What happens when an adventure travel expert-who's never actually done anything adventurous-tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu?
July 24, 1911, was a day for the history books. For on that rainy morning, the young Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and encountered an ancient city in the clouds: the now famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Nearly a century later, news reports have recast the hero explorer as a villain who smuggled out priceless artifacts and stole credit for finding one of the world's greatest archaeological sites.
Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, so his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer's perilous path to Machu Picchu isn't completely far- fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty, antisocial Australian survivalist and several Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule tenders as his guides, Adams takes readers through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru, from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco to the enigmatic ruins of Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
Along the way he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists since Hiram Bingham's time: Just what was Machu Picchu?
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MARK ADAMS is the author of the acclaimed historyMr. America, whichThe Washington Postnamed a Best Book of 2009, and theNew York Times bestsellerTurn Right at Machu Picchu. He writes for many national magazines, includingGQ, Men's Journal, and New York. He lives near New York City with his family.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
John's “martini explorer” comment had unnerved me a little—compared to Bingham, I was a white-wine spritzer explorer—so before committing to anything, I thought I should mention that it had been a while since I had slept outdoors. What came out of my mouth instead was “I might not be completely up-to-date on the latest tent-erecting methods.”
“That's all right,” John said. “We'll need mules for a trip like this and the arrieros—the muleteers—can set up the tents. How do you feel about food?”
“You like cooked food?” John asked.
I admitted that I did, in fact, have a weakness for victuals prepared over heat.
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