On February of every year, the National Institute of Culture in Cusco closes the World Heritage site of the Inca Trail for maintenance.The historic Inca Trail which leads to the Archeological Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Cusco) will remain closed to tourists during the month of February, re-opening on March 1 in accordance with the Inca Trail Usage Rules.
The Management Authority of the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu determines that the area close every year for routine maintenance, in keeping with Peru’s wider aim of sustainable tourism.
Adopted by the National Institute of Culture (Cusco Branch), the measure encourages natural vegetation recovery and gives time to asses tourism on the route.
Moreover, the measure allows the maintenance of the stone slabs lining the trail, the handrails, and the dozen of archeological sites that are found along the trail, all of which are part of the main attractions for visitors around the world.
The shut down begins close to the archeological site of Piscacucho, where tourists start their trek to the citadel.
February is chosen as there is a natural lull in the tourism that also coincides with the rainy season in the Andes.
At almost 70 kilometers long, the Inca Trail travels through forested and mountainous areas that are located more than 4,000 metres above sea level.
Around 500 people travel this stone route daily, crossing mountains and rivers and climbing slopes until finally reachingMachu Picchu- a trip that takes close to four days.
Data supplied by the National Institute of Culture in Cusco states that approximately 54,000 tourists (national and foreign) travelled the route of the Inca Trail in 2005.