Machu Picchu landslides
Pura Aventura news 27 Jan 2010
27 Jan 2010
We have been saddened by the news that at least two people have lost their lives in landslides in the Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu.
Our thoughts go out to their families. For those of you who have written to us, our porters and crew, guides and leaders are all safe and well.
In terms of tourists and travel plans to the region, please see the information below, firstly the tourism ministry statement and then the rather more realistic view from one of our partners on the ground.
I’ve added the Pura Aventura angle at the bottom as I feel there’s some unsaid stuff in the other two statements.
The Peruvian Government tourism department issued the following statement yesterday:
Evacuation of tourists successfully continues
The citadel of Machu Picchu has not been damaged by the intense rains which have been experienced in the region.
The Minister for Exterior Commerce and Tourism, Martín Pérez Monteverde travelled to Cusco this morning, together with the president of the Cabinet of Ministers, Javier Velásquez Quesquén, Interior Ministers, and Ministers of Women and Agriculture. The delegation will personally supervise the evacuation process of tourists from the town of Aguas Calientes and areas around the tourist attraction, Machu Picchu. Heavy rain had halted rescue operations by rail.
An air evacuation is taking place between Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, with a total of 6 helicopters in use, transporting up to 30 people per aircraft.
Weather conditions are now more favourable and it is hoped that rescue aircraft transfers will continue every 30 minutes from Machu Picchu.
It is estimated that the evacuation process will be completed by Wednesday 27th January at the latest, by which time 1,900 tourists will have been transferred from the area.
The Head of the Civil Defence Institute (Indeci), Luis Felipe Palomino Rodríguez has today confirmed that they are fully stocked and prepared with food and other provisions to cater for the affected areas.
MINCETUR has issued assurances that the national and regional authorities are doing their utmost to resolve the situation; working together with the Mayor’s Office of Machu Picchu Town, the regional government of Cusco, the National Culture Institute (INC), the National Police of Peru and the private sector, to continue the evacuation of tourists to Cusco, and onwards to Lima.
This statement from our partners on the ground in Peru:
As you are probably aware, severe rainfall has caused landslides along the railway tracks to Machu Picchu, making it impossible for trains to reach or depart Aguas Calientes.
As the bad weather continues, rehabilitation of the railway tracks can`t be currently done, so Peru Rail, the Cuzco local government, the federal government, the US embassy and Peru Rail have provided helicopters (a total of 10) to take passengers from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo, so that they can be then transferred to Cuzco.
Climate conditions are still not good enough for the helicopter operations to operate at full capacity, so the evacuation of passengers is not happening at a quick pace.
We do not expect the railway system to be operational at least before mid next week – if weather conditions allow.
Full evacuation of passengers can take a couple more days, although this is hard to predict as it really depends on the weather. Machu Picchu`s geographical conditions make it very hard for helicopters to land during bad weather.
For those passengers already in Peru we are offering alternative destinations. For those that are arriving to Peru in the very short term (at least between now and February 08th), our recommendation if for their trip to be cancelled.
For those passengers arriving after February 08th, our suggestion would be to wait a couple of days to allow for the railway operator and authorities to asses the damages and provide an estimated date for the train service to be operational again.
The Pura Aventura point of view
The rains at the moment are particularly bad and sad this year. Having said that, it’s common at this time of year, with the heaviest rains, for landslides to happen along the railway line.
It used to be that the tracks would be blocked for weeks which is why Orient Express bought Peru Rail, in order to ensure that tracks are cleared very quickly.
There are good years and bad years for landslides but it’s basically an annual occurrence.
It’s highly likely that access to Machu Picchu will be clear again in a few days and tourism will go back to normal.
Rebuilding homes and lives will take far longer.
I’m used to the news (notice it only becomes news when tourists are being airlifted, not when locals die) so perhaps sound a little callous or jaded. But, it’s one of the reasons we do what we do.
The guys we work with on the trail, on Titicaca, in the Amazon, benefit directly from tourist dollars getting in to feed development.
Not the ones staying in the fanciest hotels with uniformed doormen necessarily but certainly the more direct, connected, kind of holiday we operate.
I know that when we send someone to Peru, they are going to leave a) a light footprint, b) a positive impact. It’s not massive on a national level but your holiday is significant for one, two or ten families.
In summary, this week’s news should not affect your travel plans. Whilst I’d obviously like you to travel with Pura Aventura, that’s not important.
What is important is for you to go and to go well so that your visit continues the movement out of poverty for people in and around the Sacred Valley.
I just wanted you to know that we’re aware of the situation, we’re carrying on as normal not because we’re callous but because we think it’s right so to do.
Quick newsletter sign-up
show | hide News archive
see full archive