Turn Right at Machu Picchu

July 24th marks the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s rediscovery of Machu Picchu, which awoke the world to the beauty and mystery of the “Lost City of the Inca.” Celebrations around the world are happening this summer to commemorate the centennial. Here at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., you’ll find a photo exhibit of vintage shots of Bingham’s first three expeditions to Peru.

Also this month, we’re celebrating online. Our Trip Lit columnist Don George reviews Mark Adams’s new book Turn Right at Machu Picchu. As an über-fan of all things Inca, I asked Mark to do a Q&A with us so we could learn more about his book, his trek, and other travels. Plus, we’re offering a free copy of Mark’s book to one lucky reader who submits a comment below detailing their best tale of trudging to Machu Picchu or why they dream about heading there.

Photo courtesy of Dutton Publishers

How did you come up with the idea to retrace Bingham’s steps on his search for the Lost City of the Inca?

About three years ago, I was working in New York City as an editor at the late, lamented National Geographic Adventure magazine. At an active travel magazine, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are subjects that come up in meetings pretty much daily, probably in the same way the British royals are discussed at Vanity Fair. So when the name of Hiram Bingham III—the man who famously located Machu Picchu in 1911—popped up in the news not once but twice in 2008, I immediately thought there might be potential for a story.

When did your fascination with the Inca world begin and what ignited it?

I’ve always had an interest in Peru because my wife’s family is half Peruvian, and we’ve made several trips to Lima to visit relatives. But I have to admit that the Incas and Bingham were largely mysteries to me until I started researching this book. What happens is that the material is so fascinating—lost cities, temples of gold, human sacrifices, evil Spanish conquistadors, ambitious Ivy League professors-turned-explorers obsessed with becoming famous— you can’t help but get sucked in.

What was the trip’s toughest moment? And its best?

The hardest moment came on the second day of a three-week trek, as we were climbing to the ruins of Choquequirao. It was almost 90 degrees out and we were traversing a slope that was almost vertical. I struggled because I was not in nearly good enough shape, and I’d ground my toes into hamburger meat the previous day by walking down 5,000 steep feet of switchbacks wearing new boots. Bingham wrote about the climb in one of his books, but I thought he had exaggerated. He didn’t.

The best moment (leaving aside my arrival at Machu Picchu, which is always amazing) was probably the morning we spent walking the 15,000-foot-high Choquetacarpo Pass. The area is so far off the map that the old Inca highway there, probably built 600 years ago, is in great condition. It’s like walking on a miniature scale model of the Great Wall of China. We didn’t see another person for two days.

For our website you compiled a list of six alternate routes to Machu Picchu for visitors who want to escape the congested Inca Trail. Any tips for travelers to avoid the crowds?

Thanks to the quota system on the Inca Trail, it’s still a terrific hike. The Incas quite obviously designed it to unfold like a good mystery novel, with twists and turns, rising and falling action, suspense and surprises. What I’d recommend is to do the Inca Trail in five days rather than the standard four. After all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so what’s the rush? Plus, you’ll stay at less-crowded campsites and spend most of your hiking time separated from the biggest crowds. I’m told that all the other treks to Machu Picchu are lovely—there’s even one now that allows you to sleep in lodges rather than tents, if you don’t mind paying extra. June, July, and August are the busiest months for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, so if you can go in April, May, September, or October, that’s preferable. And I can’t stress enough how important it is to book ahead, even months in advance. The good old days of strolling into Cusco and arranging an impromptu Inca Trail trip have long since come and gone. You might, however, be able to set up a last-minute journey to the ruins of Choquequirao. It’s known as Machu Picchu’s “sister site” because of the resemblance between the two.

Besides Machu Picchu, what are some other places you’ve traveled that have really captivated you?

When I worked as a magazine writer, I always seemed to get sent to out-of-the-way places. The Basque country in northern Spain, which looks like a cross between Provence and Wisconsin. The crumbling red-brick shell of what was once America’s greatest health sanitarium, in upstate New York. One of the most incredible places I’ve ever been is American Samoa, where I was dispatched to find out why so many Samoans make it to the NFL. The main town, Pago Pago, is pretty drab, but once you get outside of it the beaches are amazing and deserted, and half of the island is a national park with a skyscraping mountain called the Rainmaker at its center. Because there’s no tourism infrastructure on the island, almost no one ever visits.

