Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Train to Machu Picchu Reopens



The train to Machu Picchu finally reopens in full, reports The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller.


Rail service to Peru's main tourist attraction Machu Picchu, one of the world's most prized heritage sites, reopened in full last week after months of repairs since heavy rains cut off the site early this year.


Train operators said normal service had resumed on Thursday for the entire rail line from the regional capital Cusco to the ancient Inca citadel.


The route had been partially reopened in late April, combined with bus service for some of the way, after the railway was damaged in hundreds of places by flooding and landslides prompted by rains that hit the country in late January.


The railway is the only access for many tourists, but hikers can trek for four days over high-elevation Inca trails to reach the remote site.


In June, further disruption hit the region with strikes in the southeastern part of the country that closed railway access for 48 hours.


The 15th-century city perched some 2500 metres above sea level is the most visited site in South America, a pillar of the Cusco region and the source of 90 per cent of Peru's tourist revenues, according to the country's finance ministry.


In January, thousands of stranded foreign tourists were evacuated from the small village of Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, threatened by rising waters from the Vilcanota river.


The Tourism Observatory had warned that Peru stood to lose up to 0.64 percent of GDP if tourism declined, with particularly serious repercussions for Cusco, where some 175,000 people make a living in the industry.


On average, more than 2000 tourists from all over the world visit Machu Picchu every day, tourism ministry officials said.

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