After the heavy rains that stranded tourists, cut off the rail link, and left tens of thousands of locals homeless, Machu Picchu now has its re-opening dates firmly set – or as firmly as dates can ever be set in Peru.
Rain completely washed out the rail connection between the rest of the sacred valley (from Ollantaytambo) and Machu Picchu, but also did the same to the connection from the road that arrives in Santa Teresa otherwise known as the “back way in”.
To stop tourists from attempting to reach the ancient citadel and endangering their lives, authorities declared the site closed with no clear date as to when precisely it would re-open. While some visitors wisely explored Peru’s other multiple destinations as alternatives, the uninformed Hawaiian shirt and sandals brigade prompted cancelled their trips to Peru now that there was “nothing to see”.
Cusco’s suffering tourist industry now waits for repare work to be completed.
April and June
Authorities plan to re-open the archaeological site on April 1st, though five-star tourists need not apply just yet. The “back route” to Machu Picchu, traditionally involving cramped buses and a hike along railway lines is expected to be safe by then. What awaits to be seen is if authorities make this an “official route” to save the tourist industry, or refuse to support it as they always have to support the huge profit margins involved in the traditional route.
This traditional route – taking a train from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo – is set to re-established in June, just as the high season gets underway.
Repare work is going well according to Ferrocarril Transandino, charged with maintaining the route. The continued heavy rains predicted by Peru’s weather service for February has not arrived and has not added to the suffering to locals – a huge relief.