Machu Picchu threats
Although much of Machu Picchu is intact, the surrounding environment, especially the tourist jump-off point of Aguas Calientes is increasing the risk of landslide and erosion along the rivers that flow below the mountains.
Erosion and landslides could threaten the only passable road that leads up to Machu Picchu. Aquas Calientes is bursting with development but little has been done to address the plumbing required to provide adequate water and sanitation. There is very little capability to detect fires and control its occurrence especially on the heavily forested parts of the park.
The locals are already starting to take matters into their own hands. In Cusco which used to be the ancient Inca capital, residents protesting expanding development burned tires and blocked roads.
Uncontrolled tourism in the long run could lead to the undoing of Machu Picchu. A leading Peruvian archaeologist, Luis Lumbreras who for 40 years has been studying the ruins, remarked that the ancient city was designed for people walking on sandals and bare feet.
Thousands of visitors on boots every day is dangerous to the state of the ruins and should be addressed. Still, Machu Picchu is in a remarkable state of preservation and such was the statement of UNESCO when it praised park management last year.