Peru’s Inca Trail permits go on sale for the first time since March 2020

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Permits for Peru’s Inca Trail on sale for the first time since March 2020. Guided tours will resume July 15 and will operate at 50% capacity.

Culture minister – Peru

After nearly 16 months, Inca Trail permits go on sale for the first time today through licensed operators at 50 percent reduced capacity for the remainder of the year starting July 15.

Today marks the first opportunity for hikers to resume booking guided tours to explore the infamous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu since the Peruvian government closed its borders last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travelers can only reserve a permit through authorized travel companies and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The number of hikers allowed on the trail has been cut in half from 500 to 250 until at least the end of 2021 and includes tourists, porters and guides, which means travelers will be limited to 100-120 per day.

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In addition to the reduced capacity to accommodate for social distancing, other pandemic-related modifications include smaller walking groups, temperature screenings, enhanced cleaning protocols for tents and equipment, social distancing between tents and trekkers and mask-wearing policies.

Rules for the 2022 season for the trail have not yet been released.

Although Peru is a year-round destination, April to October is considered to be the best time to visit given that it’s the country’s dry season, with June and July being the most popular among hikers. The trail is closed yearly in February for maintenance.

While there is no minimum age for hiking Inca, most travel companies recommend children be at least 10-years-old and able to handle a “moderate trek” surpassing 10,000 feet. Highlights include WinayhuaynaInti Punku, also known as Sun Gate, Llactapata Dead Woman’s Pass and of course Machu Picchu, one of the world’s top tourist destinations. For those looking to skip straight to Machu Picchu, you can book directly through the Peruvian government, with the similar caveat of booking ahead and being flexible due to capacity limitations and social distancing measures.

On June 22, it was reported that Peru is now responsible for the world’s highest known COVID-19 death toll based on population, as the government severely underestimated its official Covid-19 death toll, with actual numbers at nearly three times their official count. As previously reported by TPG, Peru instituted regional risk metrics of High, Very High and Extreme, based on COVID-19 risk and Lima remains listed as Very High. On June 21, the Arequipa Region went under strict lockdown for 15 days and the U.S. government is advising U.S. citizens to review their travel plans accordingly.

Air travel hits a pandemic peak, but more passengers are resisting mask mandates.

Memorial Day weekend is typically the start of the busy summer travel season, but this year it represents something more: the end of one of the roughest chapters in airline history.

Passenger traffic has been climbing for much of this year and hit a pandemic peak on Friday, when more than 1.95 million passengers passed through security checkpoints in the nation’s airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration. That level was last reached in early March 2020, as the coronavirus was just beginning its devastating spread across the United States.

However, with the return of passengers and the prospect of an end to billion-dollar losses, airlines have also seen a surge in disruptive and sometimes violent behavior — and a frequent flash point is the T.S.A.’s mandate that passengers remain fully masked throughout their flights.

Since Jan. 1, the Federal Aviation Administration has received about 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, of which about 1,900 involved refusals to comply with the mask mandate. The agency said that in the past it did not track reports of unruly passengers because the numbers had been fairly consistent, but that it began receiving reports of a “significant increase” in disruptive behavior starting in late 2020.

“We have just never seen anything like this,” Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said during an online meeting with federal aviation officials on Wednesday. “We’ve never seen it so bad.”

Two major airlines, American and Southwest, have postponed plans to resume serving alcohol on flights because of such incidents. American Airlines specified that alcohol sales — except in first and business class — would remain suspended through Sept. 13, when the T.S.A. mask mandate is set to expire.

Both airlines announced the shift after a woman punched a flight attendant in the face on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego a week ago, an assault that was captured on a widely watched video.

The flight attendant lost two teeth, according to her union, and the passenger has been charged with battery causing serious bodily injury and barred for life from flying Southwest.

More than a month ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines, saying that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks in most situations — except in airplanes, on mass transit, in health care centers and in congregate settings, like prisons.

On Sunday, on the CNN program “State of the Union,” the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, was asked what scientific evidence justified keeping the airplane mask mandate. “Part of it has to do with unique conditions of the physical space,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “Part of it has to do with the workplace and folks who don’t have a choice about being there.”

“The bottom line is, we have a set of rules in place to keep people safe,” he added, “and I really hope that travelers will respect flight attendants, bus operators, workers, anybody who is simply doing their job to keep people safe.


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