Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Sanctuary of Machu Picchu with an area comprising just over 35 thousand hectares, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is much more than a set and archaeological sites nestled in the rugged cloud forest. Its strategic location on the eastern slope of the Andes and both banks of the Urubamba River, which runs in this section northwestern direction allows this unique protected cover what could be considered one of the most extraordinary country altitudinal transect area, and protect, within twenty linear kilometers ecosystems as diverse as the eternal snows, over six thousand feet, and steamy rainforests, just over 1700 m.
Seen from the air, the territories of the Sanctuary is shown as a large open book in half, with the mighty Urubamba river flowing in its central part and two major mountain ranges that fall on both sides of a deep valley covered with tropical vegetation .
On each side of the river, the limits of this natural area comprehensively protect entire sections of two of the most important sub-basins in the region: at its northern end the Cordillera Urubamba and in the south, Vilcabamba. And with them two of the most important summits: the Wekey Willka or Verónica (5750 m) and the majestic Salkantay (6271 m), considered the Apu or tutelary deity of the region. Rounding out the boundaries of the Sanctuary of the valleys of the Cusichaca and Acobamba, east and west, respectively.
Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna
Scientists have recorded within up to 10 living areas and two distinct natural ecoregions, the most important from an ecological point of view high Andean grasslands, tall dwarf forests and the high forest or yunga, represented by forests fog and cloud forest. This huge variety of ecological zones and habitat allows, in turn, the existence of an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, perfectly adapted to the specific conditions of their environment.
The natural world of Machu Picchu is therefore starts above 4000 m, where the wind sweeps unceasingly bunch grass plains and where the rocks are filled with lichens and moss. It is the territory of the Andean condor and taruka, the largest and most elusive of deer of the Andes; the playful vizcachas (rodent typical heights) and the puma or mountain lion. A land where the temperature variations are so intense that only some creatures survive: intense sun during the day and relentless frost at night.
Continuing our imaginary descent, we arrive at an area where cold winds from the snowy mountains meet the warm currents of the jungle amounting to form a strange world in miniature. Are dwarf forests, a scenario of twisted trees where the dimensions seem whim of nature have disrupted: here the trees are small and giant mosses; deer measure a few centimeters and hummingbirds the size of a pigeon. It is the land of bromeliads and rare flowers; the home of the Andean bear and the toucan ucumari high.
Further down, where humidity reigns throughout the year and the rains are more frequent than anywhere else in the country, cloud forests are shown to visitors from time to time only when merciful veil of fog covers it opens to reveal a magical and wonderful vision. This is one of the most prolific and unknown environments of nature, a kingdom of waterfalls and mysterious beings where the trees grow almost hanging from the cliffs, taking advantage of the low fertile soil they produce and holding on to large granite rocks that outcrop the mountains. This is home to the colorful cock of the rock, national bird of Peru, flocks of colorful tanagers, toucans and quetzals emerald high; of ocelots and coatis; the kingdom of giant ferns, bromeliads and orchids, whose group reaches here up to 200 species, including the spectacular highlighting wakanki and wiñay wayna, whose flowers have been used to name some of the most spectacular archaeological sites of the Inca Trail.
Finally, at the bottom of the valley and under the thermal effect of the waterways that run through the forests of the mountain brow provide ideal conditions for a wide variety of crops: coca achiote, corn, cacao, coffee and fruit . This was the pantry of the Incas, who resorted to it in pursuit of its most precious fruits, and remains today for the people settled in their domains. A land of bamboo forests that bloom after decades to die en masse, as following a mysterious and strange mandate; a territory where the valleys widen and rivers appease their anger to make way for transparent causes licking mountains nutrient-rich silt. This is the prelude to the great Amazonian forests.