Why I Hate Machu Picchu
By: Mike Jerrard
It has been hailed as one of those “trips of a lifetime” but unfortunately for me I would have to suffer through it twice in my life. Making its place onto lists such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Wonders of the World, there is no challenging that Machu Picchu is an incredible piece of Inca civilization. Sadly the Inca site Hiram Bingham brought to the world’s attention has been transformed into a theme park attraction.
The backdrop of Machu Picchu has become something like a “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign where tourists continue to take the monotonous iconic selfie in front of the long lost city which is now heavily dotted with the brightly colored clothing of tourists much like the lights on a Christmas tree. The whole Machu Picchu experience has sadly become no more authentic then shaking hands with Elvis in Sin City.
From overpriced mass produced”authentic” Peruvian souvenirs made in China to locals demanding monetary compensation from you if you so much even look like you might snap a photo of them, one would be hard pressed to find any culture around this overly crowded tourist spot. Those who run the businesses below the ruins in Aguas Calientes have become quite rude although understandably when you see in person what they have to deal with from tourists on a daily basis.
And then there are the waiting lines, lines that will leave you more depressed than lines of cocaine. Ticket purchase lines, bus lines, entry gate lines, an so on. By the time you actually manage to make it to the ruins, your patience and sanity will be left in ruins themselves. As for the site itself, Machu Picchu is an incredible piece of architecture and the surrounding views along with a hike up Huayna Picchu does produce some stunning scenery. If only these views weren’t constantly being interrupted by passing tourists, crying children who didn’t get the stuffed alpaca toy they wanted, or politely pausing for people who seem to use everything but an actual camera to take pictures of a place they traveled so far to see.
Then it’s back to the city of Aguas Calientes, a city which has become filthy with smells I wish to never know the origins of. Massive bags of trash pile up around the city, severely overburdened by the demands of western civilization. Stray dogs of every shape in size seem to breed like rabbits here which one hopes isn’t being served in restaurants being passed of as alpaca or cuy meat.
Make no mistake, Peru and its Andes are an incredible place and I have no doubt there are hidden pockets that will produce life changing experiences. The famous Inca trail that many hike as they make their pilgrimage towards Machu Picchu offers a much more authentic experience. It is just disappointing that instead of reaching Inca treasure a the end of the journey, they are instead left with fool’s good.
Machu Picchu is by far not the only world site that has been ruined by tourism and it will certainly not be the last. It is inevitable as our population continues to rise and worlds merge via the internet and modernization that culture and mystery will forever be lost. It is a blessing that in today’s day all of earth’s incredible places are becoming so accessible and a curse that they will therefore inevitably be set on course of destruction.
They say that “third times the charm” but as far as Machu Picchu goes, I think I will just count my losses and keep my visits to two.