Peru to Install Cameras at World Heritage Site Machu Picchu After Tourists Illegally Sneak In and Damage Walls

In the wake of the expulsion of five foreign tourists who have been accused of damaging the ancient Inca citadel, Peruvian authorities announced Tuesday that they will introduce security cameras to Machu Picchu.

Jose Bastante, head of the archaeological park, told the AFP that 18 cameras will be located at three undisclosed but strategically important locations, as well as around possible access points in the mountains surrounding the complex. Drones will also be employed to increase security around the site.

"This will allow us to better control visitors and avoid any action or infraction to the regulations, also any type of risk," said Bastante.

Machu Picchu
After an incident which resulted in five tourists being deported, Machu Picchu will introduce drones and security cameras to the World Heritage Site. PABLO PORCIUNCULA BRUNE/AFP/Getty

The decision came as a result of the detainment of a group of tourists last week. The group of six—four men and two women between the ages of 20 and 32—were arrested at the site on January 11. They stand accused of sneaking into Machu Picchu illegally, entering the Temple of the Sun—a sacred location within the citadel—and damaging a wall by causing a stone slab to fall 20 feet from its mooring, cracking the floor and chipping the slab. Human feces were also found within the temple, indicating that at least one of the tourists had allegedly defecated within the sacred site.

Five of the tourists were deported to Bolivia on January 15, and have been barred from reentering Peru for 15 years. The sixth was fined $360 and must pay the Peruvian cultural ministry $1,500 to facilitate repairs after he admitted to causing damage within the Temple of the Sun. He faces a suspended prison sentence of three years and four months, but once his fines are paid in full he is permitted to leave the country.

"The damage caused is significant. The integrity of Machu Picchu has been broken," said Bastante.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site had already begun limiting entrances to some of its buildings in an attempt to avoid structural degradation due to foot traffic from tourists.

In 2011, entrances to the citadel were limited to 2,500 persons per day.An additional restriction was placed upon entry to Huayna Picchu, a location within the citadel, in 2018; only 400 visitors per day may enter the area. Tourists have also been warned not to take pieces of debris from the site by park officials.

Machu Picchu was a religious and cultural center for the Inca Empire. Built sometime in the 15th century, it was almost entirely abandoned after the Spanish conquest of Peru.