If you’ve been to Machu Picchu tell us about your visit and its most transcendent moment. Or, if you haven’t yet been, let us know why you dream of heading there some day. We’ll select our favorite comment and send the commenter a free copy of Mark’s book Turn Right at Machu Picchu. Commenting ends Sunday, July 24 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Want more Machu Picchu? Check out Nat Geo’s many offerings including, top 10 things to eat in Peru, Machu Picchu secrets, and a quiz to test your knowledge about the site.

Meg Weaver is a senior researcher at National Geographic Traveler.

Comments

  1. Lighted Fountains
    January 29, 2013, 2:28 pm

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  2. [...] reminded about another ancient city in Peru: The Lost City of Inca: Machu Picchu. Today, July 24, marks the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of this city. In 2007, this was [...]

  3. Dwain Kelley
    Austin TexasI
    September 22, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I’m 79 and read The Lost City of the Incas when I was a teenager. Someone just gave me the new Mark Adams book. I’m an artist and refer to Machu Picchu as inspiration for my art. SCULPTURAL ASSEMBLAGES .www.dwainkelley@aol.com Looking foward to reading Mark Adams book. Thanks

  4. Caryl Dolinko
    Vancouver, Canada
    August 9, 2011, 2:02 am

    Twenty years ago I travelled to Machu Picchu for the summer solstice and met the manager of security, Jose. We shared an interest in metaphysics and crystals and meditation and spent an amazing few days being shown what most don’t see. I had the book History of the Incas, recou ting Hiram Bingham’s journey to the mystical site. I didnt think about the book again, until 14 years later… My aunt was staying in a bed and breakfast in Santa Fe, NM and in their library, she found a book with my name written on the inside cover. She knew I’d been to Peru and decided it was fate to return the book to me. My jaw dropped when she handed me my book. I have no way to find Jose and its now been years since that fateful summer, but that trip to the Inca site reminds me of the mystery of life and the book is on my shelf now.

  5. Agencia de Viajes Peru
    http://www.agenciadeviajesperu.com/
    August 5, 2011, 7:24 pm

    Yo recomiendo “Amanecer en Machu Picchu”, meses de mayo a septiembre, es una experiencia muy bonita, puedes ver los primeros rayos del sol reflejando los muros de la ciudadela como si se tratase de la iluminación de una gran estrella, cuya luz reposa en la plaza principal.

    Tambien puedes escalar hasta el Hualnapicchu (pico mas alto) donde puedes tener un panorama total de Machu Picchu y sus alrededores.

    Gracias amigos de Travel & Cultures por su valioso aporte a nuestra cultura Inca.

    Lorenzo Aguilera
    Agencia de Viajes Peru

  6. Doug
    Cambridge, MA
    July 26, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Here is a short, entertaining essay I wrote about my experience hiking the Inca Trail:
    http://www.dojoklo.com/writing/IncaTrail.htm

    A couple years later I just so happened to meet Paulo Greer and some of the other characters from the (wonderful) book, in Cusco, just as Greer’s article came out in SA Explorer. I certainly know what Adams means when he calls him an “obsessive amateur historian.” He was definitely single-mindedly determined to share his story. My companion and I had to begin to avoid him out and about in Cusco so as not to hear his theories again and again!

  7. Tim Smith
    Washington, DC
    July 25, 2011, 10:12 am

    When you arrive at Machu Picchu your jaw will drop for two reasons. Number 1: The view is breathtaking and it seems unreal that you’re there. Number 2: There will be thousands of other tourists up there with you. The beautiful photos of Machu Picchu that we all know show it uninhabited and serene — when you arrive as a tourist it will be anything but. My girlfriend (ella es peruana) and I took a guided group tour of the city then later in the afternoon explored on our own. We found a relatively peaceful grassy terrace and lay down for naps. Upon awaking the city had cleared out and there seemed to be no one around but us and the llamas. Sitting there enjoying the breeze in our own corner of the city was a magical moment and that’s when it felt like we truly arrived at Machu Picchu.

