What is it like being a real-life Indiana Jones? Mark Adams tells us in his excellent book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu. I was astonished at the detail that he goes into, and the accuracy of his book concerning the Inka Empire, Tahuantisuyu.

Ruins at Choquequirao

Adams speaks at length about the ruins, the former cities, that are just as impressive as Machu Picchu, hidden in the mountains in the surrounding areas. As of writing, and even my visits, most of these cities require a multi-day hike through the Andes, such cities as Choquequirao, Llactapata, and the lost city of the Inkas, Vilcabamba (aka Espiritu Pampa).

Ruins at Espiritu Pampa, a sister site of Machu Picchu
Ruins at Espiritu Pampa, a sister site of Machu Picchu

As much as I loved the descriptions of this book, the best part about the book was that Adams took the time to be factually accurate about the anthropology and history of the Inkas in his narrative. He references recent research instead of popular myths. In this book, Adams treks along the path that Hirum Bingham took in the early 20th century, and gives a glimpse into some of the challenges he faced, being the first American venturing into that part of the world. Adams paint a picture of words describing the hardships that he faced on the trek even with the technology and tools we have in the 21st century

If you want a good grasp of the ruins in the Machu Picchu area with a good understanding of the history and context of them, I say pick up a copy and get transported to Peru.

I know I have my itinerary picked out for the next time I go to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. I also found it interesting that Adams speaks about the lack of signage at Machu Picchu and other places that makes it difficult for tourists. He recounts that accurate information is hard to come by and knowing what is reliable or fiction takes a lot of effort. He is a man of my own thinking.