Tuesday, May 21, 2019


The development of a multi billion-dollar airport that will fly tourists directly to Machu Picchu has sparked outrage among historians, archaeologists and local people. Bulldozers have already begun clearing land for the airport in Chinchero, a well-preserved Inca city about 3,800 meters above sea level that is the gateway to the Sacred Valley in Peru.

The valley provided maize and other crops to Incan rulers, and several emperors built their private estates there. Incan terraces still cover the hillsides around Chinchero and are used by local farmers.

Those protesting against the airport fear it will cause structural damage to ancient ruins and environmental degradation across a large swathe of the Sacred Valley, not just the famed citadel of Machu Picchu itself.

“The airport planned to be built in Chinchero, Cusco, endangers the conservation of one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the world,” wrote Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at Cambridge University who organised a petition against the development. She added that the airport “will affect the integrity of a complex Inca landscape and will cause irreparable damage due to noise, traffic and uncontrolled urbanization”.

Nearly 6,000 people have signed the petition, which calls on Martin Vizcarra, the president of Peru, to reconsider the project.

Currently, most visitors to Machu Picchu arrive at Cusco airport, 50 miles southeast of the ruins, and then either catch a train or bus or embark on the four-day Inca Trail to reach the site. The airport has only one runway and is limited to handling stopover flights from Peru’s capital, Lima, and nearby cities such as La Paz, Bolivia. But the new airport in Chinchero will be open to larger planes on international routes across Latin America and the US. The project was first announced in 2012 by Peru’s former president Ollanta Humala and the government plans to complete the airport by 2023.

But critics say the airport will bring noise and air pollution to the area and put a strain on limited water sources in the region. Justin Francis, chief executive of sustainable travel company Responsible Travel, told The Telegraph that he was worried about the impact the new airport and potential increase in visitor numbers would have on Machu Picchu.


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