The Caretakers of Machu Picchu

The Caretakers of Machu Picchu

Anthropologist Fernando Astete and his staff often receive well-deserved accolades for their work running the day-to-day operations of Machu Picchu, as well as overseeing the protection and preservation of the Inca citadel.

Fernando Astete, director of the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park, is also an accomplished archaeologist.

Fernando Astete, director of the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park

But readers of El Comercio on Friday got to see just how seriously eight mountaineering members of Astete’s crew take their jobs. They put their lives on the line — literally — to prevent vegetation from growing in-between the sheer retaining walls.

Caretakers of Machu Picchu: Roberto Ccahua hangs, suspended, against the sheer eastern wall of Machu Picchu. He is pulling away vegetation to reveal the white granite stone face of the Inca citadel. Beneath him is a chasm that gives way thousands of feet below to the Vilcanota River. Photo: El Comercio

Roberto Ccahua hangs, suspended, against the sheer eastern wall of Machu Picchu. He is pulling away vegetation to reveal the white granite stone face of the Inca citadel. Beneath him is a chasm that gives way thousands of feet below to the Vilcanota River. Photo: El Comercio

Machu Picchu is under constant pressure from the encroaching jungle, which if left unabated, would deteriorate the masterful stonework, much of which has been restored since the 1970s.

Astete’s park staff have also been working the past three years, clearing the Andenes Orientales (Eastern Terraces) of Machu Picchu. Last  October, El Comercio ran a story about that project, which also includes the clearing and restoration of the Inca site of Inkaraqay. That site is located on the virtually inaccessible and nearly vertical side of the Huayna Picchu, the peak that looms over Machu Picchu.

Inkaraqay

Inkaraqay, an Inca complex located on the virtually inaccessible and nearly vertical side of the Huayna Picchu mountain peak, which looms over Machu Picchu. Photo: El Comercio / Roxabel Ramón

The plan is to eventually integrate both Inkaraqay and the Andenes Orientales into the Machu Picchu Archaelogical Park and make them accessible to visitors.

These new areas being opened on the lower flank of Machu Picchu, under Huayna Picchu, demonstrate what archaeologist and historians long suspected.

“Machu Picchu was much larger than what we can see today,” archaeologist Guillermo Cock told Peruvian Travel Trends. “Those areas are being cleaned and people are going to have access there.”

To hear a podcast of the full interview with Guillermo Cock, talking about the new areas opening up at Machu Picchu and the upcoming 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s “discovery” of the citadel in 1911, visit us on our Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/PeruVacations

 

 

 

Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back.

While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur’s founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007.

Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Jane bratcher at 3:26 pm

    I am Jane….I study About the Fallen Angels and the Giants. I’m watching you on Unearthed…..why want you tell people the Giants really built these cities. The knowledge of building these stone buildings had to come from the Fallen Angels. I would like to hear from you on this.
    Thank you
    Jane Bratcher

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