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7 Books About Peru: The History Behind the Landscapes

One of the most essential items for any traveler to bring on a trip abroad is a good book. Reading books about Peru helps you truly immerse yourself in its history, culture and make sense of what you’re seeing and experiencing as you travel. Not to mention it’s a great way to kill time on long trips. Here are some good books to help you get through those long, winding bus rides through the Andes:

Quick Tip: If travelling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travellers.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

By Mark Adams

Books About Peru - Turn Right at Machu Picchu

This is a great book about Peru, as it marks the centennial of Hiram Bingham’s “rediscovery” of the Incan citadel commonly known as Machu Picchu (the site was already known to locals but Bingham was the first to bring it to international attention), author Mark Adams retraces the explorer’s steps from Cusco up to the famed ruins. Along the way, Adams examines various aspects of Bingham’s life, Inca history and local custom. This is a great way to relive Hiram Bingham’s historic trek through a modern voice.

The Peru Reader

by Orin Starn, Carlos Iván Degregori, Robin Kirk

the peru reader
This book about Peru was curated specifically to educate the reader in a wide range of topics, this hefty volume contains an eclectic mixture of history, philosophy, literature, poetry and more. Spanning the whole history of Peru from pre-Inca civilizations to the 21st century, this is probably the best English-language book available for getting an all-encompassing overview of the country.

The Conquest of the Incas

by John Hemming

Books About Peru - The Conquest of the Incas
This is, quite simply, the best English-language book about Peru ever written about the final days of the Incas. Hemming paints an image of the doomed empire which is both stunning and tragic, combining meticulous research with an engaging and eloquent style. This book is essential reading for anyone planning to visit the Inca homeland.

Trail of Feathers: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru

by Tahir Shah

Books About Peru - Trail of Feathers
Obsessed with a Spanish monk’s report of Incas who could “fly like birds,” Tahir Shah set out on a journey across Peru in search of these titular “birdmen.” The result of his quest is this wonderfully weird travelogue, tracing his journey through the jungle, mountain, and desert. This book is perfect for travelers with an appreciation for mysticism and the surreal.

For information on booking a tour, comparing operators and reviewing prices we recommend to use FindLocalTrips.com a comparison website for tours and activities across South America.

Eight Feet in the Andes

by Dervla Murphy

Books About Peru - Eight Feet in the Andes
The “eight feet” of the title refers to Irish-born Dervla Murphy, her nine-year-old daughter, and a newly-purchased mule. Together, this trio makes their way from Cajamarca in the north of Peru to Cusco in the south, a journey of over 1300 miles. Their journey took place in the late 1970s, so Peru has changed a lot since the book was published; however, it’s worth reading for a glimpse of what some of the smaller mountain villages of the Andes were like at the time.

Death in the Andes

by Mario Vargas Llosa

Books About Peru - Death in the Andes
Peruvian writer and former presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa’s 11th novel is a suspenseful murder mystery set during the Maoist insurgency which ravaged the countryside during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Aside from being an interesting look into this era of history, the novel also establishes an incredible sense of place. The Andes are almost a character of their own, alive and breathing their essence into the story.

The Heights of Macchu Picchu

by Pablo Neruda

Books About Peru - The Heights of Macchu Picchu
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda composed this long-form poem after visiting the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. With complex, evocative imagery and a strong sense of spirituality throughout, this is one of Neruda’s best and most well-known poems.

Now that you’ve got some good reading material, you are all set for your trip to Peru. If you haven’t already booked your travel within the country, we suggest checking out Peru Hop, service. Peru Hop is a hop-on/hop-off style bus that travels from Lima all across southern Peru, so it’s super easy to travel at your own pace and set an itinerary that caters to your personal interests and schedule. ¡Que te diviertas!