Considered to be one of the most important archaeological jewels in the world, the Inca city of Machu Picchu is surrounded by an abundance of nature in a jungle brow region, with a wide variety of flora and fauna.
In the area there is a project dedicated to studying and conserving the orchids native to Machu Picchu, which maintain genetic material and repopulate areas affected by fires and/or natural disasters within the Historic Sanctuary. So far, 9 species that are new to science have been reported, including the Oncidium koechliniana Collantes & Gerlach sp, and 75 species have been recorded in the area for the first time.
There are various trails that can be followed in order to see the orchids in the Sanctuary. The main ones are:
The Orchid Inca Trail, from km 88 in Qoriwayrachina to km 95, following the left bank of the Vilcanota River downstream. This is considered to be one of the richest trails in terms of orchids, but it also has the additional benefit of excellent views of the Vilcanota River with its rapids and pools, and along the stunning river banks there are trees wrapped in tendrils, orchids and archaeological sites.
Up to 30 types of orchid can be seen here, including the Masdevallia veitchiana, the symbolic flower of the Historic Sanctuary. The trail leads towards Machu Picchu, avoiding the high part of the Inca Trail. The trek to this marvellous fortress takes 3 days.
On the traditional Inca Trail, tourists walk through several ecological zones, from the high uplands to the high jungle, passing various archaeological monuments. In the Wayllabamba area, different varieties of uniquely beautiful orchids can be seen. Tourists can see the Odontoglossum sp, Masdevallia veitchiana, Platystele oxyglosa and Epidendrum sp., among others. In Wyñaywayna, tourists can admire the Epidendrum, Prosthechea and Tepogos. The trek to Machu Picchu takes 4 to 5 days.