Orchid Watching: Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary

Considered as one of most important archaeological jewels in the world, the Inca city of Machu Picchu is surrounded by a thick jungle containing a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Rhere is an ongoing project in the area dedicated to researching and conserving the orchids that are native to Machu Picchu, preserving genetic material and repopulating areas affected by fires and other natural disasters within the Historic Sanctuary. So far, 9 new species have been reported, including the Oncidium koechliniana Collantes & Gerlach sp, as well as 75 newly recorded species for the area.

There are several trails to appreciate the orchids in the Sanctuary. The main ones are:

The Orchid Inca Trail, from km 88 in Qoriwayrachina to km 95, following the Vilcanota River downstream on its left bank. This is considered to be one of the richest trails in terms of orchids, but has the additional benefit of supreme views of the Vilcanota River with its rapids and oases; along the river banks there are paradisiacal trees wrapped in tendrils, luscious orchids and archaeological sites.

Up to 30 types of orchid can be seen here, including the Masdevallia veitchiana, the Symbolic Orchid of the Historic Sanctuary. The trail leads towards Machu Picchu, avoiding the high part of the Inca Trail. The hike to the Wonder of the World lasts for 3 days.

On the traditional Inca Trail, tourists walk through several ecological floors, from the high grasslands to the high jungle, passing through various archaeological monuments. In the Wayllabamba area, tourists can admire a series of orchids, which is not as varied as the Inca Trail but also holds singular beauty. Tourists can see the Odontoglossum sp, Masdevallia veitchiana, Platystele oxyglosa y Epidendrum sp., and others. In Wyñaywayna, tourists can appreciate the Epidendrum, Prosthechea and Tepogos. The hike to Machu Picchu lasts for 4-5 days.

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