From captivating stories of the Incas to modern tales of adventure and travel guides, these must-read Machu Picchu books dive deep into the ancient history, natural environment and culture of Peru, as well as the mystery and wonder of the lost civilization of the Incas. If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu, you’ll surely want to put a few of these books on your reading list.
Essential Machu Picchu Books
Lost City of the Incas | By Hiram Bingham
This first-rate adventure story by the man who brought Machu Picchu to the attention of the world is not just a gripping tale of exploration and archaeology, but also sets the scene for any visitor to the site.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu | By Mark Adams
In over his head on an arduous guided trek to Choquequirao and other remote sites, Mark Adams mixes entertaining tales of his adventures with an analysis of the rather grand Hiram Bingham in this light-hearted, “following-in-the-footsteps” account of his travels.
The Heights of Macchu Picchu | By Pablo Neruda
An indispensable contribution to 20th century poetry, Pablo Neruda’s ode to Machu Picchu celebrates the Incan civilization while abhorring that the ancient estate was built by slave labor.
Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas | Edited by Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar
Combining Hiram Bingham’s original report, archival and modern photographs and excellent chapters on recent archaeology at the site, this book vividly evokes the art, architecture, culture and society of Machu Picchu.
The Incas | By Terence D’Altroy
Featuring archival maps and photographs, this captivating book written by one of the world’s foremost experts on Incan civilization illuminates the daily lives, politics, economy and ideology of the ancient society.
The Conquest of the Incas | By John Hemming
This classic prize-winning history of the Inca struggle against the Spanish invasion weaves wide-ranging, scholarly material into a gripping narrative.
Travel Resources & Field Guides
An excellent overview of Peru’s history, culture and customs, including focused coverage of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Lima. Through colorful photos and maps, this comprehensive guide also provides essential planning resources and strategic trekking guides for the Inca Trail.
Insight Guides Peru | By Insight Guides
Panoramic in scope, this illustrated overview brings Peru to life in color photographs and vivid essays on history, archaeology and culture.
Travellers’ Wildlife Guides Peru | By David L. Pearson and Les Beletsky
This comprehensive wildlife guide includes some 500 illustrations of the birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and insects of the Amazon, Andes and Pacific Coast.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru | By James Clements and Noam Shany
An impressive and all-encompassing Peru birding guide highlighting 1,800 species through excellent artwork, bird descriptions and maps.
Machu Picchu Reading for Kids
20 Fun Facts About Machu Picchu | By Janey Levy
Heavily illustrated with color photos, maps and cutaway drawings, this fun introduction to Machu Picchu and the Incas is geared towards the youngest readers.
You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Inca Mummy! | By Colin Hynson
The hilarious illustrations and light-hearted tone, helpful hints and glossary in this popular Machu Picchu book for ages 7-10 will entice even reluctant readers to learn about the cultures and traditions of the Incas.
Lost City: The Discovery of Machu Picchu | By Ted Lewin
Caldecott Honor-winning author Ted Lewin traveled in the footsteps of the 1911 explorer for this captivating tale of Hiram Bingham and the discovery of Machu Picchu, geared for ages 9-12. With detailed watercolor illustrations of Cusco, the Urubamba Valley and Machu Picchu, it will appeal to the whole family.
Secret of the Andes | By Ann Nolan Clark, Illustrated by Jean Charlot
In this Newbery Award-winning novel for pre-teens, a native boy in Peru goes on a magical discovery of his roots, learning about Incan traditions along the way.
Other Recommended Reads…
Stone Offerings | By Mike Torrey
Photographer Mike Torrey captures the dramatic setting, solitude and intricate construction of the Inca site of Machu Picchu in 100 striking color photographs captured during summer and winter solstice.
The Last Days of the Incas | By Kim Macquarrie
A fascinating and enthralling tale about Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and his conquest of the Inca Empire.
Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness | By Peter Matthiessen
With wit, insight and style, author Peter Matthiessen recounts his odyssey to the Amazon and Andes, including Machu Picchu and Tierra del Fuego.
Eight Feet in the Andes | By Dervla Murphy
An adventurous and high-spirited tale of a mother who, together with her nine-year-old daughter and a mule, treks 1,300 miles through the Andes on the trail of the conquistadors.
Andes | By Michael Jacobs
Travel writer Michael Jacobs follows in the footsteps of Simon Bolivar, Charles Darwin and other explorers on an epic 4,300-mile journey from Venezuela to Tierra del Fuego, uncovering the secrets of a region steeped in history, science, and myth along the way.
Peru: The Cookbook | By Gaston Acurio
Celebrity chef and restaurateur, Gaston Acurio, provides a panoramic view of traditional Peruvian cooking through 500 recipes, full-color illustrations and expert information on the roots of Peruvian cuisine.
Art of the Andes: From Chavín to Inca | By Rebecca Stone-Miller
This authoritative and concisely-illustrated survey of Andean art and architecture covers not only Machu Picchu and additional Inca monuments, but also Chan Chan, Nasca and other archaeological sites and cultures.