Hiram Bingham beaten to the Machu Picchu punch

07Jun08

Last year, my wife and I visited Peru and among the many wonderful places we say, Machu Picchu, a new seven wonders of the world, was among the more memorable ones.

Before our trip, to better immerse ourselves into the history of Peru, we read a lot and watched videos about the Incas, etc. One of the highlights was the discovery of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham, an interpid explorer in the vein of Indiana Jones. It was a big deal, and there’s even a luxury train named after him that goes to Machu Picchu from Cuzco.

Anyway, new evidence suggests that Hiram wasn’t the first Westerner to discover Machu Picchu. Apparently, a German by the name of Augusto Berns, found the site and looted it.

It doesn’t change the accomplishment of Bingham because he rediscovered it when it was obscured and covered by brush, and made it known to the world, but it’s unfortunate that what Berns did will leave a mark on his achievement.

Machu Picchu at sunrise
Machu Picchu at sunrise

To get the photo above, we got up early and onto the second bus leaving Aguas Calientes for Machu Picchu. This was actually our second trip up — we visited the afternoon before as well to get an initial impression and scout a good location. Though we were early, the weather didn’t cooperate and kept the ruins shrouded for another two hours. At about eight AM, it started to clear and it was glorious.

Check out the rest of my Peru photos here.

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