Peru is a country full of wonders, from its vibrant culture to its stunning natural landscapes. One of the most famous destinations in Peru is Machu Picchu, a breathtaking Incan citadel located high in the Andes Mountains. While many visitors come to Machu Picchu to explore the ruins and learn about the history of the Incan civilization, there is also an abundance of wildlife to discover in the surrounding area. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the amazing animals you can see on a trip to Machu Picchu.
Cusco, the Gateway to Machu Picchu
Before we dive into the wildlife of Machu Picchu, let’s take a quick look at the city of Cusco. Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu and is a fascinating destination in its own right. The city was the capital of the Incan Empire and features an array of stunning architecture, including the famous Temple of the Sun. The city is also home to a variety of museums and cultural sites, making it the perfect place to start your Machu Picchu adventure.
Machu Picchu Animals: Llamas and Alpacas
One of the most iconic animals you will encounter on a trip to Machu Picchu is the llama. These adorable animals are native to the Andes Mountains and have been used by locals for centuries as pack animals. Llamas are easily recognizable by their long necks and woolly coats, and they are often seen grazing in the fields around Machu Picchu.
Alpacas are another type of domesticated camelid that you may encounter on your trip to Machu Picchu. While they are similar in appearance to llamas, alpacas have shorter necks and are typically smaller in size. They are known for their incredibly soft wool, which is used to make a variety of textiles.
Machu Picchu Animals: Andean Condors
If you’re looking for a truly awe-inspiring wildlife experience, be sure to keep an eye out for Andean condors during your visit to Machu Picchu. These magnificent birds are one of the largest flying birds in the world, with a wingspan of up to 10 feet. They are also one of the rarest birds in the world, with only an estimated 6,700 left in the wild.
Andean condors are often seen soaring high above the Andes Mountains, using their incredible wingspan to stay aloft for hours at a time. While they are not commonly seen on the grounds of Machu Picchu itself, visitors can take a short trip to nearby Colca Canyon to see these incredible birds up close.
Machu Picchu Animals: Spectacled Bears
Another amazing animal that can be found in the area surrounding Machu Picchu is the spectacled bear. These bears are native to the Andes Mountains and are known for their distinctive markings around their eyes that resemble spectacles. They are also the only species of bear that can be found in South America.
Spectacled bears are typically shy and elusive, but visitors to Machu Picchu can still catch a glimpse of them if they’re lucky. The best way to see these bears is by taking a trip to the nearby Cloud Forest, where they can often be seen foraging for food.
Machu Picchu Animals: Viscachas
Viscachas are a type of rodent that can be found in the Andes Mountains and are often mistaken for rabbits due to their long ears and fluffy tails. While they may look cute and cuddly, viscachas are actually quite skilled climbers and can often be seen perched on rocks and boulders.
These animals are herbivores and primarily feed on grasses and other vegetation found in the mountains. Visitors to Machu Picchu can often spot viscachas darting between rocks and boulders, and they are a unique and fascinating animal to observe.
Machu Picchu Animals: Chinchillas
Another type of rodent that can be found in the Andes Mountains is the chinchilla. These small, furry animals are known for their incredibly soft fur, which is highly prized in the fashion industry. In the wild, chinchillas can be found in rocky outcroppings and crevices, where they are able to evade predators and stay hidden from view.
While it is unlikely that visitors to Machu Picchu will encounter wild chinchillas, they can still learn about these fascinating animals at the nearby Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. The lodge has a small chinchilla sanctuary where visitors can see these adorable animals up close and learn about their behavior and habitat.
Machu Picchu Animals: Wild Cats
There are several species of wild cats that can be found in the Andes Mountains, including the puma and the Andean mountain cat. These cats are elusive and rarely seen by visitors to Machu Picchu, but they are still an important part of the local ecosystem.
The Andean mountain cat, in particular, is one of the rarest wild cats in the world, with only an estimated 2,500 individuals left in the wild. These cats are smaller than the more well-known puma, and they have a distinctive reddish-brown coat with white markings on their face.
Machu Picchu Animals: River Otters
Finally, we come to the river otters. These playful and energetic animals can be found in the rivers and streams around Machu Picchu and are a joy to watch. River otters are known for their sleek, streamlined bodies and their ability to swim and dive with incredible agility.
Visitors to Machu Picchu can often spot river otters playing and frolicking in the streams and rivers that run through the mountains. They are a fun and fascinating animal to observe, and they provide an important role in the local ecosystem by keeping the rivers and streams healthy and clean.
Machu Picchu is not only a place of historical significance and natural beauty, but it is also home to a diverse array of wildlife. From domesticated llamas and alpacas to rare and elusive species like the Andean condor and the spectacled bear, there is something for everyone to discover in this incredible part of the world.
While it is important to remember to respect the wildlife and their habitat, taking the time to observe and appreciate these amazing animals can be a truly unforgettable experience. So, whether you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu or simply interested in learning more about the wildlife of Peru, be sure to keep an eye out for these incredible creatures and enjoy all the wonders that this beautiful country has to offer.