Machu Picchu reopens to first wave of tourists since closure in late January

Peru’s famous Inca citadel Machu Picchu reopened to tourists on Thursday after closing in late January due to flooding and mudslides that washed away large portions of the rail line leading to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Click on Image to view RPP slide show of Susan Sarandon at Inca citadel

According to daily La República, Edgar Miranda, the mayor of Aguas Calientes – the town that sites below Machu Picchu – said that dancing groups and musicians dressed in traditional clothes greeted some 900 tourists who arrived at the towns train station. By the end of the day, more than 1,200 tourists visited the ruins, according to Andina correspondent Percy Hurtado Santillán.

Among the first wave of tourists during Machu Picchu’s much anticipated reopening was Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, who was decorated with the Order of Sun medallion, state news agency Andina reported.

Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC) is rationing entrance tickets to Machu Picchu to ensure the Inca citadel isn’t inundated by visitors. The INC said tourists could only purchase the tickets in Cuzco and that anyone wishing to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu would have to show they have a return ticket and confirmed seat on the train from Aguas Calientes to the train station at Piscacucho.

Current access to Machu Picchu is done by traveling by road from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo to Piscacucho at Km82, where tourists can board a train to Aguas Calientes at Km110.

Tourism Minister Martin Peréz told Radioprogramas del Peru that in the first few days of operation the autovagons would limit the number of passengers to Machu Picchu.

“The train line is in perfect working order, but as a precautionary measure the autovagons will carry between 800 and 1,000 tourists per day,” Peréz said. “Little by little we will increase that number to 2,500 or 3,000 tourists.”

This photo taken Saturday, March 27, 2010, by the Peruvian Travel Trends blog shows the extent of damage to the rail line between Ollantaytambo and Piscacucho. Click on image to enlarge photo.

Transportation and Communications Minister Enrique Cornejo told Andina that repairs to the 110Km’s of train tracks between Cuzco and Aguas Calientes are still scheduled to be completed by June 30.

“We have a true challenge [at Km79],” Cornejo said. “The river and the rains washed out 300 meters of the track, there is bare rock. They are constructing the base and the rail line and we are calculating that on June 30 the line to Cuzco should be reconstructed.”

Machu Picchu was closed in late January when the Vilcanota river swelled and swept away parts of the railway, stranding tourists at Aguast Calientes.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *