Is Machu Picchu open during the pandemic? (Update)

Machu Picchu in Peru - open COVID-19
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: May 12, 2021

International tourist destinations like the Great Barrier Reef, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Wall of China saw temporary closures since the pandemic began. Many tourist destinations have started to reopen at limited capacity, and so has the European Union for Americans, 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.

But in January 2021, the Peruvian government shut down Machu Picchu and other archeological sites from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14 as the coronavirus surged in the country.

“The economic impact on the entire district is strong, the measures are very restrictive,” Machu Picchu mayor Darwin Baca said, via the Economic Times.

In February 2021, Peru’s economy contracted by 4.18% in year over year measurements.

Machu Picchu opened in November 2020 in a limited capacity, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. The site hosted up to 5,000 daily visitors pre-pandemic, allowed only 675 visitors per day during the pandemic.

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.

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.

UPDATE: As of January 2021, there are restrictions on where you can travel in the country and curfews. Be aware that if you travel to Peru and then want to return to the U.S., you’ll need a negative COVID-19 test before you get on the airplane.

In April, the U.S. Department of State advised Americans not to travel to Peru, due to COVID, crime, and terrorism.

If you’d rather experience the site virtually, there’s a way to do that instead.

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

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