Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain” in a local language, is located at an amazing 2,400 meters above sea level. This city was inhabited by the Incas till about 5 centuries ago. But it was in July 6, 1911 that a young and enthusiast Yale professor by the name of Hiram Bingham lead a scientific expedition to this site and Machu Picchu came to the center of the world’s attention for the first time.
Although it was in the earlier 20th century that work began to be published on this ancient site (first in the National Geographic Journal by Bingham), locals have known of the region for centuries. Now it has become a leading destination for Peru tours. In fact, a whole industry has emerged that deals in Peru travel packages because of the popularity of Machu Picchu.
Why did this old town remain obscure from the rest of the world?
Location has a lot to do with the secrecy of Machu Picchu. Those who take Peru tours know that Machu Picchu is “hidden” by the mighty Andean mountains and Amazon rainforests. Till date, no one knows for sure what role Machu Picchu played in the region’s civilization. According to Luis Lumbreras, former head of the National Institute of Culture, “Machu Picchu is like the pyramids of Egypt.”
Opinions are divided whether it was the fortress of the Inca warriors or a center of religious activity. In fact, the Inca Trail is built in such a way that it represents difficulties and hardships. Until the traveler finally reaches the soothing atmosphere of Machu Picchu.
With time, the popularity of this region increased so much that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, it was voted among the New Seven Wonders of the World on an internet poll.
But this also means that Machu Picchu is also under the close supervision of UNESCO and the local government. That is why there is a limit on the number of people who can take Peru tours to visit the Ica Trail that leads to Machu Picchu at one time. Previously the number was 1,800 per day, but now it has come down to 500, and that includes local tourist guides and porters.
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