Turn Right at Machu Picchu
Mark, you can’t finish the Inca Trail and not know that this was the endpoint of a pilgrimmage.John Leviers, Turn Right at Machu Picchu
Author: Mark Adams
Geographic Area: Peru
Original Language: English
Mark Adams, a magazine editor who had never even slept in a tent, journeys to the Peruvian jungle in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham, the guy who (purportedly) discovered the “lost Inca city” of Machu Picchu. Enlisting the help of an Australian guide who’s spent so much time in the Andes that he sometimes forgets English, Adams seeks the truth behind Bingham’s claims, as well as the truth behind Machu Picchu itself.
My dad had gotten me Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time last Christmas, but I only recently got around to reading it. Once I started it, though, I moved through it pretty quick. Mark Adams is an incredible writer, his breezy flow punctuated with hilarious observations and metaphors. He captures the essence not only of Peru but also of his travel companions. In particular, one John Leviers, an Australian expat who’s the real deal when it comes to adventure guides. He’s seen more of the world than most six people combined, and he’s not one to let something like open-heart surgery keep him from enjoying the Inca Trail.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu is great because it’s both a travel book and a solid nonfiction novel in its own right. Adams fills us in on the biography of Hiram Bingham, the controversial American explorer, with research and interviews, while also walking in his exact footsteps, taking the same routes he would have 100 years before.
You’ll also learn a lot about Peru, and not just the tourist attraction of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. You’ll learn about other, lesser-known Inca sacred sites scattered throughout the mountains. You’ll hear about great places to stay in Cusco and other lesser-known towns, la hora peruana, and even Peruvian politics and their street-level ramifications. I think Adams does a very good job of shedding light on as much as possible, while still leaving rooms for mysteries to just be mysteries.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu is a book that you can finish quickly but never forget.