Tierras Vivas
A Whole World of Experience
+51 984 004 472

Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu

Home / Travel Blog / Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu

100 years ago, in Peru, a tall guy who was a professor of history at Yale University left his camp in a valley northwest of Cusco, and crossed the jungle between the clouds to reach a mountain range more than 2,200 meters above the sea level. There, on the thunderous Urubamba River, he found an ancient stone citadel: sculpted terraces and tombs, granite buildings and polished walls covered by centuries of vines and vegetation.


Hiram Bingham had met the ruins of Machu Picchu, which he believed was the lost city of the Incas. Machu Picchu could be the most important ruins ever discovered in South America since the time of the Spanish conquest, he wrote in a National Geographic issue of 1913. 


Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 19, 1875. It is he who after an expedition uncovered the citadel of Machu Picchu. The American archaeologist and political scholar began the scientific investigation of Machu Picchu Andes, in the ancient territory occupied by the Incas, in a remote area of the Peruvian Andes. However, it is known that Hiram Bingham could have arrived in Machu Picchu after the German adventurer Augusto Berns, who, according to some studies, arrived in the lost city of the Incas in 1867. However, it was Bingham and his work The lost city of the Incas who made the city of Machu Picchu known to the world. 


How Hiram Bingham found the Lost city of the Incas

In order to become famous as quickly as possible, the American Hiram Bingham III decided to become an archaeologist. In July 1911 he came across the ruins of the mysterious Inca city of Machu Picchu in the highlands of Peru. Then the treasure hunt began.


The best-known contemporary archaeologist is undoubtedly Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Professor of Archeology at Marshall College in Connecticut. However, the inventors of this cinematic superstar, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, were able to draw on famous role models when modeling "Indy", although it is not entirely clear whose character triumphed. One is the Asia traveler Langdon Warner, the other the South America explorer Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956). On July 24, 1911, he impressively demonstrated how he pursued archeology when he came across ruins from the Inca period in the Andes: Machu Picchu.


Finally, in 1911, a proper expedition was to help its leader achieve an international breakthrough. He found a benevolent sponsor in the oil millionaire Edward S. Harkness, who was more interested in geographical discoveries than historical ones.


That is why the first big find later turned out to be a non-starter. Human bones, which came to light not far from the ancient Inca metropolis of Cusco in Peru, under traces of a supposedly extinct species of bison, Bingham explained to evidence of "Homo Americanus", an unknown human species that arrived in New Zealand long before the first settlers from Asia world had come. However, it later came out that the human bones had only ended up with numerous remains of cattle in a waste pit that had been dug by the Spaniards.


Before the truth came out, big media coverage persuaded Bingham to try his luck at archaeological discoveries. His destination was Willka Pampa (Vilcabamba), the last residence of the Inca rulers after the conquest of their heartland by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1531. Traveling through the rugged highlands, Bingham was killed by the Indian Melchor Arteage on July 24, 1911 on a ancient Inca trail to a site of ruins called Machu Picchu in Spanish accounts.


Bingham was not very enthusiastic, but moved on with his companions. In fact, he discovered ruins that later turned out to be from Willka Pampa. Another highlight of the expedition was to be the first ascent of a six-thousander in the Andes, but Bingham had to realize when he got to the top that he had climbed the wrong peak. Only on the way back did he think of the ruins of Machu Picchu, which were not very representative but were at least a discovery. He himself refrained from a new visit, but sent his people on the arduous ascent. They cleared the area of bushes and trees, then they went home.


A year later, Bingham leads another expedition to Peru. This time photographic documentation of Machu Picchu was recorded. After posing for the photographs for two weeks, he left the archaeological investigation to his people. This had little to do with systematic layer analysis, but served to collect impressive finds. After all, a necropolis was discovered. The contents of the graves made headlines: 85 percent of the skeletons were attributed to women, only 15 to men


Rediscovery of Machu Picchu 

On July 23, 1911, the expedition of Hiram Bingham arrives near the citadel of Machu Picchu. The weather conditions were quite unfavorable, so they sought accommodation in the homes of some farmers who lived very close to the area, in this place, the farmer Melchor Arteaga tells the American explorer, about the existence of the ruins of an ancient city of stone, and accept the sum of a silver dollar to drive it to that place.


On July 24, and despite the bad weather, Bingham, the peasant and a representative of the Peruvian government, ventured to cross the mighty Vilcanota River and explore Machu Picchu


Bingham, the peasant and a representative of the Peruvian government were in spite of the bad weather, gray clouds and torrential tropical rains. The other members of the team preferred to take shelter in the place. The teacher and the two companions had to cross the wild Vilcanota river through a weak bridge of trunks, and then continue walking to Machu Picchu through approximately 700 meters of a steep mountain of dense vegetation. Halfway there they met with peasant children who lived nearby, they agreed to guide the 3 men because they knew the territory very well. They climbed for hours until finally their perseverance was rewarded. He had before his eyes the strength of the secret mountain, which was used as a refuge against Spanish rule in the sixteenth century. 


On July 24, 1911 Hiram Bingham discovers the Citadel of Machu Picchu. The expedition owed its success largely to the firmness and courage of Bingham. That he continued his expedition putting his life many times at risk to do it. There he found numerous masonry remains and was particularly shocked by the similarity of one of the structures in the Temple of the Sun in the imperial city of Cusco.  


In 1912 Bingham led the expedition that excavated Machu Picchu, and returned there in 1915. He convinced himself that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba, and it was not until the 1950s that his claim was seriously debated. Subsequent explorations of Bingham, revealed important archaeological groups such as Vitcos and Espiritu Pampa. A larger ruin excavated in 1964 by the American archaeologist Gene Savoy, proved to be a more likely site for Vilcabamba. 


The fame of Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu 

After Bingham declared to Machu Picchu the lost city of the Incas, the news spread quickly, consolidating and popularizing the reputation of Bingham Machu Picchu, showing the city as a place of important history and mystery of antiquity. 

Bingham's reputation as the Machu Picchu discovered also grew. 


The return route that takes tourists by bus to the old city is now called Hiram Bingham Highway, as is a luxury train Machu Picchu that takes wealthy visitors through a Machu Picchu train tour from the city of Cusco to Aguas Calientes (city of Machu Picchu). 


Even the fictional character Indiana Jones is supposed based on Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu and his book The Lost City of the Incas, published in 1948, it was a bestseller (and still is a great read).

 Luxury train to Machu PicchuLuxury train to Machu Picchu 'Hiram Bingham'

Discover and visit Machu Picchu Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.


When is the best time to hike to Machu Picchu?

The best season is to do it in the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes. 

Request information

Travel New Posts


Who built Machu Picchu?

31 January 2023
The studies agree that the main responsible for the Inca expansion was Emperor Pachacutec, who built Machu Picchu in the middle of the 15th century...

+ More information +


Inca Trail: Private and Group Services

30 January 2023
Inca Trail Private vs group tours, What is the difference between them? Inca Trail group service is designed for those trekkers who want to hike to...

+ More information +


Cusco Vacation this 2023

26 January 2023
Book your best vacation to Cusco at the best price. We have all the all-inclusive vacation packages to Cusco this 2023. Call us Now 51 84 226547

+ More information +

Best Peru Tours