Updated: September 17, 2020
Despite the fact that Peru was the first country in Latin America to enact the general quarantine, when there was hardly a record of 71 cases, COVID-19 has continued to advance due to the breach of isolation in some areas of the country, which has led to the presence counting almost 2,000 of the dead and 70,000 of the infected. Find the exact data here.
The restriction of mobilization in Peru to avoid infection by Covid-19 includes Machu Picchu closing. All tours are temporarily canceled until 1 October 2020.
The official advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) is that there is no need to stop any travel plans. However, the borders have been temporarily closed in Peru while monitoring the coronavirus contagion curve.
The town of Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Town, the closest place where hotels, hostels, and restaurants for tourists are, remains in quarantine as well as the rest of the country.
Many tourists are wondering: is Machu Picchu open? The answer is 'no'. It was closed since the Peruvian government ordered nationwide quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, the tourism industry is in crisis and its recovery (according to estimates) will be slow. It was the first time of Machu Picchu closing due to the pandemic.
In search of reactivating tourism, the Peruvian government declared that on 15 July 2020 is Machu Picchu open again, but only for Peruvians. The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu will be free for children and senior national travelers (60+ year old) from July 15th to December 31st of 2020 as part of the measures adopted to revive domestic tourism.
In the first week of October, the Peruvian government will reopen the borders and foreign travellers will be able to start visiting Machu Picchu and all Peru!
Also, the Inca Trail will reopen. The Inca Trail will be free for minors and those over 60. So, you can enter the Inca Trail without tickets. However, it is very important to book in advance with a local tour operator. Although the Inca Trail is for free, you cannot enter alone since this is prohibited! You will need to hire a local Tour Guide, Cook and Porters.
In addition to Machu Picchu, the main tourist attraction of Peru, tourists will also be able to visit 54 other cultural sites and 22 protected natural reserves for free from July 1 to December 31 2020.
The list of all tourist attractions published in a decree on Monday, September 14, includes places such as the Nazca Lines - the famous geoglyphs made 1,500 years ago by the Nasca Civilization. The glyphs of geometric and animal shapes can be seen in all their magnitude from the air only.
Other exceptional sites included in the list are: Caral - the oldest city of both Americas constructed 5,000 years ago, and the citadel of Kuelap - commonly known as "the Machu Picchu of the Northern Peru" built 1,500 years ago by the Chachapoyas, a civilization that dominated the northernmost Andes before the Incas.
The Wari archaeological complex situated in the Ayacucho Region which once used to be the capital of the first great empire of South America that preceded that of the Incas.
The same benefit of free entrance will apply to Chan Chan - the largest adobe city of the Americas and the former capital of the Chimú Empire (situated on the outskirts of the current Trujillo City). Further north, one can visit the legacy of the Moche and the Sipan Culture (in the Lambayeque Region).
Last but not least, there can be seen near the Chiclayo City the Tucume Pyramids and the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum where the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, the first great ruler of ancient Peru, is preserved. It might be compared to Tutankhamun for the lavishness of his burial at Huaca Rajada which is also included in the list.
To carry out the reopening of the main tourist attractions in the country, the government will issue more regulations in the next 30 days to regulate tourist visits in accordance with the protocols of the Ministry of Health.
The quarantine will remain in place until the 30th of September 2020, the time when the Government hopes that some of these measures, such as the reactivation of transport nationwide, can be relaxed which would also facilitate the gradual resumption of the tourism sector.
However, this step anticipated last week by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Edgar Vásquez, is still under evaluation based on the control of the pandemic.
The Peruvian authorities have decided to take action for 15 days by restricting the mobility of people in the territory as well as closing the borders until the end of September. Food supplies and the movement of people who wish to return home have also been guaranteed. Supermarkets, pharmacies, health centers, and banks will remain open during these days and the mobilization of their workers is guaranteed.
The Peruvian government has also published the official budget and the implemented action plan to treat the virus:
Since the virus is NOT airborn and thanks to specialized aircraft ventilation designed to clean and ventilate the air, air travel should not be a cause for concern.
The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 30 minutes and you cannot contract the virus if you have not been in contact with someone who has it or someone who is a carrier.
Since the virus is transmitted through the drops, be sure to wash your hands well and follow the proper label when coughing and sneezing.
The right thing is NOT to cough or sneeze without covering yourself with a tissue or elbow. You should discard your mouth cover immediately and wash your hands. If you sneeze or cough into your hand, you should also wash your hands immediately.
You should also follow proper food hygiene precautions. Before cooking, you should wash your hands, wash vegetables, and utensils well before using them, and make sure that all your food is well cooked.
The use of masks is very effective for people who are already affected by the disease. Unfortunately, for those who are not infected, the masks do not work to prevent the spread of the infection. However, you might use a respirator.
Anyway, the official advice is to avoid nervous purchases of surgical supplies such as masks and to make them available to those who need them: people infected with the virus and people who care for them.
As you could see, the main recommendation is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 2 minutes. The hands should be rubbed between the fingers and each finger separately, also the tips of the fingers against the palms to wash the inside of the nails. This infographic shows very well what is the correct technique to wash your hands.
