountain? Also, does anyone have any other helpful info/hints about sneaking in at night or simply sneaking in, in general?

Good luck, and thanks!!

-Ed B

The United States

gilad

May 26th, 2011

i have visited this site in 2005 and gladly paid the fee.
the peru is very poor in money and rich in nature and culture- those can't help the peruvian people as the small children of peru can't feed on the jungle or study to the light of ancient ruins… so the peruvian government makes money by "leasing" their nature and culture. this is called "TOURISM" because the peruvian people cannot pay like the relatively rich tourist, and because they have strong entitlement to witness their own cultural and natural assets, it is very common to have special tourists rates.
i know the peruvian government is somewhat corrupted and that most of the money doesn't go to the poor, but in peru investing in transportation or power is important as well.
now, if any of you still want not to sneak but to trespass into the site, go ahead, but be aware that you are very literally stealing from the country of peru and thus from each and every of its citizens. that itself is not horrible but please don't be so insincere and hypocrite by trying to make it look like a nice adventure or the right thing to do.
anyway, have it your way. i literally hope that if you try to sneak in you'll break a leg.

Peru

anonymous

June 2nd, 2011

if anyone gets to my comment. i lived in peru for some time. that money does NOT go to the peruvians, but to an elite group that has more than enough, and uses their money and influence to exploit the common people. seriously this money does not go to anyone who needs it. wanna be charitable, sneak in, and give 1 tenth of the ticket price to a local. theyll be delighted

Peru

IMPORTANT INFO

June 4th, 2011

DONT TRY IT i just did. they ask for tickets at the bridge, and they dont use the other bridge, and you have to show your ticket to take the bus. and crossing the river at another point is impossible because the terrain on the side of the river is not walkable. sucks but they were onto us fellas. capitalism wins yet again

The United States

Israel Eugene Gillette

June 8th, 2011

Awesome, I can't wait to try. Perhaps I can get my friends nightvision
and camp there at night

Belgium

sebastian

June 20th, 2011

as i told you, tell the guard at the bridge your friends (who went by bus) took your tickets but you wanted to walk. so supposedly you meet up the hill at the entrance to receive the tickets from your friends….but at the sixth crossing of course you enter the jungle and you never get to see the official entrance!
i entered with a guy from brasil, with a story we told the guard too dumb to mention. the guard is so stupid he takes every story as long as you stick to it
capitalism doesnt win peeps come on you are travelers, use your creativity!!!

Peru

Sam

August 6th, 2011

I agree with Sebastian on this one. I just snuck into Machu Picchu two days ago. At first I didn't think the guards could be that dumb and his advice would actually work and so I tried swimming across the river first. A rainstorm the night before made that idea not possible.

I should have just went with what Sebastian said first. I told the guard at the bridge that my girlfriend took the bus and had both tickets. Whatever your excuse stick to the same story and in two minutes the guard lets you pass.

I didn't find that jungle entrance at the sixth pass but found the gate instead. This is really not too difficult. I did it in the early morning in the fog and rain turning the last part after the terraces into a bit of a mess but I was blending in with the rest of the tourists in no time. Good fun.

Ecuador

Nelson

October 11th, 2011

OK hey you guys!!!
SAM hey there dude!! ok im gonna be y cusco on october and im looking forward to sneak in to MP… I think we have it clear that the reasons are more than enough in top of all the fun that we can get by doing it!!
So how exactly is it that I have to do it Im a lil confused on the crossings… also the time that this should be done?? one last thing im planing to sneack in with my girlfriend.. so is it recomendable for a tiny girl?

Chile

S

December 21st, 2011

Hey has anyone attempted this lately? I'm planning to make a go in March and would like to know what has changed.

Peru

ALEX

February 17th, 2012

GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The United States

S

June 5th, 2012

My buddy and I tried doing this in late February but the guard was absolutely steadfast in denying us.

I then tried to enter by the "old Inka trail". Basically you have to follow the railroad down 9k to cross the next bridge. From here I tried climbing a rockslide and was soon free-climbing a rock face. I told myself it wasn't worth risking death at the moment.

I ended up grudgingly paying and viewed my ascent the next day from Machu Picchu. Apparently if you follow the power lines from the hydroelectric plant it looks as though you could enter. It would take a very solid day, think 10 hours or more and you've got to be in really good shape.

I can't tell you it's 100% certain, hell I can't even give you a 50-50, but it would be a a story for the ages. That jungle is seriously gnarly!

The United States

Griff Green

June 26th, 2012

YEAH!!!! I just snuck in to MP successfully a week or so ago… Thank you so much Craig for your awesome walk thru… I took a bit of a different route then you did… I will make a detailed blog post for it soon, but for now I made a youtube video showing how I did it… Check it out! http://youtu.be/f2RXWaFd-Us

My blog is http://realtraveling.wordpress.com check it out to see how my friends and I snuck into the Saqsaywaman ruins in Cusco and in a couple days I will have the MP blog up.

Thanks Craig!

Peru

Lukas Cech

December 13th, 2012

Have some new info that might be useful.

I attempted this on the 12th of Dec 2012, but almost got caught.

