Last week we received the news that Machu Picchu would be reopening on April 1st after being closed for much of the past two months following heavy rains and flooding in the area. Peru’s top tourist destination is generally accessible by two methods, a train to the mountaintop fortress or by making the four day hike through the Andes along the Inca Trail. While the train is set to return to service on March 29th, the Trail will remain closed until late April.
Machu Picchu itself received no damage from the heavy rains that washed out the railroad track in late January, and stranded hundreds of tourists for several days. It has taken weeks to clear the debris and rebuild the tracks, which is why the ancient site is ready to reopen finally.
Unfortunately, the Inca Trail didn’t fare quite as well. The torrential rainfall washed out several sections of the route and it has taken longer than expected to get it repaired and safe for trekkers once again. Traditionally, the Peruvian government closes down the trail for maintenance in February, but due to the rain damage, that was extended through March as well. Now, travel insiders are saying that the trail should be ready to go in a few weeks time, and bookings are currently available for May. In the meantime, they suggest taking one of the several alternate treks, which offer similar experiences, and are less crowded, but don’t have the big payoff in the end.
As the reopening nears, the tourist industry in Cusco and around Machu Picchu is preparing for an influx of visitors. Many of the locals earn their living directly from tourism, and it has been a rough couple of months, economically speaking, for the region. April 1st is seen as a light at the end of the tunnel at long last.