  8. Sonali Sircar
    Kolkata, India
    July 25, 2011, 8:07 am

    I love to travel off the beaten path. So when I visit in a couple of months time, I want to Turn Right at Machu Picchu instead of going with the crowd.

  9. Em Donlan
    Sydney, Australia
    July 25, 2011, 4:19 am

    Some people dream of winning the lottery, others dream of that shiny new car. But the things that make me smile in my sleep are the adventures I am yet to have. And one adventure I cannot shake is the chance to walk where one of the greatest civilisations in history once stood. The lore of the quest is a thing forgotten and Machu Picchu is one of the few true examples of human curiosity and spirit. The stairs that lead to these ruins prove what we are capable of. Who wouldn’t want to bear witness to that?

  10. nikita pawar
    India
    July 25, 2011, 12:46 am

    the article is really a good guide.thanks.machupicchu is really a beautiful place,i would surely visit if anyday i get a chance

  11. Liz Sinclair
    Bali, Indonesia
    July 24, 2011, 11:54 pm

    A visit to Machu Picchu is a series of linked transcendent moments. When you first step into the grounds and see the vast size of the site that photos simply cannot show, when you climb the guard tower that looms above the site and see a whole city spread out below you, when you sit in the ruins of the ancient guard station and watch clouds roll in over the mountains like waves on a beach and reach in vain for a word beyond ‘awesome.’ when you clamber down the rain-slicked, carved-stone-steps in the backside of the sentinel peak to find the Temple of the Moon, and you have it to yourself, when you climb to the last gate on the Inca Trail and see what pilgrims must have seen at the end of a long, weary hike, a longed-for holy place, gleaming on a hill, when you stand at the gates of the city, one last time, at sunset, and watch the giant stones, packed artfully together by lost masonry sklls, turn orange and pink and red in the fading light.

  12. Callie
    MN, USA
    July 24, 2011, 11:12 pm

    I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively but not yet to a truly ancient location like Machu Picchu. I’ve been to ancient cities that have grown up with humanity, like Rome, but an ancient site that was sealed off and preserved, uninfluenced by millenniums of development and cultural changes has not yet been available to me. In graduate school I studied cultural memory and have seen how distant memories have been transformed over generations in populated ancient locals, but it would be a wondrous opportunity to one day visit a place and see the remaining memories of a culture frozen in time. It would be inspiring to see what qualities and values they felt were important enough to be built into their structures, their forms and designs, and the layout of their community, which would ultimately out-live themselves by thousands of years.

    However, Machu Picchu is more than just a time-capsule into the past, but an opportunity to also see so many vivid species alive today, as well as the beautiful vistas along the trail that only nature can create – something we tend to forget in our daily lives in our concrete cities of the twenty-first century. As I imagine it, the trail into Machu Picchu doesn’t just isolate and protect the place, the hike forces the traveler to slow down to the pace of the past – no speeding trains dropping off and picking up tourists ever half-hour – so that one can take it all in at the rate it’s ancient people would have, allowing the visitor to become aware of all it’s subtle details.

    These are just some of the thoughts I have about this wondrous place and my hopes of one day being able to travel there to see it for myself, at the slow pace of being in wonder and awe, but I hope that reading more about Machu Picchu will continue to build my vision of visiting this once lost city.

  13. Arlinda
    Albuquerque, NM
    July 24, 2011, 10:29 pm

    I fell in love with Machu Picchu when my instructor showed us an old black and white photo of the ruins peaking out through clouds. I felt like I dreamed this beautiful city in the sky and ever since then I’ve wanted to see Machu Picchu for myself. Although I still haven’t saved enough money to go I know someday I’ll get there and I can’t wait!

  14. Shaunna
    Ventura, CA
    July 24, 2011, 10:09 pm

    I’ve wanted to go to “The Lost City of the Incas” since I was thirteen and read a novel that was placed there. It totally captivated my imagination, and in the intervening years as I’ve traversed through adulthood and gained more knowledge it’s never ceased to be the #1 place in the world I’d like to travel to.

