The Inca Trail is famous for the qhapac ñan, the Inca archaeological sites, the beautiful incredible landscapes, and of course, Machu Picchu. Also, few visitors know that this hiking trail is a great opportunity to observe butterflies. It is estimated that in this Andean and tropical geography there are more than 700 registered species of butterflies. Learn more about this experience full of wings and colors.
The mysterious world of butterflies was present in the time of the Incas. These magical insects were present in his ideology since they were related to the “Hanan Pacha”, that is to say, the world above where the tutelary gods lived (the sun, the moon, the stars). Butterflies were related to the soul and longevity. A sample of this are some ceremonial plates, found in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Butterflies were related to the soul and longevity. A sample of this are some ceremonial plates, found in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.
Butterflies on the Inca Trail
In the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, more than 700 species of butterflies have been registered (300 diurnal and 400 nocturnal). Many of these species are endemic and others migratory.
Along the Inca Trail they can be seen through their fragile flights. These are very colorful: there are blue, yellow, white, red and even transparent wings.
The butterflies of Machu Picchu date back more than 100 million years, and have adapted to the environment to survive.
These butterflies are very important in Machu Picchu and along the Inca Trail as they help pollination of flowers.
Butterflies are both diurnal and nocturnal insects, they have extremely colorful wings. Their antennas allow them to pick up smells, sounds, and vibrations. Their eyes are made up of ommatidia that allow them to see at great distances. So they capture many colors. His eyes are green, blue and white.
Their long legs have joints through whose plants they capture different flavors. They are fed by their tongue, which has two tubes that function as taste sensors. These tubes wrap them around their head when they are not used.
At Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, butterflies have many predators, of which the most dangerous are birds.
However, butterflies have been able to develop a defense mechanism, through their flight, that they do so quickly that they disorient the birds, at the same time that they secrete liquid substances with an unpleasant odor.
Where to see butterflies on the Inca Trail?
During the entire visit to Machu Picchu, or when you do the Inca Trail, you can notice the presence of different varieties of butterflies.
On the third day of the walk is when you can see the greatest variety of butterflies (especially in the camps of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñayhuayna).
However, there is a place in the town of Aguas Calientes called “Mariposario”. This is an interpretation center of the butterfly biodiversity of Machu Picchu.
In this place, through a guided tour, you will be able to know the different species of butterflies that exist in the so-called Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
The butterfly farm in Machu Picchu
The Machu Picchu butterfly farm is a cultural center located on the Hiram Bingham road in the town of Aguas Calientes. It can be reached on foot or by bus, before or after the visit to the archaeological site of Machupicchu.
The visit allows to know a great diversity of butterflies. In addition, there are information panels on the site that explain its evolution, diet and development.
Visitors can interact with the butterflies. The ‘Butterfly Garden’ is an excellent option to visit with children. It is open every day from 8.30 in the morning until 5.30 in the afternoon. The entrance ticket has a cost of 10 Peruvian soles. The visit takes approximately 20 minutes.
What else to see on the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is a hiking route of 4 days and 3 nights that, unlike other routes to Machu Picchu, runs through the famous qhapac ñan (Inca trails). After 39 kilometers you reach Machu Picchu by the same route that the Incas did.
In addition to butterflies on the Inca Trail, the visitor will be able to observe Inca archaeological sites little visited by tourists. These are the archaeological sites of: Llactapata, Runkurakay, Saycamarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñaywayna.
Along the route you can see different types of flowers and trees. The orchids and their more than three hundred varieties registered in the Historic Sanctuary of Machupicchu stand out.
The route is also home to different types of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds. The most colorful are: the cock of the rocks, the spectacled bear, the Andean deer, the torrent duck and the giant hummingbird.
In addition to butterflies on the Inca Trail you will be able to appreciate various types of exotic insects such as: millipedes, crickets, beetles, bees, spiders and more. It is recommended to use repellent against mosquitoes as they can be annoying.
If you are a photography lover you can get excellent butterfly shots, especially very early in the morning.
The Inca Trail is only done on a tour organized by a tourism agency. Due to the high demand for this adventure, the purchase must be made online 6 or 7 months in advance.
By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 02-12-2021
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