As all of you must already know, the southern Andean region of Peru has been affected by unusual heavy rains which started on January the 23rd and ended on January the 28th, returning to its normal amounts. These rains caused an extraordinary increment of water carried by the Vilcanota River, almost 1,100 m3/second, when maximum registered was 850 m3/second, an unlikely record.
The cities affected where Andahuaylas, Ayacucho, Puno and overall Cusco, where most of the tourist areas, where closed for a few days.
At this time, weather has return to its normal, all areas including all attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley have normal access, but access to Machu Picchu is limited only by helicopter (Note: Commercial helicopter flights to Machu Picchu will not be allowed until noticed by the government), as huge landslides have damaged 6.15km of the railroad to Machu Picchu. In order to re-establish communication with Machu Picchu town by using the railroad, Ferrocarril Transandino S.A. FTSA has determined to restore the tracks in three stages:
- Hydroelectric – Machu Picchu town: The work will take about 2 weeks to allow visitors and residents to use bimodal transportation to get back to Cusco, that means, train ride from Machu Picchu town to The Hydroelectric station in Santa Teresa (45 minutes) and from there by car back to Cusco (6 to 7). In order to achieve this, it will be necessary to restore the road between Santa Teresa and the Hydroelectric.
- Piscaycucho (km82) - Machu Picchu town: The work will take about six weeks. These restorations will allow visitors to get to Machu Picchu using a bimodal transportation too. This means Train from Machu Picchu town to Piscaycucho (1:30 hrs) and from there, car ride back to Cusco (1:30 hrs). This is the main portion of the railroad to Machu Picchu, which we commonly use for our clients. This also means that for all the programs that were planned to start by train in Cusco and returning back to Cusco by train we will have to add the extra car portion to and from Piscaycucho (km 82).
- Ollantaytambo - Piscaycucho: They expect to finish this work in about 7 weeks in order to res-establish the regular train services. This portion is commonly replaced by the one explained in the second stage.
We recommend you that programs that offer Machu Picchu before March the 20th, have to be modified and offer the above mentioned alternatives or re-direct your clients to other attractions.
Fortunately, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu was not affected and it will be re-opened in March as happens every year; there are just inconveniences to return from Machu Picchu Town back to Cusco as mentioned lines above. Though if your clients prefer not to take the Inca trail we can offer them the following alternative treks:
Cultural & Panoramic Inca Trail to Ollantaytambo. 4D/3N
Trek to Choquekiraw. Canyonland & Incas. 5D/4N
At Apumayo we have designed several alternative tourist routes that can supplement a visit to Machu Picchu or the experience of the Inca Trail, as all tourist attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley are accessible except for Machu Picchu. If you have clients coming to Peru in the following 2 months please ask your contact at Apumayo for these alternative routes.
Volunteering and Donating Opportunities:
Our eyes must not only face the damage caused to the tourist industry which will get back to normal at the end of March, as thousands farming land hectares have been flooded and thousands rural houses have been affected and families have lost everything, help is welcome. As we have your customers coming to our country, we would like you to encourage them to provide donations or participate in volunteer initiatives, such as the ones we have been promoting in Cachiccata since some time ago. These initiatives can be:
- Houses and Schools restorations
- Healthy Meals for kids
- Community Cleaning
- Irrigation channels restoration and water filters
This message is not to alarm you, it is only to inform you on what has happened and how we are dealing with this matter, as this has not been a mega disaster, it is something that happens about every 10 years as of the Global Weather Change and usually it is prevented, but this time it took authorities by surprise. Things will get back to normal at the end of March. We will keep you informed on how and when will the railroad to Machu Picchu be finally restored and trips to this fantastic attraction will get back to normal.