Site Museum Manuel Chavez Ballon and Botanical Garden
These two excellent and not frequently visited museums will give you an idea of the integration between nature and archaeology that distinguishes the sanctuary. That is why I consider it vital to visit them. You can reach both places by a paved road by which the buses go from Machu Picchu to the citadel, crossing the Ruinas Bridge, through a signaled road (from the town, about 25 minutes walking.)
The Site Museum Manuel Chávez Ballón is named after the archaeologist that thoroughly studied Machu Picchu during the decade of 1970. It contains a collection of 200 objects, including, artifacts, construction tools (copper and bronze), mirrors, pegs and needles. It also shows how the quarry was exploited and the stone worked for the construction of the citadel. There are hypothetical reconstructions. This is the place where the pieces returned by Yale should be exhibited, as long as an adequate space is designed, since it is very important to have a place to display what was found in Mapi along all these years. The pieces that were taken by Hiram Bingham were returned to Peru at the beginning of 2011. They had been ay Yale’s Peabody Museum in the United States – and will be displayed soon in Casa Concha, a colonial house from Cusco, recently restored, located just one block away from the Plaza Mayor.
The Botanical Garden is a refuge for wildlife where you can see dozens of species of ornamental, medicinal and food plants of the local ecosystem. In there, between the humidity of the greenhouses and the sensuality of the heliconias, you can feel the extraordinary role that nature had in the design of Mapi. You can also see local edible species almost extinct and abundant orchids (especially in November.) Orchids are one of the best treasures kept by the sanctuary, since there is a total of more than 350 species in this area. Some outstanding species are wakankis or la llorona, the Crier, (Masdevallia veitchiana), the Queen’s Little Shoe, zapatito de reina (Cypripedium calceolus) and wiñay wayna, (‘always young” in Quechua.) This garden is very well managed by the Ministry of Culture.