Before travelling to a destination it’s always great to gain an insight into the country, whether that be through a travel guide or maybe by reading a book based on someone else’s travels or adventures in that region. Here are just a few books that you might enjoy before or after your Peru travels.
Cloud Road – A Journey Through the Inca Heartland by John Harrison
John Harrison was one of the guides and lecturers on my voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2010 and so I was excited to read “Cloud Road” when it was published later that year. The book is a travelogue based on John’s 5 month journey through the Inca Heartland, following the Camino Real or Royal Road of the Incas, built over 500 years earlier by hand. The journey took him across 1500 kilometres, half of which he travelled on foot, from Quito at the Equator to Cusco and Machu Picchu. The books tells of his adventures, the people and places he encountered on his travels and about the remote Andean villages that he passed through.
Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham
It was the American historian and explorer, Hiram Bingham who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911 and brought it to the attention of the outside world. He was in fact in search of the legendary city of Vilcabamba, but it was the preserved ruins of Machu Picchu that he came across, having travelled on foot and by mule from Cusco, through the Sacred Valley, past Ollantaytambo and on into the Urubamba gorge. This is a fascinating account of Hiram Bingham’s journey of discovery and a great introduction to Machu Picchu, one of the incredible highlights of Peru.
In the Forests of the Night by John Simpson
John Simpson is a veteran BBC Foreign Correspondent and journalist who has reported from over 120 countries including many war zones and who has interviewed many world leaders. His book “Into the Forests of the Night” is based on his 1992 explorations of Peru that takes him through the coca-growing regions of the country and describes his encounters with Shining Path terrorists, drug runners and brutal military oppressors. It illustrates some of the many problems that Peru has faced as a result of cocaine production.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
This book is the incredible and moving story of survival after a disastrous climb in the Peruvian Andes. It is a remarkable and astonishing story of strength and endurance, a gripping account of the terrifying adventure of Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates.
Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford
This is the amazing true story and account of Ed Stafford’s daring attempt to become the first man to walk the entire length of the Amazon River. This is a story of courage, determination and extreme mental and physical strength. Setting off on 2 April 2008, it took Stafford 860 days (nearly 2.5 years) to cross South America and reach the mouth of the mighty Amazon River.
Of course there is a myriad of other books about Peru that you can immerse yourself in before you explore the country for yourself. If you are interested in the myths and legends of the Incas or the history of the Incas, then maybe try “The Secret of the Incas” by William Sullivan or “The Conquest of the Incas” by John Hemming. To learn more about the history of the people and cultures of Peru, then you may enjoy “Ancient Kingdoms of Peru” by Nigel Davies. For another travelogue, try travel writer Michael Jacob’s book “Andes” that describes his journey across the Andes, through seven countries, starting in Venezuela and ending in Tierra del Fuego.