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Peru Flooding Limits Access to Machu Picchu Tours, Repairs Advancing Ahead of Schedule

03.02.2010

The official opening date for Machu Picchu is 1st of April, 2010 and our present assessment based on the information presented below is that there is a high chance that Machu Picchu will open by 26th of March.

Summary

Due to heavy rains in January throughout the Machu Picchu region of Peru the railway tracks between Ollantaytambo (in the Urubamba Valley) and Machu Picchu washed away in several locations. As a result there is no direct means of access to Machu Picchu by train through the Urubamba River Valley presently.

Machu Picchu Archaeological Site, Cusco and the Sacred Valley

The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu is undamaged and the site is closed until access can be restored. Conditions are normal for receiving visitors everywhere throughout the Sacred Valley and Cusco.

The Inca Trail Routes

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed every year during February for restoration and maintenance work. The National Institute of Culture (INC) has stopped sales of permits to hike the Inca Trail until transportation is restored. It is expected some time in March they will announce when Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail will re-open and permit sales will resume.

Repair Work Ahead of Scheduled March 31 Completion

FETRANSA (the Peru rail operator in charge of repairs on the train tracks) released an official communication dated 23rd February 2010, stating that due to significant progress on the train track repair in certain sections [] there is a high probability that the train tracks between PISCACUCHO (KM 82) and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) will be operational before the 1st of April date that had been previously slated. [] Once this section is repaired, tourists will be able to reach Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) by train in a bimodal service (bus from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Piscacucho and train from Piscacucho to Aguas Calientes).

The route referred to here is the traditional access route by train between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes.

FETRANSA also stated in their communication that the train track repairs between Hydroelectric Train Station and Aguas Calientes (necessary for hikers completing the Machu Picchu Mountain Lodges Trek) were concluded on the 11th of February. This train service is currently running, but tourists are not authorized on it at the present time.

Interim Access to Machu Picchu by Road Through March

Throughout March access to and exit from Machu Picchu is via road over the Andes between Ollantaytambo and Santa Teresa which is located just down river from Machu Picchu. From the jungle town of Santa Teresa it is a short drive to the Hydroelectric Station and another short ride by train to Aguas Calientes at Machu Picchu. This is an 7-hour journey including transitions and is generally not recommended nor expected to be necessary for travel after March 31st.

Machu Picchu Mountain Lodges Trek Route

The Machu Picchu Mountain Lodges Trek over the Salkantay pass will open for trekkers in March although we are not booking this trek until April when normal transportation back from Machu Picchu is expected to be open.

In a formal meeting at Promperu last week (the Peruvian Governments Tourism Promotion authority) a high-ranked Promperu representative stated that with FETRANSAs positive news about the train track repairs between Piscacucho and Aguas Calientes, they would push the opening date for Machu Picchu to be Friday, the 26th of March, 2010.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the reconstruction and provide updates to this document as we gather more information. Our lead Field Director in Peru is traveling into the Urubamba Valley this week to make a personal inspection of work progress and will report back to us by March 10