Machu Picchu in good hands

Puyupatamarka ruins

enlargePuyupatamarka ruins.
For all this and more, the conservation and protection of the area’s natural and cultural heritage should have been a priority for Peruvians a long time ago.

Against this backdrop, and as a result of negotiations undertaken by Peruvian authorities, the government of Finland agreed to swap 25% of Peru’s debt to Finland (some $6.15 million) for activities which benefit Peru’s most important historical sanctuary. The task -far from easy- was assigned to PROFONANPE.

The task

Once the debt swap agreement was settled in 1996, the first step was to draw up the Machu Picchu Program the following year, with the aim of honing the conservation of Peru’s exceptionally rich and diverse nature, and protecting its extraordinary archaeological ruins.

The program includes five points which all together will clear the way for the long-term conservation of the natural and cultural riches of the sanctuary: *Strengthen management and administration at the sanctuary; *Research into the natural history of the area; *Development of a Master Plan and planning for the network of Inca Trails; *Conservation work with the local population living in the sanctuary, raising their living standards; *Work done in the urban area to reduce the negative impact of population growth in the town of Machu Picchu, also known as Aguas Calientes.

Until early 2000, this final point was being developed by the National Fund for Compensation and Social Development (Foncodes). This has probably been the toughest point on the agenda, due to the fact the town has been constantly growing (today, there are more than 1,600 permanent residents and a floating population of some 1,500), and the obvious impact that this growth is having on the environment in the sanctuary.


enlargeGully filled with Polylepis forest on the Inca Trail.

At the same time, and after an exhaustive participatory process, in October 1998 the country’s authorities approved the Master Plan for the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, establishing it as the leading planning document which controls activities at Machu Picchu.

During the implementation process of the document, the Peruvian government created the Machu Picchu Management Unit, which involved as stakeholders those involved in solving the problems of the sanctuary: the National Culture Institute (INC), and the National Institute of Natural Resources (Inrena).

The Machu Picchu Management Unit and the District Town Hall of Machu Picchu, the main institutions to receive technical and financial backing, have agreed on a working plan to manage the development of the program.

Order and urban planning

The creation of an Urban Planning Program, drawn up by Peruvian architect Augusto Ortiz de Zevallos and his team, helped to identify priority correctional activities to shift tendencies, order public spaces and create discipline amidst the current image of chaos, as well as improving the urban environment.

hiking trail

enlargePorters along the Inca Trail headed for Huayllabamba

The plan proposes building walkways along the river, which will both protect the population from flooding and provide a pleasant place for strolls through the town. It will also overcome the current chaos of the corridor of street vendors whose rickety stalls are roofed with sheets of blue plastic, because of the distance between the train and the buses. The idea is to establish a single spot for transactions in an attractive arts and crafts market, plus a tourist information center.

It also includes changes in the urban scenery (signposts, colors, materials) to try and harmoniously blend the town in with the landscape, cleaning up the town’s exaggerated commercial appearance.

The result could be a pretty town which would complement services for the citadel and the Inca Trails, and capitalize on the attractions of the climate and landscape. This would invite tourists to take advantage of the visit to make their tour a more pleasant one, as the experience is currently one of haste and discomfort. The idea is to ensure that the country’s crown jewel continues to attract visitors from all over the world.