    Alas, I’ve also suffered a condition that sapped me physically that’s put the actuality of going there always “in the future.” My ex-husband was kind enough to gift me with a photograph of Galen Rowell’s of Machu Picchu so I can look at it every day as inspiration toward realizing the actuality. I’d love to have this book and read more of the reality of it.

  15. Sharon Carson
    California, U.S.A
    July 24, 2011, 10:05 pm

    The Mayan Creation Story:
    First father is the very first human. He sacrificed himself to make the world. His body became the trees’ roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches rising up forming the sky. All that remained is first father’s head. His children hung in in the heavens creating Xibalba. Death as an act of creation. -The Fountain

    When I heard of the Mayan creation story in the film “The Fountain,” I knew I had to go. Any culture that explains creation, life and death as something so magical deserves to be preserved, respected and visited. I will go one day. One day.

  16. JoNell Modys
    Florida
    July 24, 2011, 9:40 pm

    I hiked the Inca Trail in 1985 with my friend and guide, Buz Donahoo of Condor Adventures and a small group from Orlando, Florida. This was before the busy, regulated days and Buz had been going on his own for years. Once we got to high altitude the dry air caused me to lose one of my contact lenses, so my depth perception was a bit off. It was a long day and scaling down the steep rocky terrain was treacherous. I lost my footing, badly injured my ankle and fell down the rocks. Once at the camp sight, my fellow travelers except Buz and my husband turned against me and no one offered help or assistance, they were worried that I would ruin their journey. He knew that one person had pain pills and she refused to offer one. Their negative comments, which they didn’t think I could hear, burn in my consciousness to this day. I was laying alongside of a path while my husband pitched our tent. A troop of Peruvian Girl Scouts came down the trail. I young girl of about ten or eleven years old stopped and held my hand. She wiped a tear off my face and I felt I was looking at an angel as she stroked my forehead. Her leader, a nurse, stopped and examined my ankle and pronounced it badly sprained but not broken, and guided me to a near freezing stream and had me soak it until I thought I would die from the cold. She wrapped my ankle so tightly it was almost like a cast. Once I let her know I wanted to walk out instead of be rescued, she advised me to hire one of our Quechua guides to carry my pack. One of them took on my cause and cut a branch from a tree to use as a walking stick. That night after sipping some mate de coca to relieve the pain, I opened a tent flap and saw the most amazing sky. We saw the Space Shuttle cruising overhead and a million stars. The next day, my Quechua friend said I shouldn’t walk down the hundreds of steps that we encountered. He carried me piggyback, running the steps so fast we made it down before everyone else. We were both laughing and I was amazed at his strength and lung power. I quietly proceeded to persevere over the full body bruises, cuts and sprained ankle and I made it all the way, walking on my own. At Machu Pichu, I had an overwhelming sense that I am stronger than I ever knew, and Buz, who suffers no fools and offers few compliments, told me I had made one of the best rallying efforts he had seen after years of climbing. The unbelievable mysteries of the massive stones placed at Machu Pichu was complimented by a new sense of inner peace and strength.

  17. Steve Kelly
    Arlington, VA
    July 24, 2011, 9:19 pm

    i just recently became responsible for South American sales in my company and am planning to travel extensively in the area. What better place than Machu Picchu to begin to understand the rich and fantastic history?

  18. Rebekah
    Florida
    July 24, 2011, 9:05 pm

    I love travel for the romance and mystery it holds and Machu Picchu is the epitome of theae ideals. Few other places is the world have remained unsullied and shrouded in mystery like this ancient site has. I have tremdouse respect and awe for the intellect of the Inca people.

  19. Coco
    July 24, 2011, 8:50 pm

    Next stop on my travel to-do list: Machu Picchu, Peru. After spending four wonderful months studying abroad in breath-taking San Sebastian, Spain, I want to expand my Spanish-speaking horizons and set foot on another continent–South America.
    The way I see it: if one of the world’s natural wonders can look so spectacular in photos, I can only imagine how incredible it must be in real life. The low cloud cover grazing the top of the ancient ruins, the lush green grass in stark contrast with the stone structures. Prominent, soaring mountains surrounding the site, a place that represents a source of life among an otherwise uninhabited wilderness.
    That is exactly what I aspire to experience; ¡espero que pueda yo viajar a este sitio pronto!