I set out at 3 in the morning, with no one around, but they are well prepared for this. There are trigger wires (army stile!) around the gates on the bridge, one just before the bus bridge (which doesn´t have fences, so easier to jump) and one between the bridge and the guard hut.
As soon as I triggered one, there was a guard at the opposite side of the bridge (within 1 minute) with a torch.

Something to be aware of if you´re sneaking in during the night…

Another thing I learned is that yes, the PeruRail money goes to Chilean rich business folk, but the Machu Picchu ticket money stays with peruvian people and not Chile. (The fact that you pay in soles, not dollars gives it away too). So by sneaking in you´re not making any statement, but actually are taking from the local people. Just avoid the overpriced trains.

So after this unsuccessful attempt, I happilly bought my ticket. Of course, never paid a dime for the trains, took the local buses.

The United States

Chael

January 4th, 2013

Hmm, lots of debate here. Maybe it's not about money and instead about adventure for those who want to sneak in. Maybe they're sick of the monotonous drear of commercialized tourism and the only way to feel a sense of authenticity is to break the rules and be alone with the site. Selfish? Hell yes. But where one person doesn't give a shit about one social injustice, they care a hell of a lot about another. I can't get into organic food because I think it's ridiculous to think about that while there are still people who starve to death. I can't be bothered to think of how my money impacts a local economy when the arbitrator is a Chilean company that takes a huge chunk to pay off Peruvian politicians who would otherwise listen to the citizens of Aguas Calientes, most of whom want a road. Thank god for all those who feign to give a shit and pay 40 dollar entry or $1000 luxury caboose to get to MP—that money might be better spent giving it directly to the locals, if you care so dearly. So it's always about selfishness, one way or another. The paying customers want to see machu picchu and like tossing a coin to a beggar they feel empowered to protect their transaction because they 'helped'… it's false righteousness… it's selfish… and those of us (yes me too) who sneak in are selfish too, but at least we're not smug about it…

On a more practical note, I snuck in in October 2011. I think the trip wires mentioned here must be new–that's probably because they're tired of us gringos sneaking in–but then again it gives the guards and ourselves more stories, and damn, trip wires sound like fun. We snuck up to the bridge guard house and into the shadows around to the bridge on the right. It's locked, so we shimmed down on the bridge's rafters to halfway across the bridge, and from there went prone and crouched/ran to the other side. No trip wires. We went up the regular stairs across the switchbacks to the second to last thatch resting hut, behind which you find matted down vegetation. Following this you come to an old Incan wall, which you might try to climb over, unless you think it's no ok to touch. Beyond that, the terraces. I was there by 2am, and saw the flashlights of the guards–we used none. We found our way to the Sacred Rock and slept in there. We emerged at 10 when there were plenty of tourists everywhere. No shame. Wrote a narrative about getting to the site from Cusco and all here — http://www.velabas.com/hitchhi.....teresa.php

Peru

Happy G.

May 24th, 2013

It is 2013, have things changed?

We are going to try to sneak in now! Well, not "now" but in a few days! :)
How are we going to do it? Well, with all the new stories of trip wires, laser detectors, infrared military-style visors and motion sensors all over the place, hopefully we will be able to fool even their best drone surveillance systems, and succeed! ;)
We will give an update on how we did it after the fact…

PS: as far as all the political debates about sneaking-in vs good/bad… this debate is not even CLOSE to an option worth consideration… I will consider paying when they accept BITCOIN! :)

Canada

Happy G.

June 13th, 2013

UPDATE 2013:

IT CAN BE DONE!!! The most "difficult" part had to be the crossing the bridge part… there you just have to be sneaky, lucky, witty… or all of the above!

We just went straight into it, and showed our passports (no ticket) played a bit of Jedi Mind Trick, and he let us cross after confirmation from their "command central" that they don't know who we are, but our name sounded close enough to someone's who they did have on their list, so that was "good enough" to allow us to enter for further scrutiny.

Otherwise, at the 6th roadcrossing we didn't find the proper entrance (mainly because of construction on the road with workers and tools..etc) so we just entered the jungle a bit more "up" in plain view of the workers, and while waving toilet paper. After that, we full on COMMANDO SCALED UP during the day for about 3 hours until we finally found a path that led us to the first terraces, and from there everything was as posted above… all in all a SUPER GREAT ADVENTURE!!!

Thanks to all the rich tourists who make all the security possible, and make this a super exciting climb!

Btw, if we would have just continued up, up (beyond the 6th crossing) there is a point where you can see a rickety gate with a cheap metal door-like structure, if you enter the jungle there, the easy-to-follow path is just behind, and it would be only about 20-30 minutes to enter from there.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE COOL SNEAK-IN-ers!

PS: we were too cool for all the new security measures, and so the infrared detectors didn't catch us, our stealth foiled the drones, and since we didn't follow the "regular" path, we completely side-stepped all the trip-wires, laser sensors, etc… okay there was this one time that a motion sensor noticed us, but I made completely fool-proof jungle/monkey sounds, and disoriented the response-team sent to investigate, and they deactivated the nearby sensors due to "animal" activity! ;)

The United States

Erik

September 19th, 2014

God Bless You, Sir!

Machu Picchu by Gwaihir - TribalWar Forums

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