Peru planning 'second Machu Picchu' in Chachapoya
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Peru planning 'second Machu Picchu' in Chachapoya

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Peruvian officials are planning to create a historical site to rival that of Machu Picchu, in the form of one of its best kept secrets – the Chachapoya ruins of the northern “cloud people”.

While Machu Picchu has been on the tourist map for virtually every visitor to Peru, Chachapoya is largely unexplored by most foreigners, save some adventurous backpackers. But the government plans to change that and ease traffic off its crown jewel of Machu Picchu – which has been at risk from increased footfall – and increase traffic to the northern Amazonas region of the country.

In the government plan, a cultural heritage site known as Kuelap will act as the centrepiece of a “second Machu Picchu”, with use of surrounding sites including Sipan, Chan Chan, Leymebamba, and Gran Pajaten, which all date back to the 9th century.

Such sites remain largely unexplored due to inaccessibility and lack of general awareness, but in the government’s plan a cable car system will be built to allow easy public access to the area, which sits on the top of a mountain ridge in a “cloud forest”.

“Kuelap could be a second Machu Picchu, easily,” said Peru’s President Ollanta Humala. “With Kuelap, we can create a tourist circuit that will be as competitive as the south.”

Set to open in 2016, the US$18m (US$15.2m, €12m) cable car system will have the capacity to transport 1,000 passengers per hour.

Telecabinas Kuelap SA – a consortium formed by the French firm Pomagalski SAS and Lima-based Ingenieros Civiles y Contratistas Generales SA – will work on the development of the site, including the installation of the cable car system.

Tourism is an increasingly important part of Peru’s economy, with many foreign visitors attracted to the country’s rich archaeological remains and immense biodiversity.

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Peruvian officials are planning to create a historical site to rival that of Machu Picchu, in the form of one of its best kept secrets – the Chachapoya ruins of the northern “cloud people”.
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