Natural and archaeological protected area, declared Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO – 1983). The sanctuary covers an area of 32,592 hectares and was created in 1981 to protect archaeological sites and endangered species of fauna. It has a great landscape beauty and a rich variety of fauna and flora that exist in the diversity of ecological floors ranging from 1,800 to 3,800 meters above sea level. Inside the sanctuary, the archaeological sites of the Inca city of Machu Picchu stand out.
Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (SHM) is the most visited natural protected area in Peru. Declared Natural and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity, it protects archaeological complexes, as well as ecosystems with a great diversity of wild flora and fauna, some of which are endangered.
The main attraction is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World: Inca city of Machu Picchu, which is connected to several archaeological sites through the network of the Qhapaq Ñan (Inca Trail). There are currently six Inca Trail routes available (four long and two short), one of the most popular treks in South America.
Visiting the Shrine is a journey of encounter with the Inca civilization, with the Andes and the Amazon. It is the home of several species of wildlife such as the spectacled bear, the Andean fox, the vizcacha, the cockerel of the rocks and the Andean condor, among others. It is to get in touch with the flora, where the orchids stand out, a total of 309 registered species and, according to estimates, more to discover.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is located in the district of Machu Picchu, in the province of Urubamba in the department of Cusco. It has an extension of 32,592 hectares. The sanctuary is a protected natural area of international renown, well known for the presence of impressive Inca archaeological complexes, archaeological sites and monuments of high historical and cultural value. Manuel Chávez Ballón Site Museum.
However, the sanctuary also has significant environmental value, with forested areas, rugged mountains and snow-capped peaks. It is an area of interaction between the Andean and Amazon domains and forms part of a narrow transition strip between both ecosystems. The terrain is predominantly rugged and steeply sloping.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is located in an area of exceptional geographical characteristics. In it you can find snow-capped peaks above 6,000 m.a.s.l., to the hottest and wettest part of the Urubamba River (which divides the sanctuary in two, forming the Torontoy Canyon) below 2,000 m.a.s.l. Its strong gradient, increased by the complex system of winds that it propitiates, creates microclimates that are a source of great biological diversity.
Objective: To protect endangered species, such as the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the rock cockerel (Rupicula peruviana), as well as the archaeological remains present.
To this exceptional natural wealth is added the incomparable archaeological jewel of Machu Picchu, a place that was declared a Mixed World Heritage Site – natural and cultural – by UNESCO in 1983. Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the strongest magnetic points of South America and the country.
The Sanctuary has tropical vegetation in the lower part of the western sector, in the Aobamba river basin. It is a typical ecosystem of the so-called “jungle eyebrows”, which take this name because they constitute the last remnant of native vegetation in this mountainous area, are the upper limit to where the tropical vegetation in this part of the Andes reaches. The jungle brow presents a great diversity of flora and fauna species, which together with the mountain ecosystems make Machu Picchu a special place.
Archaeological Sites in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Within the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, in addition to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, there are numerous archaeological sites and monuments of high historical and cultural value and world renown, such as Inca Raq’ay, Intiwatana, Intipata, Choquesuysuy, Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Phuyupatamarca, Sayacmarka, Runkurraq’ay, Wayllabamba, Torontoy, Waynaq’ente, Machuqente, Q’ente, Qoriwayrachiwa, Pulpituyoc, Patallacta and Palccay.
These sites and monuments are associated with complex and surprising irrigation systems and cultivation terraces and intertwined roads, all of which express the high degree of development of ancient Peruvians.
Flora and Fauna Watching in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
The most representative of the area include the torrent duck (Merganetta armata), the duck of the torrents (Merganetta armata), the duck (Dasyprocta kalinowskii), the vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum), the coati (Nasua nasua), the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and the dwarf deer (Mazama chunyii), the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus), the puma (Puma concolor), the woodpecker (Piculus rubiginosus), the rock cockerel (Rupicola peruviana), the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the American otter (Lontra longicaudis).
In the area of Warmihuañusca you can see viscachas and deer, and sometimes even spectacled bears.
The flora is mainly represented by the alder (Alnus acuminata), the toroc or cético (Cecropia tacuna), the white cedar (Cedrela lilloi), the husk (Cinchona pubescens), white pacae (Delostoma integrifolium), basul (Erythrina edulis), pisonay (Erytrina falcata), chachacomo (Escallonia resinosa), yanay (Nectandra furcata) and laurel (Nectandra laurel). In the Warmihuañusca pass you can see relict forests of unca (Myrcianthes oreophylla), queñua (Polylepis racemosa) and t’asta (Escallonia myrtilloides).
The orchids in Machu Picchu also show exceptional levels in the sanctuary, 340 species have been recorded, or about 20% of the total variety of the 1,700 species identified in Peru.
In the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu there is a project dedicated to the research and conservation of native orchids of Machu Picchu, which maintains the genetic material and repopulates the areas affected by fires and/or natural disasters within the Historic Sanctuary. To date, 9 new species have been reported for science, including the Oncidium koechliniana Collantes & Gerlach sp as well as 75 new records for the site.
To appreciate the orchids of the sanctuary there are several routes, especially the Inca Trail.