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The Incredible Biodiversity of Machu Picchu

The Inca city of Machu Picchu is located in a very special geographical area since it is part of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu declared a National Park in 1981 by the Peruvian Government due to the large number of species of animals, plants and complete ecosystems. who owns this place.

Inca buildings are characterized by adapting and becoming part of the natural environment that surrounds them and is probably one of the reasons why the Inca civilization has chosen the location of the citadel of Machu Picchu in such a peculiar area. The area around this ancient city is also a Natural Historic Sanctuary, where you can find immense mountains such as the snowy Salkantay with more than 6,000 meters of altitude and temperatures below zero, as well as thick subtropical jungles where temperatures can exceed 30 degrees Celsius, accompanied by abundant rains and high humidity.

The flora and fauna of Machu Picchu is no less incredible because in this Historic Sanctuary you can find innumerable species of animals and plants, which we will detail later.


The citadel of Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, but it was not until the early 1970s that the number of visitors began to increase, and with this, the first signs of deterioration began to be appreciated, due to mainly to human activity. It is for this reason that on January 8, 1981, the Government of Peru, through Supreme Decree No. 001-81-AG, announced the creation of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

The Machu Picchu conservation area was declared in 2012 as the best Green Destination by the WTA (Word travel awards), in recognition of its biodiversity and its ancient cultural heritage.


The natural conservation area of ​​Machu Picchu or Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is located between the Cusichaka and Aobamba rivers to the north and south respectively, which are part of the network of small rivers and streams that feed the powerful Urubamba river, with the Urubamba on the east side and the Cordillera de Vilcabamba on the west side. Seen from the perspective of a flying bird, it resembles an open book.


The Andes Mountain Range crosses the western part of the Peruvian territory and in it three mountain ranges can be distinguished: the western Cordillera that is closest to the coastline, the eastern cordillera that would become the limit between the jungle and the mountains and the central mountain range, which as its name suggests is located between them.

The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is located in the eastern mountain range and among its highest points is the imposing snow-capped Salkantay (6,271 masl) and the Nevado Veronica (5,682 masl), these areas are characteristically cold and with the presence of snow and temperatures below zero Most of the year, it is from here that the icy water coming from the summits descends abruptly towards the jungle areas located in lower lands creating up to 13 altitudinal floors.

Each of these floors or ecosystems has its own characteristics of temperature, humidity and soil, which gives rise to different species of plants and animals, making this Sanctuary a place of incredible biodiversity, concentrated on a surface of only 32, 592 hectares.

Flora of the historical santuary of Machu Picchu

Among the native tree species, the Q´euña (Polylepis Australis), the cedar (Cedrus), alder (Alnus Glutinosay), pisonay (Erythrina edulis), among others stand out.

As for orchids, the Historical Sanctuary has around 400 registered species, many of which have been recently discovered and classified by science, as is the case of publication No. 15 of the specialized scientific magazine Icones Orchidacearum that released to the world community the existence of 38 new registrations in 2015.

The smallest orchids are only a few millimeters in size and should be appreciated with a magnifying glass, as is the case with the Stenostachya Platystele variety, while the largest ones, such as Sobralia dichotoma, can have branches that reach 4 meters in height, with multiple bouquets of flowers. The orchid fertilization process basically depends on the birds, butterflies and insects and the wind, which transport pollen from one region to another. These flowers, when fertile, open their petals, spreading aromatic fragrances that invite pollinating agents to land on them. The time it takes for an orchid to reach adulthood or fertility varies but usually takes 5 to 6 years.