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Traveling by Book – Turn Right at Machu Picchu (Peru)

Turn right at Machu Picchu - Mark Adams

Since Peru is near the top of my “Where next?” Travel List, I’ve started doing some research.  I picked up Mark Adam’s “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time.”  A combination of history and travel narrative, I loved this book and need to speed up my travel planning now.

With the hundredth anniversary of Hiram Bingham III’s “discovery” of Machu Picchu in 2011, Mark Adams got to thinking about the authenticity this claim and the meaning of the famous ancient Inca site.  He embarks on a month long back-country trek to trace Bingham’s first expedition.  His team is led by John, an intense and almost larger-than-life actual explorer, and several local Peruvian men who seem unphased by the physical challenges of the journey.  While it seems that Mark does not find all the answers he was looking for, the book does a good job analyzing all the historical realities of  Machu Piccu – a beautiful piece in the interconnected Inca urban web, a forgotten jewel during the Spanish invasion, a vehicle for fame in the early 20th century and a modern day “bucket list” destination.

The book has an excellent balance of travel narrative and history.  Bingham’s background and expedition details are effortless incorporated into Mark’s modern experiences in Peru.  The chapter pacing is quick, hopping back and forth between history, anthropology and the dangers of only wearing one pair of socks while hiking.  Mark is an engaging writer and story-teller.  I immediately sympathized with the challenges he’d take on and identified with his desire to explore both the geography and the past.  Learning and seeing the world is at the heart of every trip and every adventure. Whether you’ve climbed the Inca Trail or hope to some day, you’d definitely enjoy reading “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”.

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