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Concern as Machu Picchu opening hours could be extended

Concern as Machu Picchu opening hours could be extended

Posted by Juan Gavasa on July 19, 2014

Rene Concha Lezama, governor of the region of Cuscu, has suggested that the cliff-top site could stay open until 8pm to meet the huge demand from tourists wanting to tick it off their bucket lists, according to Peruvian news sites.

This could double the number of tourists visiting the site, Henry Cuevas, the regional director of Foreign Trade and Tourism in Cusco, told the news website Peru21.

The current maximum is 2,500 visitors, a limit imposed to retain the site’s World Heritage status, granted by Unesco.

A tour operator in Cusco, Cusco.Peru.com, told Telegraph Travel that although no official announcement has been made yet, it expects the new schedule to be available in the second half of August.

“The first shift will be from 8am to 1pm and the second shift will begin at 1pm and run until 8pm,” a spokeswoman said.

But any increase in visitor numbers could result in the deterioration of the Lost City of the Incas. A proposal to build a new airport close to the site, able to cater for planes as large as the A380, is going ahead despite similar concerns.

Chris Moss, who wrote our essential guide to South America, said: "Peru should be thinking about other regions, other trails, other sites, both Inca and non-Inca - Choquequirao, Moray, the Huaca del Sol, to name just three - and looking to reduce the overall visitor numbers for Machu Picchu.

“More boots on the ground will lead to deterioration of the steps and walls, lawns and footpaths, and probably a need for more vigilance and protective ropes.

“Longer hours won't mean fewer people in the current opening hours but more demand all over. It's like widening a motorway. More cars come, that's all."

Larger tour operators say that their partners in Peru are waiting for official news that the proposed times will go ahead.

Stuart Whittington, Journey Latin America's head of product said: “Details remain sketchy and it's not clear whether the reported new opening times have been agreed.

“The current opening times are from 6am - for those early-risers who want to enjoy the magical solitude of Machu Picchu in the early hours - until 5pm, which is ideal for catching an early evening train back to the Inca city of Cusco.”

He was one of those who wondered about the impact that any extension of the opening hours, and subsequent increase in visitor numbers, would have on the site.

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