Many highways were closed and train services suspended, leaving a number of tourists stranded at Machu Picchu for days without transport to the UNESCO World Heritage site’s international airport in Cusco, 50 miles away.
Colorado resident Tom Gray’s group told NBC News in a video interview that they managed to get the last bus to Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to the fort.
He said that there are still dozens of people left at the top.
“Our guide had to bribe the protesters to move the rocks so they could take us back to our hotel,” said Gray, who was the first to arrive at Machu Picchu on Monday night. Their group had to pass through at least 18 road blocks built with trees and stones, he added, which were guarded by local villagers.
“We were 200 people, not the normal population of 5,000,” Gray said, adding that “we had the whole place to ourselves.”
“It was a big silver lining all around to being stuck here,” Gray said.
PeruRail said in a statement that all trains to and from Machu Picchu were suspended on Tuesday. Facebook🇧🇷
“The Peruvian government is organizing the evacuation of the most vulnerable foreign tourists from the village of Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu via four helicopters,” the US Embassy in Lima said in a statement on Saturday.
“The Government of Peru has informed the US Embassy that plans are underway to assist all travelers in the village of Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu to depart.”
About 400 tourists from Machu Picchu were escorted by tourism police to the Ollantaytambo district, northwest of Cusco, and then bused to the airport, the ministry said in a tweet on Sunday.
On Saturday, the ministry said it planned to “facilitate humanitarian flights”, giving priority to elderly and vulnerable people.
The violent unrest prompted an advisory from the US State Department advising citizens to “reconsider travel” to the country, and similar advice from other countries, including the UK and Spain.
After the tips, Daniels and McLaughlin booked their flights out of Lima for Sunday evening and Gray booked for Tuesday. “We can go to the Cusco airport, which is open and will get us to Lima,” Daniels told NBC News, adding that trains will resume once service resumes.
“We miss our families, we’d love to come home. Our kids are flying to be with us for Christmas and they can do it without us,” McLaughlin said.
Matthew Bodner and Associated Press contributed🇧🇷
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