  20. Michelle
    July 24, 2011, 8:42 pm

    I long to wander through “Intihuatana”,” the Temple of the Sun”, and the” Room of the Three Windows” – civilization’s “Sacred District” with the unbelievable light and my imagination as guides. I can’t think of another place where the promise and romance of history could be made so alive to a visitor. It is a trip about remembering something you never really knew…

  21. Nick Uselis
    United States
    July 24, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I want to visit Machu Picchu, because I have read about its history, and I would like to visit the ruins of this place and see what remains of the physical place and its inhabitants. Its not a matter of if I will go, but when I will go.

  22. gissel
    mexico
    July 24, 2011, 8:31 pm

    I always dream to go to Machu Picchu since my uncle went there and told us the amazing journey he had. He mention in his trip the beautiful of the mountain as he climb more and more, he visit a restaurant at the middle of the way, my uncle comment the delicious food prepared there. Continuing to the top he could also feel the pressure and the lack of air, but once on the top the view was incredible and the archaeological site was covering the whole mountain and more. If I have the opportunity to go I will never miss to have a taste of their delicious food, see a lama or take a picture with it, climb Machu Picchu as enjoying the magical view and take as many pictures I could.

  23. Yulia
    Indonesia
    July 24, 2011, 8:23 pm

    Machu Picchu is the first on my “place to visit before I die” list. Why? Because of my childhood dreams, because of Tintin – Temple of the Sun, because of Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield, well.. many reasons. Or, simple because of the mystery surrounding it. I put the picture of the ruins as my laptop background for years. I wish I can climb, stand up inside the site and feel the vibration… I definitely will go!

  24. Eric
    Long Island
    July 24, 2011, 8:23 pm

    Looking forward to one day visiting Machu Picchu!

  25. David
    Lakeview, MI
    July 24, 2011, 8:17 pm

    Ever since I was just a small child, I have always wanted to travel the world. I grew up watching National Geographic, and every new show added another destination to my list of places I wanted to go when I was older. Machu Picchu was one of the first places on this list. I’ve watched so many documentaries and read so many National Geographic articles on the Inca people and their culture, and they have always amazed me. The fact that the Inca were brilliant enough to build such an architectural masterpiece at such a high altitude and without modern technology is beyond my comprehension. The magnificence of this ancient wonder of the world is breathtaking, and I would go in a heartbeat given the chance. Now, after my 16th birthday and the acquisition of my passport for the occasion, I am ready to explore the world, and Machu Picchu is at the top of my list.

  26. Linda Kassof
    Florida
    July 24, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Visiting Machu Picchu was always a dream for me, ever since I was about 14, learning Spanish in High School from a devoted teacher who had lived in Peru. I did get the chance to visit last May – took the train from Cusco – spent just a few hours at Machu Picchu. It was so surreal being there just those few hours, so much so it seemed like a dream I was there, so almost immediately I decided to go back, and spend the night at Sanctuary Lodge so I could be right on site for two days. I’ve finally decided that I will do the Inca Trail hike, and will go in June 2012 so I reach Machu Picchu at the time of the solstice. I am going to spend the year getting prepared for the hike – which will be a very overall good thing for my health anyway. I am as excited to go back as I was to visit there the first time. It’s okay if I don’t win the book – I just ordered it anyway.

  27. Steven
    Indiana
    July 24, 2011, 8:09 pm

    I want to live the Real Indiana Jones & Go on A Great Adventure.

  28. Patti
    New Jersey
    July 24, 2011, 12:11 pm

    I visited Machu Picchu in 1976 as a first semester college student. I was travelling with 11 other students (and a professor) through Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. Machu Picchu was, without a doubt, the highlight of our trip. It impacted each of us deeply ~ and for very different, and very personal, reasons.

    At the time there was no hotel at Machu Picchu. We stayed in Aguas Calientes, which was just a whistlestop town back then. Six girls and the resident monkey stayed in one room on one mattress. The five guys stayed in the other room on a mattress or in sleeping bags on the floor.

