After Closing for Covid-19, Machu Picchu Reopens With New Rules for Travelers
New rules for visitors to Machu Picchu offer optimum conditions for exploring the ancient Inca citadel without the hustle and bustle of crowds as seen in recent years. But what do travelers need to know about navigating the airports, trains, bus stations, hotels and most recently, the ticket shortage? Here's information to unravel some of the rumors and explain what our recent groups arriving in Peru are reporting. Did you hear the news from Peru?
- Arrival protocols changing again on September 20. I mean twice. Not kidding. Vaxxed and unvaxxed can travel to Peru. Proof of vaccination not required to enter Peru.
- Peru Government announces plans to increase daily visitors to 3500
- Machu Picchu entry tickets are available online through September 30, 2021
Can you still get in to Machu Picchu in October 2021?
Yes. More tickets for entry to Machu Picchu through Sept 30 are now availabe. However October is still sold out. We have a legitimate hack and may be able to get you in to Machu Picchu if we have 6-7 days advance notice. Contact Jacquie in VA by phone 757-714-6649, text or What's App. And there's always good old fashioned email through our contact page on this website.)
Peru Government Announces Increase to 3500 Daily Visitors to Machu Picchu. But when?
Just a few days ago (around Sept 10) I reported that Peru government announced a plan to increase daily visitors to 3500. The only thing they didn't announce was when this might happen. I edited out the "heretofores" and the long Ministry office names, and translated the announcement: "it was established to expand the daily capacity to 3,500 visitors. In a video, the mayor of Marchu Picchu, Darwin Baca, pointed out that today a report was signed regarding this agreement in which the technical team of the municipality participated. It did not specify a date nor did it say whether such increase would be immediate or progressive. Has not yet confirmed the details of the announcement of the mayor of Machu Picchu. It should be remembered that a few days ago the Minister of Culture said that he was evaluating increasing the capacity by 400 additional visitors as of September 15. (I checked the official website on Sept 18 and tickets ARE AVAILABLE through September 30 ) Currently the capacity is 2,244 people per day."
Make of it what you will. I'm not a math whiz, which is why I have my capable assistant Heather, but it looks like there is going to be a net increas of 1256 visitors per day. I check the official government website every day just in case they try to sneak one over on me, and so far ticket availability for entry to Machu Picchu in September and October is still nil. If they do add more tickets and you stop calling, I will miss all of you.
Why are Machu Picchu entry tickets sold out in August, September and October 2021?
Entry tickets to Machu Picchu sold out for the last two weeks in August, most of September and even October. Here's why. Peruvians showed up in Cusco in early August, (as they do every year for their Independence Day combined with 2 week school vacation), with the plan to buy entry tickets and visit Machu Picchu, the emblem of their national heritage. But due to reduced capacity and a normal seasonal increase in visitors, all tickets sold out unexpectedly. Exercising their freedom of speech, the Peruvians showed up in numbers to protest at the ticket offices, train stations, and buses. The government offered the following (short-sighted) solution. People could buy tickets for any date they chose in September or even October and use those tickets to enter Machu Picchu in August. This of course created another problem in that tickets in September and October sold out many dates and people planning to buy tickets to Machu Picchu for entry in September and October could not find availability. On Monday August 23, the Peru government releaseed more entry tickets to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately they only released additional tickets for entry to Machu Picchu through Sunday September 5.
On Sept 4, we discovered that more tickets to Machu Picchu were quietly released for.entry through September 19! On September 18, Peru government released more tickets for entry to Machu Picchu through September 30. I see a pattern emerging here. The Peruvian government has released 3 batches of new tickets 2 weeks apart. Good Lord I hope they don't plan to do this every two weeks for the rest of the year. If only I could get hold of the director of the Ministry of Tourism I could explain why this is such a bad strategy. There is also an annoucement on the Machu Picchu home page stating that tickets can only be purchased online. You cannot go in person to the office and buy tickets in Cusco or Aguas Calientes.
By the way, I don't recommend buying tickets to Machu Picchu on other dates and trying to use them on any date you want. The fact that the Ministry of Tourism allowed people in August to enter Machu Picchu with tickets dated from September and October is not an indication of an across-the-board policy change. Unless you get written permission from the Ministry office in charge of tickets, trying to enter Machu Picchu with tickets with another date could lead to a terrible outcome.
