Peruvian Tourism Ministry Considering Machu Picchu Cable Car

It is one of the most emblematic man made constructions ever built, and was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide internet poll.  At a height of nearly 8,000 feet above sea level in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is the most familiar of the remains of the Inca Empire and a must-see for anyone on a personalized tour of Peru.

However, until now, access has only been possible via a narrow winding road that rises from the town of Aguas Calientes on the valley floor, or via the Inca Trail, which involves a hike of between one and seven days accompanied by an official guide, which is one of the options available to travelers undertaking custom tours of Peru.  That could all be about to change.

The Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism is studying the possibility of installing a Machu Picchu cable car to improve and facilitate access.  Eduardo Ferreyros, the Tourism Minister, said, “we are looking into several different access options, including the possibility of a cable car and road access via (the nearby town of) Santa Teresa”.

Ferreyros mentioned that a potential extension to the visitor zone, increasing its surface area approximately eight-fold, is being considered, which, along with the additional access routes, “would allow for a more complete visitor experience”.  However, he stressed that this new development is not going to take place overnight, as several government agencies would be involved.  So, it may be a while before any new developments for those making plans for a Peru family trip.

Were the cable car construction to go ahead, it would be the second to be built in the country.  The first was completed earlier this year, leading to the ancient citadel of Kuelap, a fortress built by the Chachapoyas people at an altitude of approximately 10,000 feet, in the Andes of northern Peru.

The Chachapoyas were a civilization that pre-dated the Incas and lived in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of Peru.  Evidence suggests that Kuelap was built around the sixth century A.D. and, with its iconic Sarcophagi of Karajia, makes a fascinating stop on a luxury tour of the Amazon.

The cable car has a capacity for 1,000 visitors an hour, and is 670 meters high, thus affording panoramic views of the beautiful Amazonian scenery below.  The journey takes 20 minutes and represents a saving of three hours compared to the former access time, which will mean visitors will have time to take in other sites in the area, as part of a unique South American vacation.

It remains to be seen how an eventual Machu Picchu cable car, along with increased numbers of tourists, would affect the overall Machu Picchu visitor experience.  In the meantime, people planning private trips to Peru may feel that now is the last opportunity to visit the old Inca city in its present conditions, before any proposed changes are made.