• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

Tourists trample ancient Peruvian wonder

July 5th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Satenik Sargsyan

MACHU PICCHU, Peru—Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas high in the Peruvian Andes, has been re-conquered. This time, by tourists.

Nervously chewing coca sweets on the bus to prepare for the altitude, and trying to hide the childish excitement pouring out of me, I was ready for a solemn temple-like atmosphere, fascination and admiration for the will and power of the ancient Incan civilization and their ability to create and preserve. Instead, I found large numbers of tourists in shorts and tennis shoes scurrying all over the sacred site, trying to take pictures with lamas.

What was once selflessly given up with sorrow to preserve the Incan culture from invaders is now displayed as a huge piece of art just like the mummy inside a cotton vest at Larco Museum in Lima. People come every day, look at it, take pictures and leave. While tourism is a significant part of Peru’s GDP, disturbing the peace of a great civilization just didn’t seem appropriate or respectful.

Our Peruvian tour guide shook his head with a tad of sorrow in response to my question about the number of tourists who visit Machu Picchu. Once a city of 700 people, the Old Mountain (Quechua for Machu Picchu) now hosts about 4,000 tourists a day, Arthuro Ramirez said.

The powerful Incan architecture, once considered invulnerable to natural hazards, is giving in to the number of curious tourists. Huge granite blocks, placed on each other without clay or mud, the distinguishing mark of Inca architecture, slowly move apart under the weight of tourist sneakers.

And while our tour guide was talking about harmful effects of inconsiderate visitor behavior, tour group members were vigorously taking pictures while hanging off cliffs and leaning on stones that did not have a magic line around them to keep the tourists away.

“Most museums are closed down at least once a month for maintenance,” Ramirez said. “Machu Picchu is treated like a museum by the [Peruvian] government, but it never closes.

“We have visitors every day, and a small place like this can’t handle that many people,” he said. “They will have to make the regulations stricter.”

Satenik Sargsyan is a USU JCOM major taking part in a summer study tour of South American businesses as part of a Huntsman School of Business program.


Tags: , ,

  1. One Response to “Tourists trample ancient Peruvian wonder”

  2. By Xavier Miller on Jul 15, 2010

    I can imagine how the peruvian government must feel

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.