The Latest News from Peru
Protect the Qollor R´it Shrine! Peaceful protest of the people of Ausangate, surrounding villages and many others from Cusco and the Sacred Valley. They want to protect the Sanctuary of Qollor R´iti. Each year, on the day of El Señor de Qollor R´iti, thousands make the pilgrimage to his shrine on the Ausangate glacier. This year, it seems, local authorities are considering a proposal for mining rights to a Chilean mining company to part of the land where the sacred shrine is located.
Over four thousand pilgrims from the communities of Paucartambo, Quispicanchi, Chinchero, Anta, Canchis, Urubamba, Acomayo y Paruro marched and danced through the city from San Sebastián to the INC office in the center of Cusco. They wore traditional dress and practiced the dances that they perform at the festival of El Señor de Qollor R´iti in an effort to pressure the INC to protect the sanctuary of the shrine.
To visit Qolloritty - see our tour to the Senor de Qolloritty celebrations.
Uncontacted Indians flee logging onslaught: The Brazilian government has discovered signs of some of the world's last uncontacted tribes living near the border with Peru. The Indians are believed to have fled illegal mahogany logging sweeping through Peru's rainforests, destroying the Indians' homelands and forcing them out of their traditional territory.
Inca Trail to close in February (as usual) Machu Picchu remains open: The Inca Trail will be closed during the month of February each year. The last group will depart on 31 January and the next group will start on 01 March. The closure is to allow conservation projects to take place, give an opportunity for camping facilities to be improved and to allow the vegetation to grow back. February is also the height of the wet season so you shouldn't miss too much. The shorter 2-day trek will remain open since this trek follows a different route. THE RUINS OF MACHU PICCHU WILL REMAIN OPEN AS NORMAL AS WILL THE TRAIN SERVICES BETWEEN CUSCO AND MACHU PICCHU."
Price hike for the Salkantay trail! The Salkantay trek (commonly referred to as the backdoor to Machu Picchu) can now only be done with an agency, similar to the Inca Trail that goes to Machu Picchu. Additionally, there have been a lot of price increases this month. In the monthly e-newsletter, I will give more information, however, just so you know, the Salkantya/Mollepata trek now cannot be done independently. We will have to make changes to the Alternative Inca trail info. packet before we reprint it. I suspect that in the next year, most of the treks will probably go the same way, and tourists will be charged permit fees. (From SAE newsletter)
From the 1st August 2006, the price of entry to Machu Picchu will be 118 soles (approx. $35US) for an adult ticket!
From July 1st, 2006 INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura) is charging a 120 sole entry fee for the Salkantay trail! Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu.
This whopping entry fee (approx. $40US) does not include entry to the ruins of Machu Picchu (approx. $37US) meaning that the two combined entry fees add up to $77US, more than the combined Inca Trail/Machu Picchu entry fee!
The South American Explorers Club says the following in their latest newsletter:
Tourists charged for Alternative Inca trails: This year, the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC) have decided to introduce a fee for the following treks: Salkantay, Choquechirau and Espiritu Pampa. Rumour has it that the cost for Salkantay and Choquequirau will be 120 soles and for Espiritu Pampa, 217 soles. These fees have not been officially confirmed.
Our comments continued: Travel agencies operating in Cusco have still not yet been "officially" advised of the fee although a INC representative is collecting it in Mollepata prior to the Salkantay trek beginning! Moreover, agencies have not passed on this cost to their passengers (because they were not aware of the entry fee being introduced) so passengers do no want to be lumped with an EXTRA (HUGE) cost at last minute! But then, is it fair that agencies wear such a cost?
Travel operators and interested citizens in Cusco argue that it is unfair of INC to introduce a phenonemally HUGE fee (when last year it was NOTHING!) when they currently provide no services (eg. rubbish collection or toilets)! A fee of even $10US would have been more reasonable and realistic than a $40US fee!
It seems it is a blatant "money grabbing" action to cash in on the large numbers of tourists now doing Salkantay as they cannot get places on the regulated Inca Trail!
It is extremely ironic that even though the Inca Trail is highly regulated, there are no restrictions on the Salkantay trek leading to environmental degredation.
If you are doing the Salkantay trek in the near future it is advised that you contact your agency as to whether you will be required to pay this entry fee!
In the opinion of the well travelled staff at Apus Peru Adventure Travel, if you can't get a place on the Inca Trail, stay away from the increasingly touristed Salkantay and try one of the unique tours found at True Adventure Tours.