13 May 2012

Turn Right at Machu Picchu; Mark Adams

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a TimeTurn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn't an in-depth scholarly study of Machu Picchu, it's a combination of the story of Hiram Bingham III, who 101 years ago "discovered" the site, and the story of Mark Adams, who hires porters and a guide to retrace Bingham's steps.  The trek through the wilds of the Peruvian Andes would have been better served with more photos, and better maps, but what's there is simply stunning.

Adams doesn't pretend to understand that why of the Incan villages, cities and Trail.  Instead, he lets Bingham and others suggest reasons (we have little to no real history except what the Spaniards wrote), and comments on what the sites look like now.  The guides he hires include one man, Juvenal, whose family has lived near/farmed in this area for generations - Juvenal seems to walk the distances the group hikes as frequently as people in American walk around their local shopping mall.

The sense of humor here adds to the sense that this isn't just a travelogue, it's an exploration of sorts.  His research into Bingham, his insights into the Incan landscape and history, and his commentary on his own hiking help draw readers in in a way that almost makes you want to follow in his footsteps.  Luckily, he provides a bibliography that can allow armchair hikers another way to "see" this incredible site.

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