Machu Picchu reopens today – is it safe to visit?

This reopening is being described as a ‘big step forward’ towards resuming normal tourism

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Wednesday 15 February 2023 15:06 GMT
The Incan site closed amid anti-government protests in January
The Incan site closed amid anti-government protests in January (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

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Popular tourist spot Machu Picchu is reopening on 15 February, after escalating political protests in Peru caused its closure.

Train links to the Incan site were suspended in December and at the time travellers were warned by the UK Foreign Office to take “particular care.”

Machu Picchu itself was then closed indefinitely at the end of January, leaving hundreds of tourists stranded.

Latin American Travel Association chief executive Danny Callaghan Callaghan said: “While there are still some sporadic roadblocks and reduced air services, this is a big step forward towards a return to normal tourism services.”

Thousands of tourists flock to the Peruvian citadel each year, with nearly 450,000 recorded for 2021 according to Statista.

Here’s everything we know about Machu Picchu reopening, whether travel companies are still operating holidays to the site, and what the current Foreign Office advice is.

Why was Machu Picchu closed?

Machu Picchu was closed on Saturday 21 January due to anti-government protests spreading across Peru.

Protests began after former president Pedro Castillo was removed from office, impeached and imprisoned for trying to dissolve Congress. Mr Castillo’s vice-president replaced him and protestors have been calling for the newly appointed President Dina Boluarte to step down.

As protests escalated and spread throughout Peru, The Culture Ministry said the tourist attraction and Inca Trail surrounding the site had been closed “to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general.”

More than 50 people had died as a result of the clashes when the decision was made to shut Machu Picchu.

Are travel companies still operating Machu Picchu holidays?

Sarah Bradley, managing director for Journey Latin America, told The Independent: “Visits are now possible to the vast majority of locations visited by tourists, including Lima and the coast, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Arequipa and Colca Canyon and the archaeological sites of northern Peru.

“Lake Titicaca is currently not accessible from Peru, although can be visited from La Paz, in Bolivia.”

Explaining that there is a reduced train service this week, Ms Bradley added: “We expect the normal timetable to resume from the 20 February.

“We continue to advise our travellers to build some flexibility into their itineraries, so that services can be re-scheduled locally, should the need arise.”

What is the current UK Foreign Office advice for travel to Machu Picchu?

Current UK Foreign Office advice updated on 13 February outlines that protests continue in Peru, including in cities Cusco and Lima.

“They are unpredictable and can escalate quickly and include violence,” the Foreign Office says, recommending travellers still take “particular care to avoid all areas of protests.”

Guidance outlines that protests may cause disruption to travel, which could include road blockades, train services being suspended and airport closures.

“If you are in Peru or planning to travel, monitor local news closely and follow the authorities’ advice,” the Foreign Office adds.

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