I once heard someone who had been traveling around Peru for serveral months saying that they weren't going to visit Machu Picchu. When I asked why, he said that it was too overrun with tourists and there just wasn't the air of mystery surounding it like some of Peru's lesser-known ruins. Up to a point, he's right. Machu Picchu, particulary during the high season, is overcrowded and has been seen by a ton of people all over the world. Its image graces the covere of books and posters, but there is a reason why so many people visit the ancient citadel. It is simply stunning, breathtakingly gorgeous. the ancient city is so remote, so high up and surrounded by mountains thet are as beautiful as it is. The clouds all seem to converge at this point that remained hidden for so long. It is a dream-like seting if there ever was one. If you are someone who can visit Egypt and not see the Pyramids or the Sphinx, maybe missing Machu Picchu won't be a big deal. Personally, I could not. It is the one location synonymous with travel to Peru. The site is the most popular on the entire continental and the driving force in tourism to Peru. But it is getting overwhelmed with visitors now. Tourism here in increases every year. During the high season, hoteles, trains, and tours need to be booked earlier. From May to Sept, the site is very crowded, with thousands of people visiting it daily. By around noon, most are there at the same time. Restrictions are necesary if Machu Picchu wants to remain for years to come.
Landslides are frequent in the area, and many officials are worried that the site could be a part of one of them if the tourist flow isn't slowed down. UNESCO named the site to its list of endangered world heritage sites and argues that if it sees more than 200-500 visitors each day it will sustain serious damage. That is far below the current numbers. There were plans to run cable carsfrom Aguas Calientes to the ruins, though after the a UNESCO ruling the government placed more stringent rules and the cars were disallowed. Liliting the number of tourists seems on the horizon, even though the powers that be in Lima don't seem to be considering it at this time. Restrictions have already been imposed on the Inca Trail. Only time will tell if they can be emposed on Machu Picchu before it is too late.