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Machu Picchu Luxury Hotel - Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge - ancient Inca citadel near Cusco, Peru

The Discovery of the Lost City of the Incas

Hiram Bingham was a North American born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He became an historian and from 1907, taught South American history and geography courses at Yale University. He was later chosen as a delegate of the USA to the first Pan-American Scientific Congress in Chile in 1908. By then, he had already begun his activities as an explorer, travelling from Caracas to Bogota on horseback, following Simon Bolivar's trail. He then followed the old colonial trade route from Buenos Aires to Lima, arriving in the Andean area in 1909. It was in this same year that he started his first exploration from Abancay towards Choquekirau, trying to find the last Incan capital city.

By that time, many theories were circulating about the possibility of finding the 'Inca Treasure', that according to myth has been taken by Manco Inca during his retreat to Wilkapampa. ('Wilka' means 'sacred' and 'pampa' means 'plain').

Back in Cuzco, Albert Giesecke a compatriot of Bingham's, had put him in touch with Braulio Polo y la Borda, owner of Mandor. This local landlord told Bingham that on the hill in front of his property were ancient constructions covered by vegetation where the cattle frequently got lost, and furthermore, he introduced Bingham to Eduardo Lizarraga, a farmland renter living in the area since the 1870’s, who had seen the buildings.

On July 23, 1911 Bingham went to Mandro along with a policeman, Sergeant Carrasco. There they found a peasant named Melchor Arteagam who told Bingham about the existence of two Incan sites named ‘Machu Picchu’ and ‘Waynapicchu’. The same gentleman was hired by Bingham to be the guide of the Incan City.

The next day after examining the field they decided to climb up the west face of the mountain. During the afternoon they arrived at another hut where they found Anacleto Alvarez and Toribio Recharte, two humble peasants who, along with their families, lived in the area and cultivated on the pre-hispanic farming terraces. After a short break, a young boy took Bingham to have his first look at the Incan buildings which were completely covered with entangled vegetation.

This was how Bingham, at 35 years of age, stumbled onto Machu Picchu - fortuitous happening that turned out to be a great discovery.


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