Tourism in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu - the lost city of the Incas
• The Inca Trail has ten different climatic zones and sub-zones, from deserts to tropical Andean cloud forest; home to exotic plants and animal life. The trail is covered with over 400 varieties of orchids, begonias, trees, and bushes as well as a varied collection of fauna including the condor, pumas and miniature deer.
• Stunning scenery with the snowy peaks of the Andes (over 6,000 metres), fast flowing rivers and deep valleys.
• Machu Picchu, the 'Lost City of the Incas' is the best-known and most spectacular site in South America. Machu Picchu are quechua (indigenous Indian) words that mean "old" and "mountain".
• Hiking the "Inca Trail". This was the Royal Highway that led pilgrims and officials of the Empire to the Sacred City of the Incas. The Trail is paved with blocks of stone, It has stone stairways, tunnels and wooden bridges. The trek is 32 kilometres long starting at kilometre 88 of the railway and ending at the Holy City.
• The nearby town of Aguas Calientes has thermal (hot water) baths.
• Pisac is the main craftwork centre on the high plains. The main square is small, with a colourful market on Sunday mornings.
• Rafting trips can be taken down the Urubamba River
For Management PlansAlternative Inca Trails are gaining popularity with travellers unable or unwilling to book a slot three to six months in advance. These treks can be booked a day or two in advance and can cost less than half as much as a hike on the Inca Trail. This is beginning to spread the economic benefits of tourism more widely throughout the region.Porters welcome the 20kg load limit.The licensing of tour operators should result in improved quality for tourists and better protection for the site. The tour operators who infringe the rules, or offer a bad service will lose their licence to use the Trail.Japanese geologists claim that Machu Picchu could gradually slip off its mountain saddle.Unmanaged growth in tourism is destroying one of the world's premier archeological sites, some planners say."Just look at the Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. It is being worn out, eroded away," said Jorge Pacheco, head of Machu Picchu Management, an umbrella agency coordinating the various agencies running the ancient stone citadel. "Now that only registered tour companies are allowed to offer Inca trail excursions, this will help to ensure that hikers keep to trail conservation rules".Tourists say the numbers of visitors to the citadel are taking the pleasure out of their trip. There are no quiet places left for reflection."We will now receive 10 percent of ticket receipts from Machu Picchu," Oscar Valencia, the Mayor of Aguas Calientes said. "We can make a dignified town for tourists."The site is remote and difficult to get to, but this is the reason for its remarkable state of...