The Seven Wonders of the World: Tourism Destroying Machu Picchu

Photo taken by: Walter Diaz

Imagine yourself climbing on ancient step stones: seeing breathtaking views of the jungle, villages, Inca ruins, river, and witnessing where Incas practiced their rituals or ceremonies (like the Capac Raymi) which were celebrated at the beginning of the rainy season. This festival was an important time for the Incans since they celebrated the “start” of fourteen-year-old boys into manhood. By visiting Machu Picchu you can experience the Inca’s history.

You believe by touring these cultural heritage sites you are appreciating the Inca’s history, but what if I told you otherwise? Tourism is exterminating valuable historical cultural sites, and Machu Picchu is one of many that are being affected across the Americas.

UNESCO explains, “During this time Machu Picchu demonstrated a unique testimony of the Inca Civilization and it shows a well-planned distribution of functions within space, territory control, and social, productive, religious and administrative organization.

It is important we take care of this land that was used as a royal estate for Inca emperors and nobles. Here archaeologists learned how advanced and brilliant the Incans were in architectural, agricultural and engineering. Today remains at Machu Picchu like houses, stores, and stone walls still stand. As mentioned by New York Times it is believed that Incans to honor the spirits that take form as mountains, the Incan stone workers carved rock outcroppings to replicate their shapes.

Machupicchu trek expressed, “The number of visitors to Machu Picchu each year has grown from the low 100,00s in the 1980s, to a peak of nearly 1.2 million tourists in 2013 — a 700% increase!”

With great amounts of people visiting Machu Picchu all over the world, one can expect for it to come with crucial problems.

The overall risks are aggravated by the location; the elevation is around 8,000 feet above sea level. This means it can be affected by earthquake, landslide, and pollution, which can be increased by the amount of people who tour around Machu Picchu. The maintenance requires to keep it a safe area for tourists to come and visit can be immensely expensive. UNESCO recently said, “tourism is one of the factors affecting the preservation of the Inca citadel, adding it to a laundry list of previous concerns such the impact of bus traffic on landslides and delays in planning for the main entry-point to the site.”

There needs to be a limit on the visitors who visit per year before it is too late. Machu Picchu was the home one of the largest empires. If Machu Picchu were to become destroyed then we would be losing the art, stone carving, textiles, and much more. Without the finding of this site we would not know about the hydraulics, astronomy, architecture and military strategy they developed in their empire. Limiting visitors will give more time for reconstructing the area and coming up with new ideas to transports tourists more effectively since the Incans did not build their empire for buses to be driven on. In fact, no wheels were used to transport heavy rocks for the construction of the city. In the future, this can prevent natural disasters like landslides or floods.

However with the advancement technology now it is possible for us to visit Machu Picchu from home. According to The Guardian, “ The Inca site is the latest, and one of the most ambitious, world attractions to be mapped by Google Street View. On an exclusive trip, Will Coldwell joined a team as they captured Machu Picchu on camera for the armchair traveler”. The Street View allows an understanding of the topography through a 3-D experience plus it’s cheaper, safer, and less tiring.

The value of Machu Picchu is priceless, and it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World for a reason. Next time you are thinking about visiting Machu Picchu you should think about whether your visit is causing more harm than good.

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