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Peru shuts down Machu Picchu ‘indefinitely’ following anti-government protests

20th January 2023 | Thousands of people poured into Peru’s capital city of Lima, many from remote Andean regions, to protest against President Dina Boluarte. Video / AP

Tourists have long traveled to Peru to see the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu and walk along the Inca Trail.

From Saturday, this is no longer possible, after officials shut down the country’s most famous tourist attraction and the Inca Trail “indefinitely”, following the increased risk posed by growing anti-government protests.

The Culture Ministry said it had closed the sites “to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general.”

Protests against the new president have grown, resulting in hundreds of arrests and more than 55 deaths.

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Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said 417 visitors were stuck at Mahu Picchu and were unable to get out. More than 300 of them were foreigners visiting on holiday. Some tourists have attempted to leave the site by walking to the nearest village, Piscacucho, which takes over six hours.

Cusco, where Machu Picchu is found, has faced some of the most serious conflicts and resulted in the temporary closure of its airport after protesters attempted to storm it. Meanwhile, the train service to the 15th-century citadel has been closed since Thursday.

What about tourists who have purchased a ticket?

The Peruvian Ministry of Culture required all visitors to purchase an official permit to visit Machu Picchu, which were limited to 2,500 per day. For this reason, permits are sold out months in advance and cost approximately $60, not including extras like guides or trails.

Tourists who had already purchased tickets to visit Machu Picchu will receive a full refund, as long as the ticket was for the period between when the site was shut, last Saturday, until one month after protests officially ended, according to the Culture Ministry.

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Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly when these protests will end. During the weekend, the government extended its 30-day state of emergency in Lima, Cusco, Puno and Callao.

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