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Naked Tourists and New Restrictions at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Some silly news from Machu Picchu—on the growing trend of foreign visitors stripping down for photo-ops—led us to more important news regarding the ancient Incan citadel: To combat overcrowding (of clothed and unclothed tourists) the Peruvian government has announced new regulations for the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What's in store for travelers to the ancient citadel? According to a policy draft obtained by local newspaper Peruvian Times, here are some of the major changes:

• Everyone must visit the site with a guide
• Guides must follow three official circuits through the ruins
• Visitors can spend no more than three to five minutes at key points, including the temples of the Sun and Condor
• (And, yes, nudity is still strictly prohibited)

The T+L Take? New regulations are certainly needed to cope with the ridiculous overcrowding—for the benefit of travelers and of the fragile site itself. It's hard to contemplate the sacredness of Machu Picchu when sharing the peak with 4,000 other tourists. That said, these and other recent regulations harm the visitor experience by all but eliminating the possibility for self-reflection. If seeing one of the New Wonders of the World is on your to-do list, by all means venture to Machu Picchu. If contemplating Incan ingenuity and the meaning of life is what you're after, opt for the less-visited but no-less inspiring sites Llactapata and Choquequirao.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team.

Photo by iStockphoto

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