With protests in Peru winding down and the restoration of supply chains well under way, what do travelers need to know about planning trips to Machu Picchu? The first thing to be aware of is that no one can ever guarantee there won't be interruptions during trips to Peru, whether you plan it next week or next year. Here are some practical steps for planning your trip to Peru.

  • Book flights that can be cancelled or rescheduled without penalty. 
  • Look for package trips that include hotels, transport, tour guides and tickets that can be cancelled without any risk. This saves you time in having to contact each provider if you book everything yourself.
  • Buy comprehensive travel insurance. The insurance you buy at the end of the flight booking process may only cover the flight you're reserving. I recommend that you buy a comprehensive travel protection policy that covers all your ground and air expenses. Most policies cover a percentage. (I've seen 50-75%)  If you plan to use the travel protection benefit on your credit card, find out what the exclusions are. We all learned the hard way that many credit cards have a clause that excludes getting reimbursed in case of any "force majeure." 

What are the trends now after the protests in Peru? Is there any encouraging news?

  • 3 Strikes failed. The national workers union attempted to call a national strike for all public and private workers from Feb 9-12. Cusco residents went back to work and ignored it as did other cities. Small groups were seen marching and some scattered markets and transport were closed. But the majority of citizens want to work. 
  • Peru needs money. They're desperate to revive the economy and the tourism industry. Tourism industry leaders are working out the terms to restore the main travel corridor from Cusco to Machu Picchu. And other regions including the Madre de Dios jungle are now getting supplies. 
  • Another general strike is being announced from FEB 16-19. Let's see what the citizens of Cusco do.
  • Machu Picchu reopens on February 15. Trains and other tourist services in the main Cusco to Machu Picchu "Corridor" resume.
  • Feb 15. A representative of one of the factions of the Departmental Federation of Workers of Cusco (FDTC), indicated that they are evaluating new forms of protest against the government of Dina Boluarte. He pointed out that the citizens are tired due to the economic damage caused by the blockade of roads and the confrontations.
  • Feb 16. Cusco says no to the strike in favor of work and economic reactivation
  • March 1. Another call to strike was ignored in Lima. 

How can travelers reduce their risk of financial loss when planning trips to Machu Picchu?

Here's advice based on techniques we used to build traveler confidence after the pandemic. We can make hotel reservations and usually we can cancel without penalty up to 30 days before arrival for the 3* hotels or 45 days for the luxury hotels. There is no obligation to make any payment for your trip to Peru until it's time to pay for hotels, tickets and trains. 
  1. Reserve your trip without any payment if you're traveling 60 days or more from the date you make your reservation. We will ask to review your passports to ensure that they are valid and meet the criteria for buying tickets. If anyone is planning to renew their passport, we need to know at the time your reservation is made.
  2. Cancel your trip anytime for any reason up to the time of deposit payment, which can be deferred until 45 days before arrival.
  3. Pay only a 30% non-refundable deposit when it's time to confirm. Usually 45 days before arrival. However, in case tickets to Machu Picchu or some other attraction are at risk of selling out, we will ask you to pay your deposit sooner. Or you can cancel without risk at that time.
  4. Pay remaining non-refundable full balance on arrival in Cusco. (cash or credit card)
  5. Even after payment, if anything occurs to interrupt your trip we can usually reschedule hotels, tour guides and transport for future dates. However, sometimes you may need to buy new tickets unless the concessionaire is allowing us to make changes to your dates. The cost could range from $50 - $200 USD per person depending on the activities you have planned.
  6. Buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover all your ground and air expenses. Typically the travel insurance that the airlines offer when you book your flights is not comprehensive and may only cover delays and interruptions for the actual flights being booked. Here's a link to get a free quote from SQUAREMOUTH. But you can choose any provider you like.

What factors should be considered when deciding where and when to travel to Machu Picchu?

The "Cusco to Machu Picchu Corridor" is the primary travel hub for most people because it includes Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail hikes. Hotels, trains, drivers, restaurants, hikes, treks and transportation in this region including the Sacred Valley, will likely be the most stable. Travel itineraries that include secondary hubs like the desert south of Lima, Arequipa, Amazon jungle and Lake Titicaca, should be flexible and fluid at this time. Juliaca was ground zero for much of the violent protests that occured in January. Julicaca is the only airport serving Lake Titicaca and airline service has not been restored. The region near Juliaca and Puno is still fragile and we are expecting it to take longer to resume tourist activities than other areas of Peru. The desert region near Ica is the location of the Pan American highway and there were major road blocks which have since been cleared. 

Is there an advantage to planning your trip to Machu Picchu last minute?

Yes there can be if you have the flexibility. No doubt some savvy travelers might find some deals on flights. It will take some time for hotels to reopen and February is typically the peak of the low travel season. The month of March is normally when tourist services start reopening for the upcoming new travel season and Easter holidays can be busy in Cusco. Keep in mind that with the recent interruptions in the supply chain there could be some delays in resuming full service by March 1. Our manager, Vidal Jaquehua, in Cusco, has the ability to work around interruptions in logistics and has pulled off some amazing feats of  over the last year. 

How can you plan your trip to Machu Picchu long-term?

For groups or families planning ahead, we can reserve hotels, transportation, tour guides and drivers without risk. We can defer the deposit payment until 30-45 days before your arrival. On your end, you're responsible for flights and may need to review the cancellation and refund policy before you commit. There's no reason not to set up your future trip to Machu Picchu now if you're looking at more than 60 days. The only situation we have to pay attention to, is if availability for entry tickets to Machu Picchu drops, we may ask you to pay a 30% non-refundable deposit. Or you can cancel. Booking trips to Peru will help local communities get back on track financially and restore political stability to the tourism industry. For this, we're very grateful.

Who can you contact to get the most accurate and up to date information about travel to Machu Picchu?

My answer will be biased. Just saying. But I'm pretty much reporting the latest news and events almost daily. With Vidals insider "boots on the ground" intel, we have kept our blog up to date. The most visited blog page in the history of our company (since 2209) is this one. We were getting so many visitors after the pandemic, we decided to make it "evergreen." (mas o menos) Also check US Embassy News and Alerts. (note that they have not posted the news about Machu Picchu reopening). Here's a link to official Peru Travel Website

How can travelers determine if it's safe to travel to Machu Picchu?

The concept of personal safety is a subjective viewpoint and it's difficult to provide an exact answer. Most protestors are not looking to block tourists. They are interested in getting the attention of the government. Our local tour guides know to avoid roads that have been blocked. They have their ways to get around some of those road blocks. As I explained earlier, no one can guarantee that you can always get through. But our tour guides are willing to try as long as it is safe for everyone. Are you traveling alone or with a large group? Are you staying in luxury hotels or budget-friendly hostels? Are you using a trusted operator in Peru to organize your logistics or are you doing it yourself? Are you able to buy a comprehsneive travel protection policy?  Are you a seasoned international traveler? Any of these factors can affect your plans. Think in terms of what you would do in these scenarios:

  • Your flight to Cusco is delayed and you scheduled your train on the same day. Your train ticket needs to be changed before the scheduled departure or it will be cancelled and there is no refund.
  • You reserved your Machu Picchu tickets online for the wrong date
  • You thought you reserved and paid for your Machu Picchu tickets but didn't realize the process is 2-steps. Your tickets were cancelled.

Got Questions? Just ask. While we want everything to be over and back to normal. The truth is that life is not predictable.
Contact our US office by email, [email protected], phone, text or What'sApp 757-714-6649