Machu Picchu site to be expanded, Peru says, 5 more Inca trails to open

Machu Picchu, the undisputed jewel of Incan archeology, is going to be expanded significantly – tourists will be able to see even more of the breathtaking site.

Government authorities announced this week a four-year plan that will open to the public many more structures that are part of the vast complex located in the southern province of Cusco.

The plan also includes diversifying the routes that visitors can roam within the site. At the moment, hikers are allowed on just one of the Inca roads, despite there being six known routes within the preserve.

"Only Machu Picchu and part of the network of the Inca Trail has been used [for tourism],” said José Carlos Nieto, the site’s director, to a Peruvian news outlet. “But we have evaluated the potential and will set up other archaeological sites such as 50 Gradas, Intipunku, Incaraccay, Wiñayhuayna, the mountain of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Moon,” he added.

He said the other roads had never been opened because of damage and issues with the terrain. They will be repaired, Nieto indicated, and the expanded tourism will benefit local communities.

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“What we want to do is organize the activities and diversify the supply," Nieto said, noting also that the historic preserve's 81,250 acres contain great natural beuaty and unique species of birds and flowers like orchids, which could attract different kinds of tourists.

The existence of Machu Picchu, approximately three hours by train from the mountain city of Cusco, was made public by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in the early 20th century.

Most experts agree that the citadel was the last Incan city (some say it was a royal retreat) and that it was abandoned around 1570, possibly after a smallpox epidemic brought by the Spanish conquistadors.

Machu Picchu officials have started talks with government sectors involved in the administration and conservation of the 500-year-old site.

"There is very serious work being done and if we do it in an orderly way we can get a larger number of visitors without jeopardizing the patrimony we have,” he said.

EFE contributed to this report.

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