According to Peru’s transportation minister, the famous train to Machu Picchu will go back into service ahead of schedule, although it will still be three weeks before service is restored to the popular tourist attraction. Early estimates had the railway out of commission for as much as eight weeks after heavy rainstorms caused massive flooding and treacherous mudslides at the end of January. Those same heavy rains caused more than 1300 travelers to be stranded in the ancient Inca fortress for several days as well.
Machu Picchu is Peru’s top tourist attraction, and as such, it is vitally important that they restore access to it, and soon. There are reports that an alternate access route will be established by the middle of the month, but it will involve a five hour drive by car just to reach a different train that can deliver the travelers to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to the fortress. There are also a few companies using helicopters to deliver visitors to the site, but that is an expensive option that has limited availability at the moment.
Fortunately, the Inca ruins were not damaged by the storms, and the monument remains open to those that can make it to the site. Likewise, the Inca Trail, a popular trekking route to Machu Picchu, suffered little damage as well, but it closes annually in February for crews to clean and repair the route. That work is going on as scheduled and the trail should reopen as planned at the beginning of March.
If you’re planning a trip to Peru in the near future and had hoped to visit the ancient city, be sure to check with your tour operator or guide service as to the current conditions and options. It seems that things are very much in flux at the moment, but access is available for those who really want to go.