The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu found its first tourists on Monday, after remaining deserted for eight months. An isolation reminiscent of the one that was his for four centuries until its rediscovery by the American Hiram Bingham in 1911.
The first visitors to enter the site were a French couple and a Chilean couple, the day after the official reopening celebrated with an Inca ritual ceremony. “We are very happy to be here today,” said Véronique, a French tourist. She was surprised by the coronavirus pandemic in Peru in March as she traveled to Latin America with her husband and two children.
Only 675 tourists per day
As before the pandemic, tourist coaches resumed their ballet every fifteen minutes from Machu Picchu pueblo, the village closest to the mythical citadel. “It was a surprise that we were the first international tourists to enter the site,” said Juan José Garcia, a 34-year-old Chilean who has lived in Lima since March. “It’s a chance to be able to be here without a lot of people,” says his wife, Victoria Moran.
Before the pandemic, around 3,000 tourists visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site daily in 1983. For health security reasons, only 675 tourists can now access the site each day.
Temperature control at the inlet
On Monday, the majority were Peruvians. Faced with this gradual reopening, some hotels in Machu Picchu pueblo reopened on Sunday, but most are still closed. The Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel located in the mountain, 50 meters from the site entrance, has reopened. The establishment, where the price of a room is around $ 1,400, received its first tourists on Tuesday.
Peru has been very hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic: more than 900,000 cases have been recorded, including more than 34,000 deaths, in this country of 32 million inhabitants. At the entrance to the site, visitors and guards are subject to temperature control and tourists are required to keep their distance.