Editor's Note: ATTA Member Adventures within Reach today delivered an effective communication to its customer mailing list, at once updating would-be travelers with a fact-based situation update along with realistic perspectives on future travel to the area...and promises of future updates. It's an effective means of keeping travelers' interest on destinations dealing with natural disasters. Many other ATTA Members are doing similar updates, some offering specific philanthropic initiatives to support the devastated communities there. More examples to come..."
From an Adventures Within Reach email dated Feb. 9, 2010:
"Due to the heavy rains and flooding in the Sacred Valley, the railway from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu has some areas of track that are washed out. We are keeping in touch with Perurail to get the latest updates on progress to repair the route.
At the moment, you can be assured that everyone is working diligently to get the train "back on track" as soon as possible, since visitors to Machu Picchu are critical to the economy. It is anticipated that the railway will be repaired and the train will be operational again at the end of March 2010.
In the meantime, there will be an alternate back route to Aguas Calientes by car/van/bus through Santa Theresa to the Hydroelectric Station and then, from there, a 30-minute train ride to Aguas Calientes. (You then take the shuttle up to Machu Picchu). This section of the railway was not damaged, so they anticipate the alternate route will be ready by mid-February 2010. The down side of this option is the 5-hour drive on the back roads to the Hydroelectric Station. It will be scenic and interesting to be sure, but, nevertheless, a long trip! Fortunately, you can book an overnight in Aguas Calientes.
That said, one never knows what may transspire with the flooding and weather patterns. January and February are the rainy months. Machu Picchu itself is open, and there was no damage to this historic site. The issue is getting from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.
Once you get to Peru, our staff will keep you up-to-date about any changes in your itinerary and will provide alternate routes or options for you if another natural disaster occurs. If you have questions, be sure to ask us.
Many have asked about a helicopter ride to Machu Picchu. This is being set up between Perurail and the helicopter companies and will allow approximately 100 visitors to Machu Picchu each day. We do not have the prices at this moment, but understand that it may be expensive! Let us know if you are interested in this option.
The Inca Trail is closed every year in February, for cleaning and repair, so this is being done right now. For the 5-day classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek, you drive in a private car to the trailhead. Your return will be by train or the alternate route. We have some confidence that the Inca Tail will be open by the middle of March. The permits for April are already selling rapidly, so do not wait if you are planning to hike the Inca Trail!
AWR will keep you posted on any new developments, including the date that they anticipate opening the main train route to Machu Picchu."