One man goes in search of the lost cities of the Amazon in the Inca heartland.
The lost cities of South America have always exercised a powerful hold on the popular imagination. The ruins of the Incas and other pre-Colombian civilisations are scattered over thousands of miles of still largely uncharted territory, particularly in the Eastern Andes, where the mountains fall away towards the Amazon.
Twenty-five years ago, Hugh Thomson set off into the cloud-forest on foot to find a ruin that had been carelessly lost again after its initial discovery. Into his history of the Inca Empire he weaves the story of his adventures as he travelled to the most remote Inca cities. It is also the story of the great explorers in whose footsteps he followed, such as Hiram Bingham and Gene Savoy.
So entertaining and appealing is Thomson's story of his exploration of the Inca empire that readers will wish they could take off and follow in his footsteps. The British documentary filmmaker relates his travels 20 years ago deep into the Inca empire, through the high Peruvian Andes and Bolivia, and a second trip 17 years later, to the last Inca stronghold in the Amazon basin. In his early 20s, he launched a successful expedition to find the lost Inca city of Llactapata. Believing that "what really was important was understanding what the ruin was about," Thomson began a decades-long study of Inca history and culture. The marriage of his intellectual and physical exploration is at the center of this compelling book. Thomson is a terrific storyteller, his skills apparent in both his recreation of the violent destruction of the Incas by the Spanish and his description of the ruins he discovers, the people he meets along the way, and the hardships and pleasures of traveling the abandoned Inca highways. Erudite and charming, Thomson is capable of comparing a carved Inca rock to the work of Henry Moore, and equally capable of conveying the satisfying incongruity of being on a crowded bus in the Peruvian outback, listening to a Spanish song titled "La Cosita," the little thing the story of Lorena and Wayne Bobbitt. Thomson's wit, eye for detail and reverence for humanity set him apart from the average travel-adventure writer he is as good a companion as a traveler could hope for. 45 b&w photos, 3 maps.