Is Machu Picchu open during the pandemic?

Machu Picchu in Peru - open COVID-19
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

International tourist destinations like the Great Barrier Reef, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Wall of China saw temporary closures over the last nine months. Many tourist destinations have started to reopen at limited capacity, and for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began Machu Picchu is open to tourists.

The famous Peruvian archaeological site reopened at 30% capacity on Nov. 1, and tickets for visits through November 14 sold out within two days, according to Adios Adventure Travel cofounder Jacquie Whitt.

Machu Picchu is open in a limited capacity, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. The site hosted up to 5,000 daily visitors pre-pandemic, but will now allow only 675 visitors per day. Temperatures will be checked upon arrival and groups are required to stay 20 meters, or 66 feet, apart. Trains and buses will operate at 50% capacity and masks will be required.

Machu Picchu was awarded a “Safe Travels” stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for its safety protocols. The “Safe Travels” stamp is awarded to tourist destinations that meet a global standard of health and safety protocols by the WTTC.

Peru began opening flights to neighboring countries on Oct. 5, and is now allowing international flights 8 hours or shorter to land in Lima. Travelers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their flight.

Peru began allowing American tourists to enter the country again in November. Americans can fly from Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, or Orlando. Upon arrival, Americans will need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test or agree to quarantine for 14 days.

Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel that historians believe was once a royal estate or a religious site. Hundreds of thousands of tourists from across the globe travel to see the location every year, and many were eager for the reopening.

The first tourist to visit the site was a Japanese traveler, Jesse Katayama, who was visiting when Peru went into lockdown in March. Katayama taught boxing to children in the area during lockdown with hopes of seeing Machu Picchu before his scheduled departure. Katayama was set to leave the country before Machu Picchu reopened, and locals pleaded his case to the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. Officials made an exception and let Katayama tour Machu Picchu before the official reopening.

Sources: Travel and Leisure, The Washington Post, History, Adios Adventure Travel

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