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This view of the Peruvian Andes was taken looking east from the international space station flying off the Peruvian coast and shows Cordillera Huayhuash (pronounced Why-wash). Here clouds are banked up on the east side, snow covers all higher slopes and mountain peaks, and glaciers occupy lower slopes. This prominent but short mountain range (25 km or 15 mi in length) boasts twenty peaks of remarkable steepness and ridge sharpness. Although only 100 km (60 mi) from the coastline, six of the peaks reach above 6,000 m (more than 19,500 ft), the highest of which is Nevado Yerupaja, Peru's second highest peak, variously estimated as 6,617 and 6,635 m high. Generally considered the most spectacular peak in South America, Yerupaja is so steep that it has seldom been climbed. Photo courtesy of NASA.
The rugged, mineral-rich Andes support some of the world's biggest mines (gold, silver, copper, and more). This image looks down the bull's-eye of Peru's Toquepala copper mine, a steep sided and stepped open-pit mine. Mid-afternoon sunlight on the arid slopes of the central Andes mountains provides an accent to the mine contours. At the surface, the open pit is 2.5 km (1.5 mi) across, and it descends more than 700 m (2,300 ft) into the earth. A dark line on the wall of the pit is the main access road to the bottom. Spoil dumps of material mined from the pit are arranged in tiers along the northwest lip of the pit. Numerous angular leaching fields appear lower right, and the railroad to the coast is a line that exits the image center left. The railroad was built to export Toquepala's copper and connects the coastal port of Ilo, 95 km (60 mi) to the southwest. Photo courtesy of NASA.
The Nasca Lines, located in the desert coastal plain of Peru 400 km south of Lima, were first observed in the 1920s when commercial airlines began operating in the area. Clearly seen from the air, the Lines were made by removing the iron-oxide coated pebbles which cover the surface of the desert. The lighter shade of the exposed ground contrasts with the color of the gravel. South of the Nasca Lines, archaeologists have now uncovered the lost city of the Line-builders. Known as Cahuachi, it was built nearly 2,000 years ago and was mysteriously abandoned 500 years later.
Image courtesy of NASA.
Aerial view contrasting snow and semi-arid terrain in the Andes.
Aerial shot of snow-capped Andes Mountains between Lima and Cusco.
Small mountain lake in the Andes.
Valley in the Andes Mountains.
A typical large town in the Sacred Valley (Urumbamba Valley) between Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Bird of Paradise plants in Aguas Calientes (Hot Waters), the closest modern-day town to the ancient mountaintop city of Machu Picchu.
Trains bring tourists and supplies to Aguas Calientes (Hot Waters), also known by the name of Machupicchu Pueblo.
A train passing through the center of Aguas Calientes.
Archaeologists think Machu Picchu was built as an estate for Inca Emperor Pachacuti, who reigned from 1438 to 1472. His statue dominates a square in Aguas Calientes.
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