Cuzco, Peru- June 9, 2006:- For four hundred years, it took a week on foot to reach Machu Picchu, the "Lost Citadel of the Incas." And for close to a century, it has taken travelers more than four hours by train. But late in May, helicopter service was inaugurated from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, speeding travelers to the site in a brief 30 minutes.
"Machu Picchu is now eight hours closer to the United States," says Ignacio Masias, Director of Sales and Marketing of Inkaterra, the Peruvian Eco-Tourism company that is offering the flights exclusively. Five-passenger, French-built Allouette helicopters undertake the flights to Machu Picchu. The craft are "low-noise" and produce less pollution than trains, says Masias.
One-day "Heliexplorer" excursions are available, "but most travelers are opting for the 2- and 3-night schedules," says Masias. The overnight trips include the opportunity to stay at the company's eco-friendly Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. The hotel, in the Machu Picchu Cloud Forest, is a complex of 85 luxurious rooms in whitewashed cottages that resemble an Andean village. It is noted for its authentic cuisine, its unique Andean Sauna and its collection of orchids "“ the world's largest in their natural habitat.
Side trips are also available to the recently uncovered Incan site of Choquequirao. Similar in purpose and grandeur to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao lies 30 miles southwest of Machu Picchu, and was only intermittently visited until recent times. Some 40% of this Inca ceremonial center has so far been cleared of vegetation, but once uncovered archeologists predict it will be similar in size to Machu Picchu, if not larger.
For details of helicopter services to Machu Picchu, visit www.inkaterra.com and click on "Inkaterra Heliexplorer."