Unlocking Machu Picchu: Alicante firefighter’s role in revealing Inca secrets

Unlocking Machu Picchu: Alicante firefighter Iñaki Saez's role in revealing Inca secrets.

Unlocking Machu Picchu: Alicante firefighter Iñaki Saez's role in revealing Inca secrets. Image: Iñaki Saez Mentxakatorre / Facebook

For 500 years, the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, has guarded secrets, some buried in places so remote and inaccessible that only condors and pumas could reach them.

However, an adventurous firefighter from Alicante has become a key player in unveiling these mysteries.

Part of a specialised group, he helps train archaeologists and anthropologists, enabling them to conduct research in this iconic site, one of the world’s seven new wonders.

This firefighter, Iñaki Sáez, resides in San Vicente del Raspeig and serves as an officer in the Provincial Firefighters Consortium.

For over 15 years, he has been a vital member of the “Ukhupacha” project.

“Ukhupacha,” a term from the native Quechua language, means “world within,” aptly describing the group’s mission to explore hidden cavities, caves, and chasms.

The project began in 2000 with a group of friends passionate about climbing and caving, who gathered to explore the inaccessible areas of Machu Picchu.

Their daring expeditions quickly caught the attention of local archaeologists, who saw them navigating walls they had only dreamt of scaling.

Recognising the potential of these climbers, the Ministry of Culture of Peru sought their collaboration, leading to a formal partnership in 2002.

This collaboration has yielded innumerable archaeological treasures, including gold, silver, ceramics, cave paintings, mummies, bone remains, and prehistoric fossils.

Moreover, the group’s efforts have gone beyond mere discovery.

Each year, Iñaki and his colleagues return to South America, driven by an altruistic mission that highlights local heritage, trains the local population, and establishes rescue groups, thereby boosting the local economy.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.