Machu Picchu Fake News?
If you Googled “Machu Picchu News” you will probably come across many blogs similar to this one, but what is interesting and not noticeable for most people is that there is almost as much fake news about Machu Picchu than there is correct news out there. In contrary to other self proclaimed “victims” of fake news, Peru’s case is not as much about delegitimizing others rather than shooting oneself in the foot or making an “autogol” as we say in Peru. The fake news about Machu Picchu in 99% of the cases is born due to the lack of a general organization or even internationally focussed new redaction ensuring a good flow of information to the outside. Someone that makes sure that news is still news when it gets out there rather than days/weeks/months after the fact. Time, that in most cases has been futile providing the bombastically announced plans with a slap of reality and therefore making them redundant in any sense. Due to this dynamic they actually have a counterproductive effect allowing the discussion and controversy revolving around many of these plans to resurface, provoking new protests. Following a list of some of the fake news we have found in recent months on the worldwide web and beyond.
Machu Picchu Airport
We have noticed that even large international respected news agencies in recent weeks often have published news that as far as Peru goes has been put on hold months ago dealing about the so called Machu Picchu Airport. (https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-48279144 & https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/machu-picchu-airport-peru-scli-intl/index.html) It is true that Cusco airport at this moment has been swallowed by the city as the complete surroundings have been constructed nowadays. The landing strip can also receive smaller types of planes and airport facilities can use an urgent update. This is the reason why a larger airport, located outside of Cusco has been proposed several decades ago allowing for larger planes, more international connections and more movement in general. The airport in reference has been a point of discussion for more than 20 years now and it looks for another 20 to come. The latest updated however is that the first stone has been laid by (now) ex-president Kuczynski in February 2017 but that this was immediately followed by new lawsuits claiming that the studies on which the construction is based were outdated and had to be done over again. This meant a complete stop of any activities and suspension of any licenses or contracts regarding the construction of the airport. On top of this, due to its location (the airport actually would be located close to the town of Chinchero, located on the high plains between Cusco and the Sacred Valley at an altitude of almost 3,800m (12,500ft)) pilots, environmental groups and even some airlines have expressed doubts about the viability of this new airport. Nevertheless, as there are a lot of parties that thrive and perish with a large international airport for Cusco, as can be seen in the ramshack town that already rose at the proposed location for the entrance of the airport before one brick was laid, it will not be easy to get out of the deadlock that is currently in place. One of the mayor forces looking to stop the large Cusco airport is Lima airport as they fear losing a lot of flights and the travelers needing a stopover in Lima that would now be able to fly to Cusco directly. At this time most international flights to Lima arrive in the evening or night and there are no evening or night connections to Cusco, obliging many passengers to spend at least one night in Lima.
Machu Picchu Entrance Tickets
The entrance tickets for Machu Picchu have, ever since the government felt a lot more money could be made from these and starting intervening, became a nightmare for anyone involved. Rules, numbers, regulations and what is and what is not allowed change on an almost daily basis but after 4 years of changes hardly any of these have also been implemented in real life. To save you the long list of changes that have been made over the last couple of years we will summarize what are the facts at this moment; June 2019. Nowadays tickets have to be bought based on a certain entrance time starting each hour from 6.00am till the lastest turn at 1.00pm. The entrance ticket allows for a maximum 4 hour visit but due to the lack of a system checking the check out time of the site, one can remain basically till the end of the day (Machu Picchu closes at 5.30pm) . Therefore only the entrance time is being taken into consideration. For those combining Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu, there are two entrance times for the early slot (7.00am) and one for the later slot (10.00am), all adding up to 400 tickets daily. The good thing about the fixed entrance times is that the buses are more or less connected to these times and only allow the visitors of the next slots to board. This way the hour long bus lines should be a tale of the past. Apart from this no other changes have been made to the entrance tickets for Machu Picchu since 5 years ago. One thing to keep in mind is that the fixed circuits that are designed to visit the site and allow the best flow of passengers is getting more and more implemented and will soon have to be fully respected by all visitors.
Trains VS. Cable Car and even Elevator
One of the more popular Machu Picchu news items deals with the uncontested monopoly the train companies have on how to travel to Machu Picchu. As one can only walk or get there by train obviously the train companies (Peru Rail, partially owned by Belmond which is owned by LVMH, one of the worlds largest luxury company and Inca Rail, owned by Carlson Wagonlit, one of the worlds largest players in the tourism industry) have a lot of benefit in maintaining this convenience and it seems there is little pressure from the government to do something about breaking this monopoly. Nevertheless for years now there have been presented proposals and initiatives on alternative ways to travel to Machu Picchu but none has been worked in any serious sense of the word. The most popular proposal has been the cable cart, running either from Aguas Calientes or in some megalomane plan from as far as the Sacred Valley. Since two years there is a cable cart running to the highlands Ruins of Kuelap in northern Peru and cities such as Medellin, Colombia and La Paz, Bolivia have been using cable carts for years as public transport so the technology is locally available. Nevertheless the slopes of the granite like mountains surrounding Machu Picchu are too steep taking into consideration the relatively narrowness of the valley below. Therefore a cable cart would have to make several zigzags on the way up, increasing construction costs as well as the possible damage to Machu Picchu, a UNESCO protected heritage site. An even wilder idea came to light earlier this year and proposes an underground elevator carved into the mountain taking you in two or three levels (as with the Eiffel Tower) to the top of the mountain where the shaft would surface and the visitors could enter Machu Picchu. I am no engineer but cannot imagine this to be an easy task or the surface being easy to drill an elevator shaft of well over 300 meters deep so am pretty sure this is another plan that can go in the bin. It is therefore pretty safe to say that for the next ten years (would it not be for an amazing revolution in Uber Drone) we will still be traveling to Machu Picchu by train.
On a side note it may be mentioned that the plans for a cable cart to the Inca ruins of Choquequirao seems more likely in the near future. This site can only be reached with a 4 day hike and is the only other known Inca site in size that can compete with Machu Picchu. The location of Choquequirao also provides for an easier implementation of a cable car