Historic Sanctuary of Machu
IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORY
Resource Protected Area)
Natural / Cultural World
Heritage Site - Natural Criteria ii, iii / Cultural
Criteria i, iii
The site is
located on the highest part of the eastern Andes, above
the Rio Urubamba and northwest of
(Cusco Department). The park is accessible by road or by
rail from the lower valley and then bus or car to the
ruins. 13°10'S, 72°33'W
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
Created as a historical sanctuary (Santuario
Histórico) on 8 January 1981, under Law (Supreme
Resolution) DS 001-81-AA. Inscribed on the World
Heritage List in 1983.
(property of four main "predios": Mandorpampa, Q'ente,
Torontoy and Santa Rita de Q'ente).
ALTITUDE Ranges from 1,800 m. to 3,800 m.
above sea level.
OF MACHU PICCHU
The site lies in
the Selva Alta zone, and includes part of a highly
dissected mountain massif of the high Andes plateau,
which rises steeply from the Urubamba River valley. The
area around the ruins of Machu Picchu consists of many
rocky pinnacles with exposures supporting thin soils,
although the area also includes sites with complex
systems of old Inca terraced land constructed to
conserve the soils. The Urubamba alluvial basin is an
almost continuous zone of arable and pastoral farming
land. Geologically the area is very complex, being a
combination of marine sedimentary rocks of the
Cretaceous-Tertiary period and intrusive volcanic
material, including lavas and granites. The sedimentary
deposits include Ordovician schists, slates and
quartzite. Streams and rivers feed the major Rio
Urubamba valley system as well as a number of smaller
valleys in the north such as that of Quillabamba (MAA,
The annual temperature
averages 16°C and annual rainfall is between 1500 mm and
3000 mm at low altitudes. At 2,500 m altitude the
average temperature drops to 10.2°C, and annual rainfall
is 2170 mm. The dry season lasts from May to September
and the wet season from October to April.
OF MACHU PICCHU
The site has been
influenced by man for many centuries, leading to a
combination of man-made habitats, paramo grassland,
Polylepis thickets, partially degraded virgin
forest and former cultivated land which has reverted
back to forest or scrub. At lower altitudes, patches of
woodland predominate, their extent being dependant upon
past human interference, especially during the Inca
period. The vegetation rises from the dry subtropical
forest along the river valleys to the very humid low
montane forest. Trees represented in the denser woodland
include locally endangered mahogany Swietenia
macrophylla and species of the following genera;
Ceder, Podocarpus (the only conifer in
Peru), Lauraceae Ocotea, Cunoniaceae
Weinmannia, Nectandra and Cecropia.
A number of tree ferns are present, including
Cyathea sp. and also palms such as
Geromoina sp., Guasca sp. and
Riupala sp. (MAA, 1981). Reeds Phragmites
sp., willow and alder occur around rivers and streams,
whilst open grassland, low shrubs and scattered thickets
of Polylepis sp. and bamboo are found close to
the ruins (Parker et al, 1982). The high
altitude subalpine paramo includes many Graminae,
Festuca sp., Stipa sp. and Puya sp.
such as P. raimondii (I). The mountain ridges are
characterised by bamboo Gaudua sp. (Parker
et al., 1982).
OF MACHU PICCHU
Mammals include otter Lutra
longicaudis, dwarf brocket deer Mazama
chunyii, long-tailed weasel Mustela
frenata, Pampas cat Felis colocolo and ocelot
Felis pardalis. One of the most threatened
species found within the area is spectacled bear
Tremarctos ornatus (V) (Jorgenson, 1982). The
bird community includes
peruviana. Low altitude areas and agricultural
fields are characterised by the presence of mountain
caracaras Phalcobaenus megalopterus and Andean
lapwing Vanellus resplendus, whilst red-backed
hawk Buteo polysoma, American kestrel Falco
sparverius, speckled teal Anas flavirostris
and Andean gull Larus serranus. Torrent duck
Merganetta armata, white-capped dipper Cinclus
leucocephalus and fasciated tiger-heron Tigrisoma
lineatum are found in narrow stream valleys are
associated with riverside trees. Species around the
ruins include black-tailed trainbearer Lesbia
victoriae, white-winged black-tyrant Knipolegus
aterrimus, tufted tit tyrant Anairetes
alpinus, cinereous conebill Conirostrum
cinereum, blue-capped tanager Thraupis
cyanocephala and rufous-collared sparrow
Zonotrichia capensis. In addition, a new
species of wren Thryothorus has been observed in
the bamboo thickets (Parker et al., 1982).
