four hundred years, it took a week on foot to reach Machu
Picchu, the "Lost Citadel of the Incas." And for close to
a century, it has taken travelers more than four hours by
train. But late in May 2006, helicopter service was inaugurated
from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, speeding travelers to the site
in a brief 30 minutes. A SA316B Alouette III helicopter (OB-1817-P,
undertakes the flights to Machu Picchu. One-day "Heliexplorer"
excursions are available, "but most travelers are opting
for the 2- and 3-night schedules," says Ignacio Masias,
Director of Sales and Marketing of Inkaterra, the Peruvian
Eco-Tourism company that is offering the flights exclusively.
The overnight trips include the opportunity to stay at the
company's eco-friendly Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. The hotel,
in the Machu Picchu Cloud Forest, is a complex of 85 luxurious
rooms in whitewashed cottages that resemble an Andean village.
Side trips are also available to the recently uncovered Incan
site of Choquequirao. Similar in purpose and grandeur to Machu
Picchu, Choquequirao lies 30 miles southwest of Machu Picchu,
and was only intermittently visited until recent times. Some
40% of this Inca ceremonial center has so far been cleared
of vegetation, but once uncovered archeologists predict it
will be similar in size to Machu Picchu, if not larger.
pictures by INKATERRA.
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