- 4 and 5 day Inca Trail reopening on July 15 (with capacity at 50%) Here's a link to info about booking the Inca Trail Hike last minute
- Cusco curfew changed to 12am - 4am
- as of August 23, 2021 there are no longer capacity restrictions at all outdoor archaeological sites in Peru
- Machu Picchu trains and shuttle buses are at 100% capacity but there are fewer departure times
- Lima airport "Left Luggage" storage is closed indefinitely. If you're visiting the city of Lima (about 45 minutes from the airport) you could ask the airline to store your bags. However US-based airlines don't open until the evening, about 3 hours prior to the first scheduled departure. (Delta, United, Jet Blue)
- Arequipa region is the only region in Peru still at high alert with the most covid restrictions
- Face shields are no longer required on domestic flights. This could change. Bring a shield. And you still need them for trains and buses. Face masks are still required everywhere.
- Peru State of Emergency extended to October 31, 2021.
Date of Reopening at Machu Picchu
March 11, 2021. Peru announced the suspension of quarantine for tourists arriving in Peru and opened the gates for foreigners to visit Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley region. Contact us now to book your trip.
Covid arrival protocols in Lima, Peru
As of Sept 20, there is yet another change in arrival protocols. In less than 48 hours, we've gone from "only vaccinated travelers can enter Peru" to "come on down one an all.' I suspected the first MiNSA announcement over the weekend of Sept 17 was not translated properly and led to the cancellation of reservations galore! Which prompted a correction on the morning of Sept 20. This is the most recent and highly accurate update of the current Peru arrival protocols as of Sept 20, at 13:47 hours. "Minsa: Presentation of a vaccination card against COVID-19 is not a mandatory requirement to enter Peru (Official Communiqué N ° 689)" Let's hope the airlines and tour operators are quick to catch up. "Peruvians, resident foreigners and non-resident foreigners must have a negative molecular test (PCR) within the last 72 hours if they are not protected with two doses of vaccine."
I saw the discrepancy in the first MINSA announcement right away. It was a translation issue combined with an interpretation of terminology problem. But no one asked me. "I pinky promise" we're back to the previous new arrival protocols announced way back on September 6, in the year of our Lord 2021, stating that travelers vaccinated with 2 doses or showing proof of neg covid test could enter Peru without quarantine. (other eligible documents are accepted as well). Unvaccinated travelers can go back to their plan to get a negative covid test as specified by their international airline. And now we all need to take a breather. And relax.
Having covid vaccination is not required, but travelers should carry their covid vaccination cards. I still see Delta Airlines stating that everyone needs to get PCR covid tests within 72 hours of boarding your flight of origin to Lima. Peru says if you have 2 doses you don't need the test. I guess the safest thing to do if you're vaxed is just get the test!
Recent changes to the parameters for arrival in Peru. Here's a link to the official Peru Travel website PDF document. Please verify the extact details with your international airline and revisit the official Peru travel website within 72 hours of your arrival in Peru in case there are changes. Trying to keep up with these details is like tracking the stock market. I would print that PDF document, frame it, and make sure you have your boarding pass with your flight details, (and $500 cash! Haha. Just kidding) Here's an easy one for you. No tests are needed for domestic flights.
No matter what you read now, all travel protocols are subject to change, especially if you're planning a trip to Peru later in 2021 or dare I say, 2022! Rules are subject to change and travelers should review the protocols when they book their flights, then review again when it's time to get the covid test right before they travel. We're all hoping that the US will eliminate the requirement that all US-bound passengers arriving on international flights must show neg covid test.
(Disclaimer: I am offering this information anecdotally to provide insight based on reports from real travelers. I am not responsible for the actions of the Peruvian authorities or airline staff with regards to any arrival policy to any country)
Can We Get A Covid Test in Cusco Before We Return to the US?
Yes! US bound travelers can get covid tests in several clinics in Cusco. You can make your own arrangements or we can arrange a driver and an Adios guide to accompany you. Our local guides will assist people who book their trips with Adios Adventure Travel. We wrote an entire blog post with details. Follow this link to get full details.
Can We Buy Entry Tickets to Machu Picchu in 2022?
