Machu Picchu Geography
Probably one of the main reasons why Machu Picchu is such an amazing place is its location. Looking at the map of Machu Picchu, you can see that it is located directly on a mountain ridge between two other mountains. Both sides of the mountain have sheer drops and end in the Vilcanote river (at some points also called the Urubamba River). Machu Picchu means old mountain in the Quechua language and is located on the Vilcanota mountain range, part of the Andes mountain range. The Machu Picchu Geography provides a shelter to a variety of flora and fauna. Plants like alisos, puya palm trees, and ferns are found in addition to more than 90 kinds of orchids. Animal life includes spectacled bear (the only native bear in South America), cock-of-the-rocks or "tunqui", tankas, wildcats and colorful variety of butterflies and insects. The site is part of a national park and the national park is famous for its large number of birds, especially the hummingbird population is quite impressive.
The site itself is located at approximately 2500 meters above sea level. The ancient city lies about 80 kilometers from Cusco. The ancient city is situated in a saddle between two mountains important to Inca culture. While the other mountain was already named Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, which means Young Mountain, is the other peak that nestles the ancient monument. Machu Picchu geography does nevertheless provide us with evidence that it was a very important site for the Inca’s.
The Machu Picchu geography made it that it had a reliable water supply thanks to the ice fed rivers that flow along the Andes and enough level land for agriculture. Terraced hillsides added to the total amount of arable land and at same time made the slopes harder to ascend if ever invaders chose that path. Machu Picchu was a veritable fortress with easily defensible entrances. One entrance was the Sun Gate which traverses the mountains and leads to Cusco, the other was the Inca bridge.