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Peru’s Machu Picchu, “The Lost City of the Incas,” is one of the most-visited cultural sites in the world, with travel advisors and tour companies guiding many of the up to 1.5 million people who make the journey to the Sacred Valley northwest of Cusco.

Right now, however, visitors to Machu Picchu—along with the rest of Peru—has dwindled to a trickle in the face of a prolonged strike and sometimes violent protests against the Peruvian government.

The unrest in Peru has been brewing since December and blossomed into a nationwide strike in early January. On Jan. 4, the U.S. State Department warned that rail service to Cusco was shut down and that demonstrators could block roadways, and urged U.S. citizens visiting Machu Picchu to depart immediately.

More than 50 people have died during protests demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, who has refused to step down.

Peru was Experiencing Increase in Bookings Before Protests

Daniel Taramona, co-founder of Miami-based Tara Tours, Inc., has been arranging tours to Machu Picchu, Peru, and the rest of Central and South America since 1980. “With all this events in Peru and bad press, all our bookings to Peru were canceled or postponed for January and February,” Taramona tells Recommend. “It’s very sad, as Peru was experiencing a tremendous increase in bookings after the pandemic.”

Peru’s legislature is currently debating holding early elections this year in order to ease tensions in the country. The protests have largely been held in rural areas, but also spread to the capital, Lima, in mid-January.

Taramona expressed hope that early elections “will calm down the situation.”

“Everybody in the tourism sector wants to go back to work,” he says.

Taramona, who was in Lima last week, adds that life in the capital seemed to have returned to normal after the Jan. 19-20 protests, with restaurants and shops reopened.