Snakes such as Boa sp. are present and there are
numerous lizards and frogs in the damper areas.
Birds of Machu Picchu Photo Gallery (5)
Hummingbirds of Machu Picchu Photo Gallery (8)
The park was
established to protect the landscape of the renowned
Machu Picchu archaeological site, founded by the
culture. It is thought that it was a royal Inca
residence and was perhaps the centre for collecting coca
from surrounding plantations. The site eventually fell
into ruin, was covered by the encroaching forest, and
'lost to science' until re-discovery in 1911. There are
also the remains of the Inca Way in the area, and local
legends, including that of the spectacled bear, which is
thought to serve as a messenger between the spirits of
the high elevations and those of the jungle (Anon,
LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION
Much of the
park area is settled with many small campesino
communities and farms especially on the lower slopes.
The original inhabitants were skilled in irrigation and
built terraces and drainage which extend long distances
across irregular ground. Agriculture (maize and barley)
and livestock grazing (llamas, cattle and sheep) are the
dominant economic activities and occur in over 20,000ha
of the park. The local economy is also supported by
tourists visiting the Inca ruins (MAA, 1981; Peyton,
1983). The nearby city of Cusco was the Inca capital and
still remains an important town with over 105,000
inhabitants. It is the administrative and commercial
centre for a considerable part of the Urubamba basin
(INRENA, pers. comm., 1995).
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES
the mid 1980s, some 180,000 people annually visited the
Inca Trail and the ruins. More recently, the figure has
risen to 300,000, including 7,000 on the Inca trails
(Ferreyros, 1988). Accommodation includes a hotel and
camping facilities. A museum exists at the ruins and
there are plans to develop the area further for tourism.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES
IN MACHU PICCHU
Since 1982, research has been undertaken on
the ecology of the spectacled bear in cooperation with
the New York Zoological Society (Peyton, 1982).
Vegetation transects have been undertaken, and over
4,500 herbarium specimens have been collected. Numerous
bird studies have been made (Parker et
creation of the
Inca Empire, which appears to have been
naturally cut in the continuous rock escarpment, is an
area of outstanding natural beauty which encompasses
patches of high altitude habitats and associated
wildlife. The site also harbours populations of the
threatened spectacled bear.
Anon. (1988). Fire reaps havoc in wildlife
sanctuary. Animals international. VIII/27. p4.
Anon. (1988b). Fire claim jungle bears. The
Guardian newspaper. 17 August, 1988. p5.
Dourojeanni, M.J. (1985). Management problems in
the Andean National Parks and protected areas of Peru.
In The Hindu Kush-Himalaya. Kathmandu: King
Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation and the
International Centre for integrated mountain
Ferreyros, A. (1988). Situación actual de los
Parques Nacionales y Otras Unidades de Conservación en
El Perú. Asociación de Ecología y Conservación.
Jorgenson, J.P (1982). Peru report. Spectacled
bear specialist group Newsletter 3. 6-8.
Jorgenson, J.P (1983). Peru field report.
Spectacled bear specialist group
Newsletter 4. 11-12.
MAA (1981). Lista de información actualizada
sobre unidades de conservación. Ministerio de
Agricultura y Alimentación, Lima. Report. 2pp
Parker, T.A. (1980). Notes on little known birds
of the upper Urubamba Valley, southern Peru.
Auk 97: 167-176.
Parker, T.A. and J.P. O'Neill (1976). An
introduction to bird-finding in Peru: Part II. The
Carpish Pass Region of the Eastern Andes along the
Central Highway. Birding 8: 205-216.
Parker, T.A., Parker, S.A. and Plenge, M.A.
(1982). An annotated checklist of Peruvian
birds. Buteo books, Vermillion, South Dakota.
Peru (1981). Machu Picchu. World
Peyton, B. (1983). Spectacled bear habitat use in
the historical sanctuary of Machu Picchu and adjacent
areas. Abstract of paper presented at the 6th
international conference on bear research and
management, presented by the Bear Biology Association,
The Grand Canyon Squire Inn, Arizona, February 18-22.
Plan COPESCO (1974) Machu Picchu Report
and plan. Centro de Servicios del Parque Nacional
Machu Picchu. 114 pp
DATE: August 1987, revised May 1989, September
1989 and May 1990, August 1995
Protected Areas Programme
Tel: +44 (0)1223
+44 (0)1223 277314
+44 (0)1223 277136