21 September 2020
Peru has been stopped by the Coronavirus. The Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra declared the closure of the country’s borders and quarantine with effect from 16 March until 30 September 2020.
At the moment, Dircetur (the Regional Administration of Foreign Trade and Tourism), PromPeru (a state promotion agency of Peru) and the Ministry of Tourism present to the Peruvian government the new regulation and project of tourism of the country. They would like to open the borders on the 1st October 2020 to all travelers. During this re-opening, PromPeru will offer some travel deals and do promotion of hotels, restaurants and trips.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are most important tourist attractions of Peru. They fall under the control of the Ministry of Culture (Ministerio de Cultura). Most travellers ask: Is Machu Picchu closed? Yes, it is closed along with the Inca Trail at present. If the health situation allows, the Ministry of Culture will open them to foreign visitors on the 1st of October 2020. We just have to hope.
For all of us, it is very important that is Machu Picchu open again since it is a symbol of the country. Although the Inca Trail is sold out until October 2020, trekkers will have a choice to decide among many alternative hikes such as the Salkantay Trek, the Inca Quarry, the Inca Jungle, the Lares Trek and others.
There was a problem on the trail of Salkantay in February of this year (see below). But local people have fixed it. It should be reopen soon.
Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu tickets are the Peruvian top sellers. Travelers book these tickets well in advance because there is a limited number of spaces. At present, during the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu closing due to the quarantine, it is impossible to visit them.
If you have purchased tickets by yourself:
We recommend to email the Ministery of Culture (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can either cancel or postpone your trip there. In case, you prefer to cancel your tickets, the Ministery of Culture will refund you without a commision for a bank transfer and operations.
If you have purchased tickets via a tour operator:
Your local tour operator will prepare a letter including a list of travelers going with you. There will be mentioned who prefers to change/cancel. If you cancel your service, the local operator will refund you without a commision for a bank transfer and operations. Usually, all local tour operators have the Corononvirus (COVID-19) Policy Cancellation.
The Inca Trail is not refunded. If you like to cancel, your local tour operator needs to find first a new traveler instead of you and later change a name and date of the Inca Trail. We recommend that you postpone your trip to a later date this year or the next year. You might choose the best optional date for your hike.
The Inca Trail is sold out until September. The only spaces available for this year are in October, November and December.
If you booked the Inca Trail starting in March, April or May, reconsider when you would like to start the hike. The Ministery of Culture has issued a new regulation related to the Inca Trail. You can modify a name or date until the 31st December 2021.
Due to the Salkantay closing, we have to wait until the quarantine is over. Afterwards, you can rebook your Salkantay Trek. We recommend you to decide about a suitable date around 3 weeks in advance. If you prefer a refund, local tour operators usually will refund without any commision for bank transfers and operations.
There are four travel advisory levels:
At the moment, there is Level 4: Do Not Travel (Global Health Advisory) in Peru. Avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. Some areas do better, some have increased risk.
Peru has reached 15,628 cases. For that reason, the president Martin Vizcarra has banned gatherings of more than 300 persons. He has extended the suspension of schools to universities and colleges too. All flights have been suspended as well.
On 23 February 2020 (please note: this was incorrectly reported as 24 February 2020), the Salkantay River was swept away by a huge, catastrophic flow of debris near the town of Santa Teresa. This disaster has killed at least four people and further 22 have been missing. Given the magnitude of the flow, these numbers are uncertain.
A debris flow of this scale usually requires an extraordinary cause. The local newspaper Diario Correo came with an explanation saying it was caused by a glacial avalanche of the Salkantay Mountain. This hypothesis was proposed by Oscar Vilca Gómez, a specialist in hydrology and glaciology. He visited the site of the disaster as a part of a research team of the National Institute for Glacier Research of the Ministry of Environment. He proposed that an ice/rock avalanche detached from the mountain, crossed the Salkantay Lake and generated the huge debris flow.
Upon first inspection, it appeared to be a wedge failure in the rock mass that fragmented to generate the ice/rock avalanche.
Travelers booked the Salkantay Trek in advance. However, the disaster has changed it all. The route is closed between Soraypampa - Salkantaypampa - Chaullay - Colcapampa - La Playa - Llactapata and Santa Teresa. In spite of the Salkantay closing, there are some irresponsible tour operators still offering the trail. We would recommend you to avoiding it till it is fully repaired. Especially, between Colcapampa and Santa Teresa as one needs to get over the river and cross mountains.
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu tour operators also offer this alternative hike to the Salkantay Mountain. It begins at Soraypampa (the Salkantay Mountain) and finishes at the Km 82 of the Inca Trail. Then, a train to Aguas Calientes is taken where it is spent the night. The next day, one can take a shuttle bus to Machu Picchu and experience a guided tour of the Lost City of the Incas. In the afternoon, one returns to Cusco. Another alternative is a 5 Day Salkantay Trek Expedition in case you would not like to miss the beauty of the Sacred Valley and flora and fauna typical for the trek.
Just to name a couple of other alternative hikes, these are a 4 Day Lares Trek, a 4 Day Inca Quarry or a Huchuyqosqo Trail 4 Days.
Machu Picchu closing for foreigners will be over in a couple of weeks! Let's enjoy this mystic site again!