No. People are instructed to go to the official Peru government website to reserve their tickets for entry in 2021. It's too early for anyone to get entry tickets to Machu Picchu next year. This is normal. They don't release tickets until late December. This is also normal. To get tickets in 2021, foreigners must use their valid passport, while Peruvian nationals and CAN citizens can use their DNI cards. (Remember that if your passport expires within 6 months of your travel dates you need to renew your passport.) For your convenience here is a direct link to the Peru government ticket website. They have issued new rules and protocols for all visitors going to Machu Picchu in 2021. I've translated and listed the new rules for Machu Picchu visitors below but there are even more changes and Vidal and I will do a video on our Youtube channel to explain.
Note about passports expiring: when you book your ticket to Machu Picchu, you must use your passport unless you're a citizen of CAN (latin American countries) in which case you can use your national ID. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months from your arrival date in Peru. There has been a delay in getting passports renewed in the US. Some people report that it's taken 4 months. Keep this in mind when you're buying tickets and planning trips. The passport document you use to buy your tickets is the same document you must show to enter Machu Picchu. Here's what you do if you're buying tickets in advance with a passport that's about to expire. Buy your ticket online with a passport that will expire and after you get your new passport, you travel with both the old and the new passports. You will use your new passport to enter Peru, and you will use your old passport to enter Machu Picchu. This is what we do for Inca Trail permits as well.
Can we Buy Tickets to Hike Huayna Picchu in 2021?
No. You will notice on the new Machu Picchu website that there are new "experiences" this year. These experiences include the popular hikes to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain, but also include new hikes to Sungate and Inca Bridge, which it appears they plan to monetize with the general entry tickets. At this time, only general entry tickets can be purchased. The cost of tickets is the same as previous years. 152/s. per adult for foreigners. At this time, the only people who can get to the Sungate are visitors who hike the 1-day Inca Trail. You cannot go up to the Sungate from inside the citadel. It has been rumored that the Peru government will not release tickets for any of these extra experiences until "covid is over." There are 2 options for exploring Machu Picchu at this time. Buy general entry tickets. Or hike the 1-day Inca Trail. (I included more info about Inca Trail permits below)
Can we combine our trip to Machu Picchu with excursions to the Amazon Jungle or Lake Titicaca?
Yes. The good news is that as of July 26, the Madre de Dios region is among the lowest covid restrictions in Peru. As long as Latam Airlines continues to provide service to Puerto Maldonado (PEM), the jungle lodges welcome travelers. One thing I recommend when setting up your itinerary is to book this segment at the front of your trip and save the Machu Picchu portion for the end. This puts you in Cusco where it's easy to get a covid test if you're US-bound. Another important thing to be aware of is that the flights to and from PEM need to be synchronized with your lodge transfers. Always confirm the flight schedule with your lodge before you pay. On July 15, daytime bus service resumed to Puno and Lake Titicaca. However, buses are operating intermittently based on demand. If you have a fixed schedule, we're offering private 1-day transfers from Cusco to Puno. To read more about Amazon Jungle and Lake Titicaca Follow this link.
What Hikes are Open in Peru?
If you're wondering about the Inca Trail hike, Rainbow Mountains, Humantay Lake, Salkantay Trek and other day hikes and multi-day treks, we set up a page devoted to the list of all hikes that are open and all that are closed. The 4 and 5 day Inca Trail hike is reopening on July 15, 2021. CLICK HERE
When are Musuems and Secondary Archaeological Sites Reopening in Peru?
As of August 23, 2021, there are no longer any capacity restrictions at all outdoor archaeological sites. Secondary archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley have been open about 9AM - 3PM daily. You can still buy the tourist boleto ticket book upon entry. There is a short boleto, valid for 2 (consecutive) days, and a big boleto book valid for 10 days. Day trips to the Sacred Valley should start early if you want to see as much as possible in one day. Qoricancha Temple and Inca art museums in Cusco, are reopen, but even in the best of times, these places are subject to occasional unplanned closure. The Peru government makes assessments every 15 days. Outdoor sites like Sacsayhuaman, Qenco, Tambomachay, Pukapukara and Pisaq are reopen. Local tourist bus service has started again for most regions of the country, but progress has been slow. Give it some time as supply and demand are likely to affect the scheduling for a while.
