Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams

July 24, 2011

“Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” by Mark Adams is a non-fiction book in which the author follows the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III.

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN: 0525952241

Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark AdamsMy rating for Turn Right at Machu Picchu – 5

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One hundred years ago today explorer Hiram Bingham III found Machu Picchu and brought his findings to the rest of the world. Mark Adams (website), who worked for adventure magazines, used his contacts to follow Bingham’s footsteps in the jungles of Peru.

I love to read about places I’ve already visited, more often than not I wish I’ve read the book before I visited. When I saw the title of the book being offered by NetGalley I immediately asked permission to read it.

I visited Machu Picchu in 1992, before there was a cap on visitors and the touristic part of the visit was not as oiled as it is today. We had to find our own guide, hired some mules on the way and hoped we had enough food to last us for several days while we walked the Inca Trail.

At the time I didn’t appreciate what I was doing, I was young, in shape and figured that it’s a “must do”. Several years later it dawned on me what I was privileged to do and privileged to see and experience.

54 - The sun dial at Macchu Picchu, Macchu Picchu, Peru
Man of la Picchu -This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Marvelous Macchu Picchu

In “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” Mark Adams takes my little trip a step further, he actually walks in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III in places where few have ventured.

The book is in part a funny/serious travelogue, part smart history and part investigative report into Bingham’s discovery all encompassed in an unbending adventure. Mr. Adams, who was not a serious adventurer at the beginning of the trip, did well by surrounding himself with John Leivers , a professional guide who, for me, was the highlight of this book.

I certainly understood Mr. Adams’ annoyance with what he calls “Peruvian Time”. It drove me, a person who considers being on time as being late, absolutely nuts. There is a whole another issue which Mr. Adams passed on telling about the loose definition of “the truth” as well as foreigners being “fair game” / walking ATM machine, all of which simply rang up a wrong nerve with me.

Adams’ journey parallels the one Bingham describes in his books “Inca Land” and “Lost City of the Incas”. Adams writes a very readable narrative of his journey, Inca history, Bingham’s adventures as well as a little Peruvian history and culture tidbits.

Being that the first hand research material that is available for the Inca Empire has been chopped and diced by the emperors to glorify themselves, Adams does an excellent job pulling different resources to conjure up the beginnings of the Spanish conquest of the continent.

As I mentioned, I wish I had this book accessible to me in 1992, when I walked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. The trail is filled with Inca ruins which I made a point to visit and when I reached Machu Picchu I absolutely knew that was the end. However I completely missed the relationship of the trail with the famous site.
I guess it’s time to start planning to go back.

So tell me, do you love to read about places you’ve been to?


Journalist Mark Adams has spent a lot of time reading and editing stories for travel magazines. This time he decided to be part of the story and investigate allegations brought against Hiram Bingham III by retracing the famous explorer’s journey.

Part travel journal, part adventure story and part history lesson, Adams takes the readers into the extraordinary and colorful land of Peru in his search to find out what exactly was Machu Picchu.

Buy & Save on Turn Right at Machu Picchuthrough the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK

Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
Article first published as Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams on Blogcritics

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  • Shanan July 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I will have to get this book for a friend of mine who also hiked the Inca Trail. She said it was one of the most amazing trips of her life. Thank you for the review.

    To answer your question: I have not traveled much in my life and all of my traveling has been within the country. But I do love to read about places I would like to travel to one day. I like to read about places I have already been, but sometimes it is bittersweet. I long to go back to those places and try some new food/place/experience that I learned about in the book, and that is not always possible. And that longing makes me a little sad. But at the same time, I do love to read a book and think I have been there. I remember that.

    • zohar July 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

      Thanks for the comment Shanan, your friend would love the book.

  • Harvee/Book Dilettante July 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

    The title is captivating – I’d love to turn right at Machu Picchu, having never been there but itching to go. Nice review

    • zohar July 24, 2011 at 10:35 am

      It’s a beautiful place. I’m glad I was there before the restrictions were put in place.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) July 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    You are indeed lucky to have made such a trip! I love to read about places that are familiar to me as well. I’ve never been to Machu Picchu but think I’d like this book too.

  • Aths July 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I definitely enjoy reading about places that I have been to. Makes me feel all “I know what this is about”. Machu Picchu also happens to be a place I so want to visit.

  • Markus Laine August 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Hello Zohar, nice review of what seems to be a cool book. I have Bingham’s book in my shelf and might check this one out, too. If you’re interested in travel books about Asia, there’s a couple (and more later) on my blog.


  • Emma March 6, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Wonderful place,view and amazing stone crafting.

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