    In the morning, we’d have breakfast at the little cafe across the railroad tracks and then walk down the tracks, following the Urubamba River, to Machu Picchu. On our final day, we didn’t want to leave and stayed a tad too long. We ended up walking back to Aguas Calientes in the pitch black with one flashlight amongst us. We could hear the Urubamba rushing below us through the unevenly placed railroad ties. But we were young, adventerous and madly in love with Machu Picchu.

    All these years later, the passion I have for Machu Picchu hasn’t died. I’ve often thought of that trip ~ and dream of returning to thesacred mystery, wonder and *magic* that is Machu Picchu.

  29. Patti Kerr
    Flemington, NJ
    July 24, 2011, 10:51 am

    I went to Machu Picchu in 1976 as a first semester college freshman. There were 11 of us travelling through Colombia, Peru & Ecuador and, without question, Machu Picchu had the biggest impact on all of us ~ and all for our very own, personal reasons.

    There was no hotel there at the time. We stayed in Aquas Calientes which was just a little whistlestop town back then. Six girls and the resident monkey stayed in one room on one mattress; 5 guys in the other room on a mattress or the floor.

    Every morning we had breakfast at the little cafe across the railroad tracks before walking down the railroad tracks along (and over) the Urubamba River to Machu Picchu.

    On our last night, we didn’t want to leave this *magical* place. We waited too long and walked back in the dark with flashlights. We could see the river rushing below us through the unevenly spaced railroad ties but we were young, fearless ~ and madly in love with Machu Picchu.

    I’ve long dreamed of going back ~ to be in that sacred space again. Whoever is blessed to win this voyage, rest assured, you won’t return the same person. Thus is the *magic* of Machu Picchu.

  30. APOMT
    United States
    July 23, 2011, 5:21 pm

    Hello,
    I have sent some of many clients to Machu Picchu Peru, all of them have raved about how special it really is. I personally have not been so lucky to visit. From what I understand the hike in is amazing and if you love history this would be a great outing for you. After reading this post I am even more curious about learning more about this ancient and mysterious place.

    Genuinely,
    C.S. Montgomery
    http://www.apeaceofmindtravel.com

  31. Tom
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    July 22, 2011, 4:00 pm

    We visited Machu Picchu two years ago and having spent the night before in Aquas Calientes, we got a good early start up the mountain. We were initially disappointed that it was very cloudy and misty when we first arrived, but with the small amount of people that were there, it gave a surreal feeling to the entire place. Seeing the llamas graze amongst the clouds was truly memorable. Later in the morning, the sun appeared, and so did hundreds and hundreds of other folks who felt that they were lucky that it was a sunny day to visit. Those of us who got there early shared an inside secret of viewing Machu Picchu in a hauntingly beautiful light.

    http://bigblueglobe.blogspot.com

  32. Chris Bechard
    Estes Park, Colorado
    July 22, 2011, 1:04 pm

    I was hiking the Inca Trail alone back in 1980, when it was more wild and much less crowded than it is now. The weather was not cooperating and thick clouds enshrouded the way. On my third day I somehow got off-trail and began climbing down into what soon became inpenetrable undergrowth. I tried to climb back up but the slick mud made it impossible. After some time passed thrashing downhill, I suddenly came upon a beautiful, small wildcat I later was told was a oscollo. He was pensive and growled but at the same time curious and started walking out on what seemed a very thin game trail, so I followed. I lost sight of him several times but incredibly he waited for me from time to time, licking a wounded paw. After an hour or so of countouring and climbing on a very narrow shelf of limestone, I emerged in a clear blue sky next to the ruins of Winay Wayna. Down below and within easy distance were the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu. I started to cry, and in my happiness looked around to give thanks to my newfound feline friend, but he had disappeared, this time for good. A little while later I finally arrived at the Tree of Life at Machu Picchu and gave thanks for what was undoubtedly the greatest experience I had ever lived. Down in Aguas Calientes the next day, I related my experience to some locals, who called me crazy, as there were no oscollos on or near the trail. Regardless, I considered myself fortunate to have had help that day, and have always wondered if there was a more spiritual meaning to my experience. I my heart, I know it was.

