The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu reopened on November 1, 2020, this Sunday within the framework of a gradual reduction of COVID-19 infections in Peru, after being closed for almost eight months, a hard blow for thousands of people who make a living from tourism .
Hidden among the Andes mountains, the majestic stone citadel received its first visitors since November 2, after being closed since March 16 due to the pandemic.
“To be able to open Machu Picchu to the world, to be able to open our wonder, implies that Peruvians are resilient,” said the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Rocío Barrios, who will lead the reopening ceremony.
With the reopening, hopes are reborn in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, and in the towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which are a forced step towards Machu Picchu and face an acute economic crisis as a consequence of the pandemic, since 70% of its people lived from tourism.
“Today we highlight that capacity that Peruvians have to be reborn, of strength and struggle, that is why we say to the world today we are going to return and we say it from our most important icon, from our wonder of the world that represents and identifies Machu Picchu” said Minister Barrios.
In addition, he explained that the Safe Travels seal to the destination Machu Picchu involves strict compliance with biosecurity protocols from the arrival of visitors to the Aguas Calientes train station, as well as in restaurants, lodgings, transportation to the entrance to the Llaqta de Machu Picchu and inside the historic sanctuary.
“Today I am proud to deliver the Safe Travels Seal to the Machu Picchu destination. Now visitors when they think of returning to our wonder of the world can be sure that strict biosecurity protocols are followed here. Tourism returns responsibly and gradually ”, indicated Barrios.
“Today Machu Picchu opens with protocols to say we are reactivated with responsibility and extreme prudence because we are seeing everything that happens in the world, we are here to take care of them and take care of ourselves,” he added.
Hidden among the vegetation
The mythical citadel built in the 15th century, which received a million and a half visitors in 2019, placed Peru on the world tourism map in the middle of the last century.
The Spanish conquerors who subdued the Inca empire in the 16th century never knew that Machu Picchu existed, built on top of a mountain covered with vegetation that is not visible from the plain. That is why it is called the “lost city of the Incas.”
The citadel was “discovered” by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in July 1911, although some locals were aware of its existence.
Since it opened for tourism in 1948, it had only closed for just two months in 2010, when a flood destroyed the railway from Cusco.
Machu Picchu (Old Mountain in Quechua) is the jewel of Peruvian tourism and was chosen in 2007 as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in a worldwide online survey.
According to the new protocols, only 675 tourists will be able to enter per day, a third of that before the pandemic.
Protocols to enter Machu Picchu
The maximum capacity for the Llaqta de Machu Picchu is 30% of the 2,244 visitors in this first phase of its reopening. That is to say, the sanctuary will only receive 675 visits per day, 75 per hour and the entrance will be in groups of eight, including a guide, as José Bastante, head of the Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu, told this newspaper.
People who want to visit Machu Picchu must necessarily generate a ticket by registering on the web platform www.machupicchu.gob.pe, where they must indicate the date and time of their visit. It should be noted that the page will be enabled from this Monday, October 19.
“Entry has a zero cost until November 15, but if they do not generate their ticket before, they will not be able to enter. The page will start working on Monday ”indicated José Bastante.
If you plan to visit the Inca citadel, it is important to know that the time when the sanctuary will open its doors will be from 6 a.m. at 5 p.m.
You should know that the first reactivation phase includes the opening of section number 5 of the Inca Trail (km 104) and the Llaqta de Machu Picchu.
It has been reported that, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, strict compliance has been established mainly with:
- Social distancing
- Permanent and correct use of the mask
- Thorough cleaning and disinfection
- Frequent hand washing
- Footwear disinfection
- Special measures
Within the provisions created especially for the reality of this important tourist center, it has been decided that, in the case of the use of the famous trains of the Inca citadel, passengers that exceed 37.6 ° C will not be able to board.
Health protocol for the resumption of the train
The PeruRail company, operator of the train to Machu Picchu (Cusco), reported that they are working on safety and prevention protocols to avoid COVID-19 infections, which must be reviewed and approved according to the instructions of the Government.
“Our plans mainly comply with three basic principles: physical distancing, permanent and correct use of a mask and hand disinfection. The most important thing for us is the safety and health of our employees and passengers, ”he said.
He added that among the measures established in the protocol is that tourists who exceed 37.6 ° C in temperature will not be able to access the trains of the PeruRail company that offers the service between Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) and vice versa.
The company pointed out that one of the measures establishes that tourists who exceed 37.6 ° C in temperature will not be able to access the trains of the PeruRail company that offers the service between Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) and vice versa.
PeruRail staff and passengers must use the mask correctly and permanently throughout the trip and will use alcohol gel for hand disinfection. Train environments such as handrails, latches, floors, seats and equipment that come into contact with workers and passengers will be disinfected with sodium hypochlorite.
Users will have knowledge of the protocol from the communication channels “face-to-face sales points, travel agencies and from our website”, in addition to audiovisual announcements for tourist services.
“Once on board they will be reproduced to ensure that our passengers comply with all the protocols, our crews will be trained to guarantee all post-COVID-19 processes,” the company said.