Cusco tourism office proposes alternative trail to Machu Picchu

An alternative hiking trail to Machu Picchu is being proposed by the head of Cusco’s Regional Office for Foreign Trade and Tourism, Víctor Hugo Pérez, to allow tourists access to the sacred Inca citadel earlier than expected.

Pérez said that if the Piso de Valle trail is approved by the Machu Picchu Management Unit, UNM, the citadel could be reopened for tourism in March, state news agency Andina reported.

Travel to Machu Picchu has been suspended since January when torrential rainfalls, mudslides and floods blocked the railway line into the UNESCO World Heritage Site and stranded some 2,000 tourists.

Travelers would be able to access the alternative trail by taking a bus from Cusco to the train station at Piscacucho at Km82. From there, the trail follows the right bank of the Urubamba River to Machu Picchu Pueblo – the town below the citadel. According to Cusco’s tourism guide association, Agotur, the tour would take three days to complete. The trail is currently used by residents from Machu Picchu Pueblo, Pérez added.

“We believe that the UNM should conduct a serious and technical evaluation of this path to determine its feasibility,” Pérez said.

Pérez had originally sent a proposal to Presidential Cabinet chief Javier Velásquez that would have allowed about 200 tourists a day to access Machu Picchu by helicopter. However, the National Institute of Culture rejected the proposal until conditions in the area improve. Machu Picchu is expected to reopen by April 1.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism announced a campaign to promote national tourism to Cusco and surrounding attractions by offering Peruvian travelers discounts on flights, hotels and tour packages. The campaign attracted more than 8,000 tourists to Cusco during its opening weekend.

The ministry said the campaign will be extended to visitors from other countries in March. Minister Martín Pérez said Tuesday Peru’s government is planning to invest $1.3 million to promote the campaign in Latin America, Andina reported. He said the campaign will be advertised first in Chile, Argentina and Brazil before it is promoted in other countries.

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