Can we get Inca Trail permits? Yes!
1-Day Inca Trail. Now that Machu Picchu entry tickets are officially available, we can also get permits for the 1-day Inca Trail for anyone who wants to hike to Machu Picchu in 2021. We're taking reservations now for 1-Day Inca Trail hikes in 2021. I hiked the Inca Trail on December 30 with Vidal and we noticed there have been many improvements on the trail. Paths have been groomed and bridges have been repaired.
4 and 5 Day Inca Trail is reopening on July 15, 2021. Permits for the 4 and 5-day Inca Trail hikes were released on June 25, 2021. It's first come, first serve. Capacity is reduced to 50%. We're taking reservations now for hikes from July 15 through December 31, 2021.
The same refund and cancellation policies apply to Inca Trail permits as before covid. Permits cannot be refunded, transferred or changed for any reason.
The biggest change to the Inca Trail is the hike into Machu Picchu is that hikers are diverted from the citadel just before you get to the guard shack and the overlook of the ancient city. Your permit includes one entry either right after you hike in, or re-entry the next day. That is when you will have access to the interior of the ancient city center. Here's a link to see the details fo the hike.
Should we plan to travel to Machu Picchu for Christmas and New Years?
Traveling to Peru is a memorable experience for people who like to roam during the Christmas and New Year holidays. There was a mini-surge of foreigners to the Cusco region over the Chrsitmas and New Year holidays in 2020. Most foreigners came from countries in South America. But many North Americans popped up as well. Keep in mind that planning any trip that far in advance requires some flexibility at this stage. We are making "soft" reservations but not buying anything that is non-refundable until we get closer to the travel dates.
Social Distancing Rules at Machu Picchu
- Machu picchu entry tickets at 50% capacity
- up to 7 people per group (with or without a private guide)
- spacing is 20 meters between groups
- trains at 100% capacity
- buses at 100% capacity
- guided tours are usually up to 2 hours but our guides report that tours can be longer and more in depth if people are interested
- face masks are worn in all public places. Masks and face shields are worn on planes, trains and public buses. NOTE: face shields must be transparent. Do not use tinted face shields!
How to Buy Entry Tickets to Machu Picchu After Covid-19
- Machu Picchu website is up and running. General entry tickets available to reserve for entry through the end of December 31, 2021
- Pre-order with a tour operator who will reserve the tickets for you (valid passport needed)
- Pre-Book a package trip with hotels, tours and all ground transportation including train and entry tickets
What do you need to know about trip cancellation?
We can't speak for other tour operators but Adios Adventure Travel is offering flexible cancellation and refunds for new groups booking trips to Peru in 2021. Follow this link to see full details. Our policy is to be completely transparent about the strategies we can implement to protect your investment in case of last minute cancellation due to unplanned changes. There are limitations you need to be aware of. Contact our US office to get full details. It is strongly recommended that travelers purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers all ground expenses. Follow this link to see tips and strategies to help you plan your trip to South America in 2021.
How to Get to Peru
While Peru international borders are reopening for passengers arriving from north America after March 15, 2021, some flights from Europe including Spain, France and Netherlands are resuming. However flights from UK, South Africa & Brazil will continue to be suspended until April 30, 2021. Airlines have been pretty good about providing details about arrival protocols. After March 15, 2021, the Peru border will reopen for tourists without any quarantine requirement if you have a negative covid test within 72 hours of your arrival. Expect to wear a mask in all public places, plus an additional face shield on planes, trains and buses and of course social distancing
Avianca and Latam Airlines both filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in May 2020. What does that mean for travelers trying to get to Cusco? Most international flights must go through Lima, Peru. But it's not as bad as it looks. Each airline has a different story and here's a link to more details.
Stay in Touch With Adios Adventure Travel to Get Up-to-date Info About Machu Picchu
Check back from time to time as I update information regularly. Sometimes daily if needed. I'm in touch with Vidal and Hubert in Cusco on a regular basis. I'm planning to travel to Machu Picchu as soon as possible. Vidal and I set up zoom and were able to make a few joint videos recently to provide updates and share news about what the first visitors to Cusco should expect. Here is a link to Adios Adventure Travel Youtube Channel.