As predicted, Machu Picchu reopened to the public on Thursday, with Oscar Award winning actress Susan Sarandon on hand to welcome visitors back to the monument for the first time in more than two months.
Back in January, heavy rains washed out portions of the railroad tracks that run from Cusco to Aguas Caliente, the nearest town to the Inca fortress. The severe flooding that followed caused a great deal of damage throughout the region, and even resulted in the closure of the Inca Trail. With Peru’s biggest tourist attraction shut down, the local economy has suffered greatly, which is why the reopening was seen as such an important event. Repair crews worked overtime to complete a crucial 17-mile section of the railway, in order to meet the April 1st deadline.
Like a microcosm of the past two months, opening day began with a downpour, but later the skies cleared, and the sun shone through, allowing the first visitors to enter the ancient city. In honor of the reopening, locals performed an ancient ritual asking for a blessing from Mother Earth to protect the site and keep the visitors safe.
During the high season, Machu Picchu sees upwards of 2000 visitors per day, and with a lot of pent up demand, those numbers are expected to swell even higher in the months ahead. Most tourists planning a trip to Peru in the weeks ahead are just happy to have the opportunity to see one of the most spectacular ancient ruins anywhere on the planet.