Machu Picchu Temporarily Closes to Tourists Due to Ongoing Protests in Peru

Tourists who planned on visiting the site after Jan. 21 will be offered a refund.

Majestic mountain landscape of Machu Picchu in Peru

Bérenger Zyla/Getty Images

Entry to the famed archeological site Machu Picchu has been temporarily closed due to ongoing protests in Peru. 

Both the Machu Picchu Citadel and the Inca Trail Network have been closed to tourists amid political unrest in the country, CNN reported. Tourists who had a ticket for Jan. 21 or later will be offered the option of a refund for up to one month after the end of the protests.

Protests first erupted after President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December following an attempt to dissolve the legislature to prevent an impeachment vote, Reuters reported. Airports in several cities, including Cusco, have also been attacked by protesters.

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning against travel to Peru, telling Americans to"reconsider travel” to the country and “exercise increased caution due to civil unrest.”

"It's nationwide chaos, you can't live like this. We are in a terrible uncertainty — the economy, vandalism," a Lima resident told the wire service.

Last week, parts of the Urubamba-Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu railway were damaged during protests, suspending train service and temporarily stranding passengers, including hundreds of foreign nationals, CNN reported. PeruRail has since suspended service to and from Machu Picchu, among other destinations.

"We regret the inconvenience this causes our passengers however (it is) due to a situation beyond the company's control because of the protests in Cuzco," the company said in a statement, according to CNN.

The ancient Incan site of Machu Picchu was built in the fifteenth century and then rediscovered in 1911, according to UNESCO. Discoveries are still being made about the site, including that it may have originally been called Picchu or Huayna Picchu and that the ruins were not built after 1440 like experts initially believed, but several decades earlier.

Most travelers arrive either by taking the train from the nearby city of Cusco or by hiking there over several days.

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