National Geographic Presents Machu Picchu Photos To Peru

The National Geographic Society has presented 305 photographs of Machu Picchu to the Department of Culture of Cusco, Peru.  The digitalized photos of the world famous Inca city and must-see destination, were taken on the expeditions that Hiram Bingham made to the region in the early 1900s.

It is just over a hundred years ago now that the Yale University expedition led by Hiram Bingham “rediscovered” Machu Picchu, and many of the photos show the Inca sanctuary as it was when Bingham first saw it – overgrown with tropical vegetation and strewn with debris – barely recognizable as the site now frequented by visitors taking custom Machu Picchu tours.

“The photographs are in black and white and constitute a valuable record of the conditions in which the archeological remains were found during the expeditions led by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and subsequent years”, a representative of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture stated.

The expedition was in search for the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, the secret mountain stronghold that was the final refuge for the Inca emperor Pachacutec before being defeated by the Spanish in the 16th century.  When the Yale professor reached the area near the town of Aguas Calientes, he met Melchor Arteaga, a local farmer who, with the aid of Bingham’s interpreter, said he knew some ancient ruins high in the mountains nearby, which he referred to as Machu Picchu, which is Quechua for ‘old mountain’.

Bingham and his interpreter accompanied Arteaga up the mountain on a strenuous two-hour climb to a small hut occupied by local farmers who were growing crops there.  A small boy was enlisted to show Bingham the hidden marvels nearby and they eventually came to what Bingham referred to as “an unexpected sight, a great flight of beautifully constructed stone terraces, perhaps a hundred of them, each hundreds of feet long and ten feet high.”  They progressed a little further: “Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stonework.”

Machu Picchu, originally once thought by Bingham to be the lost city is now one of the most popular destinations on any luxury Peru tour.  However, the new ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is now known to be Espiritu Pampa or Vilcabamba, located in the jungle some 500km north-west of Cusco, which was the place to which the Incas fled to escape the Spanish in 1536.

These photos are a great testimony to the moment Hiram Bingham made his discovery.  And thanks to his efforts, and subsequently, those of the Peruvian authorities, modern-day travelers on a private Peru tour can see Machu Picchu in all its spectacular glory and be able to compare how it once was when abandoned to today’s flourishing site.