What can be said about Machu Picchu that hasn't already been covered by sources far more qualified than this? It’s an incredible place, a mysterious testament to the achievements of ancient cultures, a beautiful shadow of a time far gone, a great thing to see and sit and think about.
That being said, it must be realized that all tourist attractions eventually reach a kind of equilibrium. Like an economic market in the long-term, they eventually respond to increasing demand, correct themselves, and balance out. Machu Picchu has reached that advanced state. They’ve made it accessible to almost all visitors, figured out the maximum amount of revenue they can generate, and basically recognized it for the national treasure/cash cow that it is. This is not necessarily a bad or wrong thing; it is simply what the powers that be have decided to do. It’s what the tourism departments of almost all governments decide to do. And yet, when this occurs, among other consequences, it inevitably allows backpackers to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: disparaging an activity as too “touristy”. The arrogance of believing that one group of tourists somehow has more of a right to experience a world treasure than another aside, the “touristy” complaint is generally a ridiculous and limiting argument. Yes, Machu Picchu is absolutely swarmed with visitors. Yes, many of them are slow, and loud, and easily confused, and altogether frustrating to be packed in with when you’re used to the backpacker crowd. But that’s the price you pay to experience a world-famous attraction. As a great Australian traveler once told me, “You know why some places are so touristy and full of people? Because they’re the best things.” He was right and, if you’re into hiking and ruins and history, Machu Picchu is one of the best things. It’s worth the annoyance its fame brings.