Thursday, April 1, 2010

Machu Picchu reopened to visitors

Machu Picchu, the 15th Century Inca ruin and most visited site in Latin America, is set to open to the public again today after being closed since January when heavy rains and flooding damaged the rail line. The Citadel itself was not damaged.

Partial rail service has been restored and, for the time being, tourists will travel by bus from Cuzco to Piscacucho where they will board the train for the rest of the journey to Aguas Calientes. On Friday, Juan Carlos Zevallos, the president of Peruvian transport regulator Ositran, announced after inspecting the train line that it is “in perfect condition to begin operations between Piscacucho and Aguas Calientes.”

Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC) said on Monday it will limit the number of entrance tickets to Machu Picchu to ensure the Inca citadel isn’t inundated by visitors. The INC also said that the Inca trail will only be open to hikers who have confirmed seat on the train from Machu Picchu to Piscacucho. Entrance tickets onto the Inca Trail are already sold out for April and May.

The re-opening of Machu Picchu will begin with a “Payment to the Earth” ceremony at the Explanade of the Koricancha Temple, located in Cuzco. Two large screens will be set up to show images of Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Following that a group dressed as Incas and accompanied by musicians and dancers will offer a tribute to Pachamama Raymi or Mother Earth. The ceremony will conclude with fireworks and music.

Hugo Gonzáles, regional president of Cuzco, said Tuesday he is interested in working with the National Institute of Culture to emphasize other attractions besides Machu Picchu. “This disaster should give us an opportunity to redesign the tourism activity, we can’t focus everything on Machu Picchu,” Gonzáles said. “Cuzco is there with all of its wonder, Moray, Tipón, Pikillacta, Sacsayhuamán, Pucapucara, Quenqo, Tambomachay.”

Tourism is one of Peru’s largest sources of revenue, and Machu Picchu is the main attraction. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism reports that the Inca Citadel attracted more than 850,000 tourists in 2008.

NOTICE of NEW Carry-on Baggage Allowance for TRAIN to Machu Picchu:
Each passenger may take 1 bag or backpack, maximum weight of 11lb, and 62 inches (length + height + width combined). Extra luggage can be kept at your Cuzco hotel.



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