Hiram Bingham discovers Inca city Machu Picchu. July 24, 1911

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas


Hiram Bingham discovers Inca city Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham's logbook

'IT was in July, 1911, that we first entered that marvelous canyon of the Urubamba, where the river escapes from the cold regions near Cuzco by tearing its way through gigantic mountains of granite.'

24 July 1911, Dawn.
'Leaving the stream, we struggled up the bank through a dense jungle, and in a few minutes reached the bottom of a precipitous slope. For an hour and twenty minutes we had a hard climb. A good part of the distance we went on all fours, sometimes hanging on by the tips of our fingers. Here and there, a primitive ladder made from the roughly hewn trunk of a small tree was placed in such a way as to help one over what might otherwise have proved to be an impassable cliff. In another place the slope was covered with slippery grass where it was hard to find either handholds or footholds. The guide said that there were lots of snakes here. The humidity was great, the heat was excessive, and we were not in training.'

24 July 1911, Early afternoon.
'Richarte and Alvarez sent a small boy with me as a "guide". He urged us to climb up a steep hill over what seemed to be a flight of stone steps. We came to a great stairway of large granite. Only a really small man could have passed along it in the time of the Incas.'

'Our guide led us along one of the widest terraces, and we made our way into an untouched forest beyond. Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stone work. It was hard to see them for they were partly covered with trees and moss, the growth of centuries, but in the dense shadow, hiding in bamboo thickets and tangled vines, appeared here an there walls of white granite ashlars carefully cut and exquisitely fitted together. What a marvel!


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Last updated: October 27, 2007