Few Americans realize how much we owe to the ancient Peruvians. Very few people appreciate that they gave us the white potato, many varieties of Indian corn, an such useful drugs as quinine and cocaine. Their civilization, which took thousands of years to develop, was marked by inventive genius, artistic ability, and a knowledge of agriculture which has never been surpassed.
Some 400 years ago, the last of the Incas were living in one of the most inaccessible parts of the Andes, the region lying between the Apurimac River and the Urubamba, two important affluents of the Amazon. Here they were shut off from that part of Peru which was under the sway of Pizarro and the Conquistadors by mighty precipices, passes three miles high, granite canyon more than a mile in depth, glaciers and tropical jungles, as well as by dangerous rapids. For 35 years they enjoyed virtual independence as their ancestors had done for centuries. They had two capitals: Vitcos and Vilcapampa, their principal residence, a magnificent sanctuary to which no Spaniards ever penetrated.
With the death of the last Inca in 1571, Vitcos was abandoned. It was a fortress on top of a mountain and inconvenient as a dwelling place. Its name was forgotten and its location obscure until we found it. The royal city of Vilcapampa was completely lost. It was a sacred shrine hidden on top of great precipices in a stupendous canyon where the secret of its existence was safely buried for three centuries under the shadow of Machu Picchu mountain. Its ruins have taken the name of the mountain because when we found them no one knew what else to call them.
–Excerpt from Preface to the First Edition of “Lost City of the Incas” by Hiram Bingham.
Although 16th century Spanish chroniclers do mention its existence and locals were there before 1911, it is undeniable that Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham brought Machu Picchu to the world’s attention that year in a National Geographic-sponsored expedition. Today, Machu Picchu is on the must-see list of most visitors traveling to Peru.
In celebration of this anniversary, Reefs to Rockies is proud to announce “Machu Picchu – 100 Years”. Travelers embarking on this seven-night itinerary will be guided by Peter Frost. Mr. Frost is a writer, photographer, expedition guide and independent scholar who has been exploring the Andes since 1971. In 2001 and 2002 he led National Geographic Society-sponsored expeditions into the remote region of Vilcabamba, exploring and excavating the previously unknown Inca and pre-Inca site of Qoriwayrachina. The discovery was featured in the National Geographic Society’s documentary, “Inca Mummies”.
Trip highlights include a private estate tour of the Incan emperor Pachacuti, an Andean festival at Ollantaytambo, Maras Salt Mines, two days at Machu Picchu, Cusco city tour, and Sacsayhuaman.
A group departure is scheduled from October 21-28, 2011, but other dates are available by request. Visit www.ReefsToRockies.com or call 303.860.6045 for more details. The detailed itinerary can be found at http://reefstorockies.com/destinations/peru/machu-picchu-100-years/.