Protected Natural Areas Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary

The Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary (SMH) is Peru’s most visited natural protected area. Declared a Natural and Cultural Heritage to Humanity, the sanctuary protects archaeological complexes, as well as ecosystems with a wide diversity of wild flora and fauna, some of which is considered to be endangered.

The SHM is located in Machu Picchu district, Urubamba province, Cusco department. It stretches over an area of 32,592 hectares (80,537 acres), with impressive Inca archaeological complexes, sites and monuments with a high historical and cultural value.

The main attraction is the universal jewel: Machu Picchu, connected with various archaeological sites through the Qhapaq Ñan network (known as the Inca Trail). There are six routes (four are long and two are short) currently available for hiking the Inca Trail, one of the most sought-after trekking experiences in South America.

The SHM boasts exceptional geographical features, with micro-climates that are a source of great biological diversity, spread between the Andes and mountain ranges adjacent to the jungle. It runs from snowy peaks at heights of 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) above sea level to the wetter and warm area of the Urubamba River (which divides the sanctuary in two by forming the Torontoy canyon) under 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level.

Visiting the Sanctuary is a voyage of discovery of the Inca civilization across the Andes and the Amazon. Visitors can discover the home of various species of wild fauna, including the spectacled bear, the Andean fox, viscachas, the cock-of-the-rock and the Andean condor, among others. Tourists can also make contact with flora, including the remarkable orchids with a total of 309 recorded species and an as many as 200 more yet to be discovered.

In addition to the exceptional natural riches, there is the Machu Picchu archaeological complex, declared a Mixed World Heritage (natural and cultural) by UNESCO in 1983. Machu Picchu is one of the new 7 Wonders of the Modern World.

General Information

Activities: Hikes, trekking, flora and fauna observation, bird watching, orchid spotting, butterfly watching, hot springs, visits to archaeological sites.

Climate: Dry and cold in the high Andean region and pleasant and wet in the jungle region. The temperature fluctuates between 12 and 24 °C (54° and 75° F) in the Machu Picchu citadel area. The rainy season is from October to March, although fog and scattered showers can occur at any time of the year.

Access by Land: From Machu Picchu Town to the Machu Picchu citadel. Time: 25 minutes. Walking: distance 7 km.

Access by Train: From Cusco to Machu Picchu Town. Time: 4 hours from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu village. Time: 2 hours.

Important: Entrance tickets can be bought through travel agencies or over the internet.

  • To hike the Inca Trail, it is required to hire a travel agency or authorized guides.
  • Tourists must use rubber-soled footwear when visiting the archaeological sites.
  • Trekking canes must have a rubber end.


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