Wash your hands and monitor your health to detect any symptoms that may appear. If you feel really concerned, try to stay home for up to 2 weeks. If no symptoms develop by then, you are fine. If you start experiencing symptoms like fever and shortness of breath, seek medical attention.
If you experience symptoms of the Coronavirus, call the closest medical center. They should advise you about the best place to go to. Then, you should put on a mask to avoid infecting others and to go to the medical centre. Try not to cough near anyone and keep a minimum distance of 2 meters from other people.
85% of Coronavirus cases have mild symptoms and patients usually recover at home. There are people who are at higher risk such as the elderly or people with pre-existing respiratory problems.
If you are told that your symptoms are mild, but last more than 2 weeks, or if you have difficulty breathing, seek medical attention again.
All the high-season/low-season trades off. Winter in Peru is from June through August and it means drier weather and easier traveling. Also, this is prime vacation time for those from the northern hemisphere. Do not forget 3 major observances: Inti Raymi 2020 (June 24), Peru´s Independence Day (July 28), and Santa Rosa de Lima (August 30). All of them fall during this time and are transformed into exceptionally large crowds of Peruvian travelers. Prices and visitor numbers drop dramatically during the Peruvian summer rainy season - October through April. The same goes for the hike called Palcoyo Mountain Tour which takes you to the incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes. Note that January is the peak of a rainy season and the Machu Picchu closing is in February. For almost ideal weather and manageable crowds, consider a spring or fall trip.
Unless you hike the Inca Trail, you must first catch a train to Aguas Calientes. There is an official Consettur tourist bus that takes you to the famed ruins. If you are a day-tripper, follow the crowd out of the railway station about two blocks to the Consettur Machu Picchu shuttle buses, which take you up through a series of switchbacks to the ruins, a journey of 20 minutes. Before boarding, buy a USD14 round-trip (USD7 for children) ticket at the stand opposite of a number of buses. Bus tickets could be purchased in US dollars or Peruvian soles. If you are staying overnight, check in to your lodging first and then come back to buy a bus ticket. Buses leave Aguas Calientes towards the ruins apart of 5:30 AM and then depart approximately every 10 minutes. The biggest crowds appear in the mid-morning since trains arrive. The historic site closes at around 5:30 PM. If you head back to Cusco, take a shuttle bus back down at least an hour before your train departure. It is also possible to walk to and from the ruins to Aguas Calientes, but this hike takes you a good hour and a half either way (the way up is steep).
It is an easy ride from the railway stations of Cusco/Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Most visitors board the train in Cusco. PeruRail is the oldest standing operator and it offers services from Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes too. Their train services include Vistadome, Expedition, and the luxury Hiram Bingham. Trains leave from the station Cusco - Poroy, a 15-minute taxi ride from Cusco's main square 'Plaza de Armas'. The newer operators of Inca Rail and Andean Railways offer services only between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes; both of them are expected to extend services.
One can visit Machu Picchu on a day trip, but we recommend staying overnight at a hotel near its entrance or in Aguas Calientes. A day trip allows you about four hours at Machu Picchu. If you stay overnight, it enables you either visiting Machu Picchu after most tourists are gone or in the morning before they arrive.
If you arrive without an admission ticket, you must purchase one in Aguas Calientes at the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (address: Avenida Pachacutec s/n, phone number: 084-211196). There is no ticket booth at the ruins' entrance. If you come with a tour, tickets are most likely taken care of for you. Buy your ticket the night before if you want to get in the historic sanctuary right away (shuttle bus service begins at 5:30 AM). From the time you purchase the ticket, you have three days to enter the Inca city. However, once you enter the citadel, the ticket is only valid for that day. So, if you arrive in the afternoon and visit the ruins and then you stay overnight with the intension of returning to the citadel the next morning, you will have to buy two tickets (one for every day).
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are a breath-catching 300-700 meters (980-2,300 feet) lower than Cusco. But to be on the safe side about altitude effects, locally known as soroche, get an ample intake of liquids and eliminate or minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption. Smoking aggravates the problem. Some hotels have an oxygen supply for their guests' use. The medication acetazolamide can help offset the alkalosis caused by low oxygen at high elevations. Tap water is not safe to drink. Stick with the bottled variety, either 'con gas' (carbonated) or 'sin gas' (still). The San Luis brand of water is available almost everywhere.
Some Cusco's tour operators market a two-day, one night visiting Machu Picchu excursion as the Sacred Inca Trail or Royal Inca Trail. It is easier to procure reservations for these trips, but advance booking with a licensed tour operator is still essential. The excursion begins at the so-called Km 104, a stop on the Cusco-Machu Picchu rails. All of the hiking happens on the first day. Then, a hiker spends the night at a hotel in Aguas Calientes. The second day is dedicated to the visit of the ruins.
There are many routes leading to Machu Picchu. But none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you can arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps discovering several ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities while enjoying majestic views all the way.
Hikes to Machu Picchu are the following:
No worries, the Inca citadel will re-open in a few days after the Covid pandemic so you will enjoy your vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. We recommend you to not forget to buy your ticket in advance!