Fast food outlet to open in Machu Picchu

Restaurant selling Inca-themed burgers will open within site walls

To many gap year travellers and backpackers, Machu Picchu is iconic and sacred, a permanent link to a cultural past in a world full of disposable and intrusive commerce.

It will therefore come as a shock for many to discover that the green light has been given for a major fast food retailer to open a branch within the actual ruins of the site itself.

The retailer, which will brand the restaurant as 'Inca Burger', is set to open later this year in the section of the ruins believed to have originally been used for Incan spiritual worship.

Felipe Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the development, said: "Every year more and more western tourists are flocking to our country’s premier heritage sites. There is an acknowledgement at a top level that these tourists, who are making a great contribution to our economy, need to be offered food with which they are familiar.

"They want burgers and fries, not guinea pig and rice."

Machu Picchu, which was voted as one of the planet's 'New Seven Wonders of the World' in a 2007 internet poll, was apparently not protected by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gonzalez revealed: "You would be surprised at the loopholes within the protective regulations." 

The plans for the restaurant development are rumoured to include an Inca-themed fast food menu that will include the ‘Classic Inca Burger’ (Llama meat with tomato, lettuce and cheese) as well as the ‘Conquistador Wrap’ (Alpaca chunks with the oppressively dominant flavour of Spanish chorizo).

Machu Picchu visitors can now look forward to eating an 'Inca Burger'

There are also plans for the fast food franchise to give away site-related toys with meals, such as the Spanish Imperialist Soldier action figure and the more submissive-looking Sad Oppressed Native plastic figurine.

Imasu Sanchez, an indigenous Qechua farmer, said: "This is an insult to all Peruvians. The idea that walls stained with history will now only seep with the greasy residue of burger fat is outrageous."

He added: "I call on all visitors to my country to boycott this area until sanity has been restored."

Tour operator Max Simmons, an American and frequent visitor to the ancient Machu Picchu site, responded to the news by saying: "Some people will no doubt see this as a developing nation selling out their heritage by pandering to tourism dollars, and that’s simply not fair.

"Yes, the construction of a fast food restaurant within the walls of Machu Picchu might take something away from one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and, yes, the smell of history will now be infused with the putrid odour of fried meat.

"But at the end of the day, the walk up to the site is tiring and makes you hungry. What better way to appreciate the Incas than with an Inca Burger washed down with an Inca Shake, all for only 12 pesos?

"That’s progress."

What do you think gappers? Is this a step too far, or do you welcome the news? What other landmarks are in need of a corporate food and drink presence?

For more information on Peru, check out our country section.

Alternatively, read Warrick Howard's experience of Peru in the latest issue of Gapyear.com Magazine.