An explorer’s encounter with the ruined city of Machu Picchu, the most famous icon of the Inca civilisation

A. When the US explorer and academic Q21 Hiram Bingham arrived in South America in 1911, he was ready for what was to be the greatest achievement of his life: the Q21 exploration of the remote hinterland to the west of Cusco, the old capital of the Inca empire in the Andes mountains of Peru. Q14 His goal was to locate the remains of a city called Vitcos, the last capital of the Inca civilisation. Cusco lies on a high plateau at an elevation of more than 3,000 metres, and Bingham’s plan was to descend from this plateau along the valley of the Urubamba river, which takes a circuitous route down to the Amazon and passes through an area of dramatic canyons and mountain ranges.

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