Located in the Cusco province of Urubamba, in Peru, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Its dazzling Inca complexes, archaeological sites and monuments of great historical and cultural value have led it to be recognized and admired throughout the world.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is also a protected natural area, which besides housing an important historical legacy, protects an extraordinary biodiversity. Its more than 80,000 acres, with forested areas, steep mountains, summits and snow-capped mountains, is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species.
Flora and fauna
The Urubamba River crosses from east to west to form a deep canyon; and due to its location, between the Andes and the Amazon, this natural area allows the presence of microclimates which are a source of great biological diversity.
Mammals such as the Andean fox, puma, vizcacha, añuje (dasyproctidae), coati, spectacled bear and white-tailed deer, among others, can all be found here. With respect to birds, more than 420 species have been identified, including the rock cockerel, Andean condor, torrent duck and the endemic Inca wren. The sanctuary of Machu Picchu is in addition home to 377 species of butterflies, 15 types of amphibians and 25 types of reptiles, 9 of which are types of lizards and 16 are snakes.
In terms of flora, trees include the alder, white cedar, red cinchona, pacae blanco (Delostoma integrifolium), basul, Brazilian coral tree, chachacomo (Escallonia resinosa), yanay (Nectandra furcate) and laurel, as well as forests of unca (Myrcianthes oreophylla), queñua (Polylepis racemosa) and t'asta (Escallonia myrtilloides.
A great range of orchids also grow in the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, flowers with complex shapes and singular beauty. More than 400 species have been recorded in this location, although it is estimated that there are probably more than 1,000.
Orchids can be observed along the routes and paths that cross the sanctuary. A nature reserve, protecting more than 370 species of orchids, is located near the Vilcanota River and is managed by the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Here, you will find the world's largest collection of native orchids, according to the American Orchid Society.
In addition to beautiful orchids, this natural paradise covering over 12 acres is home to several species of birds and butterflies. It is also a refuge for Andean bears, which are part of a conservation program.
Did you know?
- Machu Picchu was declared a Mixed World Heritage Site (natural and cultural) by UNESCO in 1983.
- This natural area has a dry and cold climate in the high Andean zone, being temperate and humid in the jungle brow zone. The rainy season is from November to March, although there may be fogs or showers all year round.
- Inkaterra won third place as the best hotel brand in the world in the World's Best Awards 2019 given by the prestigious U.S. travel magazine, Travel+Leisure.
Sources: Sernanp/ El Comercio/ RPP/ Andina/ iperu.org/ spanish.xinhuanet.com