  33. Grace
    Canada
    July 22, 2011, 12:56 pm

    I wasn’t sure which category I fell into: been to Machu Picchu or dreaming of heading there some day.

    I dreamt of heading there because I love archaeology and hearing about how seemingly primitive cultures demonstrated a wealth of knowledge and made advancements in science. It was also so mysterious to me how nobody knew what happened to the Incas after they left Machu Picchu. Besides, who doesn’t love the concept of making it to an ancient city via long and treacherous hike. It’s the kind of reward all adventurists seek.

    I finally had the opportunity to go to Peru this past March, but the trip was a disaster. My good friend was ill the whole trip (anxiety attacks, food poisoning, altitude sickness). The weather was also so miserable at Machu Picchu and you could not see any of the surrounding mountains. Even though we carried around an oxygen tank through all of Machu Picchu and it poured rain the entire time we were there, there was a brief break in the clouds and we attempted to hike Huaynapicchu for the amazing view of the site. We were ten minutes from the top when another anxiety attack hit coupled with altitude sickness and had to turn around. Needless to say, I am in desperate need of a re-visit to the lost city.

    That elusive transcendent first glimpse is still a dream to chase…

  34. dcscorpiongirl
    Washington, DC
    July 22, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I went to Peru in 2007, just a couple weeks after the devastating earthquake. I had been working at a job for 11 months that was causing me to have so many stress related health issues that I been desperately searching for new employment as I booked my vacation to Peru with my friend.

    I have been to ancient ruins before and those moments were always very powerful for me. When my friend suggested going to Machu Picchu in my heart I knew the journey would be a spiritual one. For that reason, I was determined to find a new job before I got up on the “mountain”. I didn’t want anything to ruin my awakening.

    Miraculously, I was blessed with a job offer the day before I left for Lima. My soul was free to soar. I felt like the universe had given me a gift. As I struggled to the top of the winding staircase leading to Machu Picchu I actually felt inexplicably nervous. I couldn’t imagine that the site could live up to my fantasy.

    Machu Picchu is a mysterious place, full of beauty. There’s a palpable energy in the air. As an asthmatic I have never breathed so freely.

    As I stood on top of the entire world, I was struck by how “sublime” the mountain peaks were. I had never before understood the true meaning of that word. The Andes are incredibly beautiful while so overwhelmingly massive and awe-inspiring.

    Despite my fear of heights, I was in heaven. Literally.

  35. Jennifer
    Sunset, UT
    July 22, 2011, 11:58 am

    As a 12-year old I would talk to my neighbor about Peru and ask about her adventures visiting the country. My family never traveled a lot but traveling and experiencing a new culture, a new part of Earth i have never seen, and history coming to life has always excited me.

    She is a nurse and travels to Peru quite often to aid the locals and then experience the country. She would tell me about the hike to Machu Picchu and in great detail, what it’s like to hike and come to the great ancient city. I have yet to go, but I am working on it. I will make it there one day and this book would be so awesome to read before I go. I can’t wait to see the magnificent city and to take part in the hike! It’s going to be a dream come true – and I would love to have access to all the tips in “Turn Right At Machu Picchu.” Please – choose me for the book!

  36. Marina Puszyn
    Caracas, Venezuela
    July 22, 2011, 11:19 am

    Since I was 13, my dream had been to visit the magical Machu Picchu, i had some Peruvian pen-pals and the only thing I always asked them was about the Inca culture and Machu Picchu. Finally, last year I was able to fulfill that dream! And it didn’t disappoint me, it was all I had dreamed of it and much more. The most awesome moment of that visit -hopefull my first one- was when we emerged from the little forest that connects the main entrance to the point where you can see all of the citadel, with Waina Picchu across from it. I could just open my mouth wide, an after a few seconds 3 words came out: OH my God! those 3 words encompassed all those feelings that came rushing out as soon as I stepped in front of that marvel: awe, respect for a culture that was able to accomplish so much, and a deep thanks to God for allowing me the opportunity to personally experience Machu Picchu.

  37. Jack
    July 22, 2011, 11:07 am

    I want to visit Machu Picchu because ever time we would talk about it during Social Studies it would amaze me. Everything about amazed me. If I every get a chance I will be sure to go.