Travel | January 25, 2023 3:05 pm

Machu Picchu Is Closed to Visitors Indefinitely

Cusco, where Machu Picchu is located, has been the site of some of the most intense political protests

Aerial view of Machu Picchu
Getty

For the uninitiated, Machu Picchu is a site of 15th century Inca ruins located on a mountain ridge in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru. Once a royal estate for Inca emperors and nobles, Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and later, in 2007, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. With over 1.5 million visitors a year, it’s considered Peru’s most popular attraction and South America’s most famous ruins.

But on Saturday, Machu Picchu was closed to visitors indefinitely. Per a report from Daniel Politi of the Associated Press, the Culture Ministry said it had closed the country’s most famous tourist attraction, in addition to the Inca Trail leading up to the site, “to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general.”

The move comes off the back of reports of an increase in anti-government protests across the country. Upwards of 400 visitors — 300 of whom were foreign — were actually stranded at Machu Picchu last month, unable to leave, after Peru “launched into violent political unrest.” In other words: this isn’t exactly premature.

The protests are a result of the impeachment and imprisonment of Peru’s first leader with a rural Andean, after he attempted to dissolve Congress. Demonstrators are now calling for the resignation of his replacement, former vice president Boluarte, as well as the dissolution of Congress and a new election. A total of 55 people have died to date.

“Cusco, where Machu Picchu is located, has been the site of some of the most intense clashes, leading to significant loss of tourism revenue. The Cusco airport was briefly shut down this week after protesters tired to storm it,” Politi wrote, adding, “Train service to Machu Picchu has been closed since Thursday due to damage to the tracks.”

Some have opted to leave the area by foot, though that reportedly involves a 6-7 hour walk, which obviously isn’t an option for all.

And while it’s hardly the biggest concern, anyone who had already bought tickets for Machu Picchu from Saturday until one month after whenever the protests end will be eligible for a full refund.