Category Archives: Peru

EXPECTED DATES FOR MACHU PICCHU ACCESS

Last night, FETRANSA, the rail company in charge of the train routes that connect Machu Picchu, issued a statement to clarify some points about the work they are performing to restore the access to Machu Picchu.  With this information, we can now present to you a better perspective of the current situation.

First, the railway to Machu Picchu via the Hidroelectrica train station (backdoor to Machu Picchu) has been completely restored.  However, the road that connects Cusco or the Sacred Valley to the Hidroelectrica station still presents critical damage and it is expected that the Peruvian authorities will not complete this work in the short run.  Metropolitan Touring has already advised its clients and friends about the difficulties and obstacles that this uncomfortable and not recommended route presents.

Second, on the south side of Machu Picchu, other teams of FETRANSA are working on the restoration of the railway along the traditional route that connects Cusco or the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes train station).  They expect to have the railway ready, between the town of Piscacucho (Km.82) and Machu Picchu (Km.110), by early April, thus enabling guests to access Machu Picchu on a bus-train combination: 50 minute bus ride from Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo station) up to Piscacucho (Km.82) followed by a 80 minute train ride from there to Machu Picchu.  As time goes by, both FETRANSA and PERURAIL should announce a specific targeted date of completion.  We will keep you well informed of any developments related to this reconstruction work.

Third, the Cusco-Puno railway track of the Andean Explorer train was also damaged by the unexpected rains and flooding of January and according to FETRANSA, if weather conditions permit, this route will be up and running by February 22nd, 2010.

Also, the Peruvian INC (National Institute of Culture) has officially suspended all entry to the Machu Picchu citadel as well as all admission to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (trekking route), while the proper access and safety conditions are not present in the area.  So it is expected that both attractions will remain closed during March and should re-open in April.

Finally, we would like to reconfirm that all attractions and destinations of Cusco city and the Sacred Valley are totally accessible, safe and operating normally and that the current weather in the area perfectly allows traveling and presents no major impediment.  Nowadays, our guests are enjoying more of the magic of Cusco city, its surrounding ruins, and experiencing some of the hidden attractions of the Sacred Valley and Cusco’s southern valley.

Machu Picchu Update

FERROCARRIL TRANSANDINO – FETRANSA (the partially Orient Express owned company that leases and operates the railway infrastructure between Cuzco Ollantaytambo Machu Picchu) has issued a statement with the following information:

FETRANSA`s engineers have already inspected the 122 kilometers of railway track between Cuzco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.

As the priority is to restore rail service into Machu Picchu, FETRANSA has decided to start works in three stages:

Hidroelerica  – Machu Picchu: The  work will last three weeks service should be restored by approximately February 20th.

Piscacucho  – Machu Picchu: The  work will last seven weeks – service should be restored by approximately March 20th.

Ollantaytambo  – Piscacucho: The  work will last eight weeks – service should be restored by approximately April 01st.

Hidroelerica is located 8 miles away from Machu Picchu in the opposite direction than Ollantaytambo or Cuzco. To get there passengers would need to be driven to Santa Teresa and onwards to Hidroelectrica, from where they will take a very short train ride to Machu Picchu. The whole trip Cuzco Santa Teresa Hidroelectrica Machu Picchu should last approximately 4 hours (which actually is quite similar to the amount of time it takes to get from Cuzco to Machu Picchu Pueblo under regular conditions). There is no direct route from the Urubamba Valley to Santa Teresa passengers will have to go via Cuzco.

Piscacucho is a couple of miles from Ollantaytambo towards Machu Picchu, and is the official starting point of the 4-day Inca Trail. This point is fully accessible by bus. Passengers will board and return to this point until the Ollantaytambo Piscacucho portion is restored

It is important to mention that all working plans are subject to weather conditions, although the fact that we are in rainy season has been taken into account to make the above-mentioned estimates.

Lanslides near Machu Picchu

Severe rainfall has caused landslides along the railway tracks to Machu Picchu, making it impossible for trains to reach or depart Aguas Calientes.

As the bad weather continues, rehabilitation of the railway tracks can`t be currently done, so Peru Rail, the Cuzco local government, the federal government, the US embassy and Peru Rail have provided helicopters (a total of 10) to take passengers from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo, so that they can be then transferred to Cuzco. Climate conditions are still not good enough for the helicopter operations to operate at full capacity, so the evacuation of passengers is not happening at a quick pace.

Our associates in Peru have 3 representatives in Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) who are assisting our passengers. We do not expect the railway system to be operational at least before mid next week – if weather conditions allow. Full evacuation of passengers can take a couple more days, although this is hard to predict as it really depends on the weather. Machu Picchu’s geographical conditions make it very hard for helicopters to land during bad weather.

For those passengers already in Peru we are offering alternative destinations. For those that are arriving to Peru in the very short term (at least between now and February 8th), our recommendation is to cancel the trip to Machu Picchu. For those passengers arriving after February 8th, our suggestion would be to wait a couple of days to allow for the railway operator and authorities to asses the damages and provide an estimated date for the train service to be operational again.

Please be assured that we are 100% on top of this situation. Right now are main concern are the passengers that need to be evacuated from Machu Picchu and those already in Peru that will not be able to visit the ruins.

Peru – Inca Trail Permits

If you are planning on hiking the Inca Trail, it’s best to secure your trail permits at least 3 months in advance. If you are not able to do that, there are quite a few other trekking options in the Cusco area that you should consider. Check out Gate of the Sun for more information.