New airport threatens ancient sites in Peru

Posted On: Oct 26th, 2019 at 23:11


In March 2005 I visited Chinchero, part of the Sacred Valley, which has some of the most astonishing views on earth. I had travelled on land for about a week from Puno, as I was on my way to Machu Picchu via Cuzco after crossing the border into Bolivia to renew my visa.
This area and this land are so unique and mesmerising it’s like a different world entirely, and its name – Sacred Valley – is very apt indeed.
To discover that an airport is being built in this area only baffles the mind completely. It’s a bit like digging up all of the fields around Stonehenge and building an airport there.
Since Cuzco has an airport, and is only 29 km from Chinchero, one has to question why another one in the area is necessary. For sure, since the journey by road from Cuzco to Chinchero – despite the relatively short distance – takes a long time, it only adds to the travelling experience, so I am horrified to think that one would stumble across and airport in such a virgin area such as Chinchero.
I was lucky that I was in Peru for a long time in 2004 and 2005. I have met many travellers since then, who have been to Peru in recent years, and I am thankful I went when I did. I have always longed to return – a piece of both my heart and soul were left there – but it seems the travel experience in Peru is not as it once was, so I think my memories of this beautiful country should be left as they are.
I have travelled to many countries and I can easily say Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador are the three poorest nations I have visited. Peru absolutely requires a tourist infrastructure as it relies so much on tourism for its wealth, but this airport plan is destroying an area that needs to be left alone. If there is any place on earth that is the Garden of Eden, then the Sacred Valley is it, and such a plan may actually reduce tourist numbers rather than increase them. Mind you, most of today’s young travellers want to get off a plane and walk straight to their destination, so unfortunately ease of access is something that is going to occur the world over.
I am now living in India and have been since last March, and it is easy for me to communicate with anyone. In fact, with video calls I can feel as if I am back in England anytime I want. It’s hard to imagine that when I journeyed to Peru I never had a mobile phone with me, there was no Facebook or any of these other convenient apps, and my only communication back home was via email if a location was lucky enough to have an Internet cafe. In fact, a twice weekly visit to an Internet Cafe was about as good as it got. With modern technology, travelling will never be the same again, and that in itself removes the whole idea of ‘travelling‘.
An airport in the middle of the Sacred Valley is also removing the whole idea of travelling, not to mention the noise pollution and the general destruction of the ambience in that area. The Peruvian government have made some catastrophic decisions over the years. I hope I am proved wrong on this occasion.