The Pan American Games, also known as the Pan Am Games, are coming to Peru in the summer of 2019. This is an exciting time for Peru as it will be the first time Peru hosts its largest ever sporting event.
Consequently, this may create a whirlwind of problems for both people going to the Pan Am Games and tourists who frequent Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and other areas of Peru during the prime tourist season.
What are the Pan American Games?
The Pan Am Games are a series of summer sporting events, such as you would see during the Summer Olympics and some you wouldn’t see during the Summer Olympics, between countries of North and South America. It combines 39 total sports disciplines, and a total of 41 countries are set to descend on Peru for the two weeks of events. The event is held every four years, the year before the Summer Olympics are held. The next Summer Olympics take place in 2020; therefore 2019 is the year of the Pan Am Games. Following the Pan Am Games, the host country hosts the Parapan American Games, which athletes with physical disabilities compete against each other. Just like the Olympic Games, the Pan Am Games have a torch relay culminating with an opening ceremony.
Where are the Pan American Games?
For 2019, as stated above, the Pan Am Games are being hosted by Peru. The games will take place in the capital city, Lima, in various areas; however, most of the events will be concentrated in the San Luis District. Additionally, there is a torch relay that will take place starting at Machu Picchu. The torch will pass over 5,500 km through locations such as Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Ica, and Tarapoto to name a few.
When are the Pan American Games?
The torch relay will start the path to the opening ceremony of the Pan Am Games on July 26, 2019, with the closing ceremony taking place August 11, 2019. This coincides with the peak tourist season for many travelers to Peru, including Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Nazca Lines, and many other sites. The combination of the two will create the perfect storm of travelers heading in and out of Peru. Machu Picchu’s busiest two months are July and August with over 150,000 people visiting in August, which means over 4,800 people are visiting per day! To compare, that’s 2,300 more people per day than the slowest time, which is February.
What Does Hosting the Pan American Games Mean for Travelers to Peru?
This means that Peru will be THAT much busier during the peak travel season to Peru. Take into account; there will be a total of 6,680 athletes set to attend the Pan Am Games in Lima. On top of that, it's expected there will be more than a quarter million visits to the Pan Am Games. This means that Peru will be BUSY during this time.
So what should I expect or do? If you are a traveler coming to Peru during the Pan Am Games you should expect and plan for delays in your travel plans. If you are hoping to set a speed record for getting in and out of the Lima airport, the most common connection to nearly all the other Peru airports, you can forget it. Make sure that you plan to spend an extra hour or two at the airport. Additionally, you should probably even plan an additional buffer day on each side of your flights, so you don’t miss any connections you have.
Additionally, it's been confirmed that the Pan Am Games torch relay will span 23 days before the start of the opening of the date of the game of July 26, 2019. The torch will begin it’s path in Peru at Machu Picchu after it arrives from Mexico. I would recommend avoiding Machu Picchu during from July 3-5, 2019, as the roads to Machu Picchu small and this will cause a massive amount of traffic. However, if you MUST go to Machu Picchu around July 3-5, make sure you have accounted for the enormous amount of traffic you will experience or even get to Aguas Calientes a day ahead of time. The combination of the most traveled tourist site and the start of the torch relay for the largest sporting event Peru has ever seen is going to make Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo a circus.
Next, you should be sure to pack a little extra cash on your trip to Peru during this time. With all that additional traffic, you can expect the cost of taxi trips, Uber, food, tours, and hotels to rise during that time. The extra demand for these services means that people will be willing to pay the price to get better travel options and you will be spending the higher rate as a result. It's expected that most of the athletes and their families will tour Peru after the conclusion of the games on August 11, 2019. Therefore you should expect increased prices and increased traffic for up to a month after the completion of the games.
You’re going to have to be flexible, carry some extra cash, and be additional patient if you are planning to head to Peru in July or August in 2019. The 2019 Pan American Games are a huge milestone for Peru and something they are very proud of. This is an opportunity for them to show their pride on an international level and travelers may pay a small price during a fantastic time for Peru.