Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip!

Peru is my favorite country in South America, & at this point, I’ve read several books about Peru, the Incas, & the Spanish Conquest ~ books that combine history with modern-day adventures to hidden ruins (one of which even inspired the Indiana Jones character)!  Reading these books not only made my time in Peru much more fascinating ~ but it helps keep Peru in my mind, long after returning home.  So whether you’re headed to Machu Picchu, Cusco, or anywhere in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, here’s my list of the top three “Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip!” 

Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

These are my three top picks for great reading about Peru! Learn who the modern-day model was for Indiana Jones…

Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip!

Reading any of these books will make your Peru travels sooo much more enjoyable, as you walk through the living history of Inca ruins ~ whether in Pisac, Sacsayhuaman, or at the mother of all Inca sites: Machu Picchu.  They’re listed in order, with the easiest (& shortest) read first

1. Turn Right at Machu Picchu, by Mark Adams

I love this book…& it even had me laughing out loud in parts (like when the author accidentally pooped on the trail head instead of in the bushes)!  Of the three books, I found this the easiest read, with short chapters that really keep it moving.  Adams goes back-and-forth in time between legendary explorer Hiram Bingham’s journey, & his own in present-day ~ with his rather gruff, Indiana Jones-like guide.  Because Adams isn’t exactly in the best shape, & isn’t exactly what you’d call an “outdoors-man,” this makes for pretty funny stuff.  If you like a fast, funny read: this is the Machu Picchu book for you. 

Perfect For: Armchair travelers who may or may not ever make it to Peru…& who like to laugh!

Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

If your travels are bringing you to Machu Picchu (or even if they’re not), Adams’ book is a hilarious must-read.

2. The White Rock, by Hugh Thompson

This is probably my favorite book on this list ~ & I’m not sure if that’s because I read it while in Peru or not…which made it that much more relevant.  Similar to Adams, Thompson takes off on an expedition into the Peruvian Andes, in search of answers about the mysteries surrounding Machu Picchu.  During the process, he & his team discover an ancient ruin called Llactapata, almost directly across from Machu Picchu, that had been hidden beneath jungle overgrowth for years.  This is a fascinating book, with lots of well-placed insights about expeditions & Inca history, set against the backdrop of a modern-day Peruvian mystery.  Highly recommended!  

Perfect For: Well-traveled, Indiana-Jones types who love a good mystery-adventure story. (This is also the book I made the most notes in, & the first one I’d re-read!)

Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip!

3. The Last Days of the Incas, by Kim MacQuarrie

This is book is the longest of the three, & the most dense, in terms of historical information ~ but MacQuarrie’s effortless writing style really brings you into the action.  Certain facts that escaped me while reading the other two books suddenly became crystal clear, as I read his book.  For example, can you guess how many Spaniards first arrived on the coast of Peru, & what the odds were against them?  Spaniards: 168.  Incas: 10 MILLION!!!?  The fact that the Spaniards ended up winning this battle is still, in some ways, inconceivable ~ & yet this book gives you the best insight as to HOW that happened. 

Perfect For: True history lovers who love a well-penned, immaculately-researched read.

Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip

 Thanks for checking out my picks for the “Best Books to Read Before a Peru Trip.”  I’ve visited Peru three times now, & Machu Picchu twice…& I enjoy it more each time I visit.  The article below details my special love for Cusco, near Machu Picchu….with lots of pictures of this special place.

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: Why Cusco is One of My Favorite Cities in the World