Up to 2,000 people visit the Machu Picchu citadel every day, with
visitor numbers growing at 6 percent a year. The site is being slowly eroded by
Machu Picchu is located among steep slopes that are constantly
being eroded by heavy rains and landslides are common. Although the recovery of
the original terraces, many of which are still buried under the vegetation,
helps to stabilise the slopes and ensure conservation, it is a costly
Timber has been cut along the Inca trail for fuel for cooking and
forest fires in the vicinity have threatened Machu Picchu on several occasions.
Until now, the influx of visitors has been kept under control to
the extent that the only way of reaching the site was by railway. But plans to
build a road from Cuzco and a cable car running from the valley to the top of
Machu Picchu could lead to irreparable harm being done.
The number of people hiking along the Inca Trail rose from 6,000 in
1984 to 82,000 in 2000. The trail is being eroded and tea bags and water bottles
litter the route, where campsites are scarce.
Unorganized urban growth in the area with human waste pumped direct
into the Urubamba river. Aguas Calientes has mushroomed in size as more hotels
and restaurants have been built to accommodate the needs of tourists, and the
burden is evident in the heaps of garbage piled along the banks of the Urubamba
Helicopters have been allowed to fly in tourists and operate
low-flying tours, thereby disturbing not only the peaceful quality of the ruins,
but potentially damaging them. Peru's Institute of Natural Resources said those
flights led to the disappearance of a rare species of orchid and the Andean
Condor from the area.