Vilcabamba - Peru
The name - The place - The history - The stories - The facts

Tony Morrison writes

Late in 1964 I was the film-maker in a small party chasing a news story. On August 9th the world's press agencies carried a report saying the last stronghold of the famed Inca royal line had been discovered. We felt we on a a journey of discovery. For four hundred years few Europeans had been that way let alone one with a movie camera. After a week of heavy walking and a long descent into dense ,frequently rain soaked montane-forest we reached the ruins of the Inca settlement complete with blocks of cut stone - straight walls- terracing - stone fountains - a small slab bridge and a Peruvian coffee farmer who had been there for over fifty years and who was totally bemused by all the excitement

We open this series with a map , two stories by Nicholas Asheshov and photos of Espirítu Pampa taken in 1964 plus some views about Machu Picchu

The Vilcabamba cordillera / range of the Andes Mountains sits between two great rivers, the Urubamba and the Apurimac. Both rivers are Amazon tributaries and on maps their names change along their courses according to centuries old local lore. This map accompanied numerous reports published in the Peruvian Times in the 1960s...


1963 Nicholas Asheshov was exploring and reporting for the Peruvian Times. One of Nick's great achievements of the year was to make the first recorded ascent of the Pichari river and reach the interior of the northern zone of the Vilcabamba cordillera. The Pichari flows into the Apurimac river a short distance below the settlement of Luisiana and Nick was chasing a a National Geographic Society expedition that set out to explore the unexplored heights of the Vilcabamba mountains.

While Nick went in on foot the NGS team used a small aircraft and parachutes to reach the rain dden divide between the two main rivers...


Machu Picchu 1961 The last stronghold of the Incas has featured in dozens of stories and perhaps the best known is Hiram Bingham's 1911'discovery' of Machu Picchu.


One of the first TV films of Machu Picchu - 1961 VIDEO

Machu Picchu 1964 - Mark Howell one of the founders of Nonesuch Expedition realised that mass tourism was inevitable and was a of little benefit to the toursists most of whom had no serious interest in what they saw.

Mark wrote a feature for the Bristol Evening Post, England - The tourists are in action now in the City of the Incas 1964


Machu Picchu 2014 The National Geographic Magazine chose Machu Picchu as 'the number one place to visit in 2015'

In sheer numbers the Machu Picchu legend is now part of the local mythology and it draws thousands visitors every day. Recently there is a plan to allocate tickets on a morning and afternoon system to permit more visitors to visit each day


Less well known is another Inca settlement, Espirítu Pampa in a remote heavily forested part of the Vilcabamba range. The place was visited by Bingham in the year he reached Machu Picchu but it never received the acclaim

1964 an American mystic and explorer, Gene Savoy reached Espirítu Pampa and cleared some of the ruins. In August, Savoy announced to the world that he had discovered the true Lost City check on the report Tony Morrison and Mark Howell with two colleagues, John von Trapp and Hugo Echegueray trekked to the site and recorded what they found. Tony and Mark were film-making for the BBC and here are some of the 'stills' ..


2013 Terrorists As 2013 began reports were circulationg of a small band of armed terrorists active in the heart of Vilcabamba and Espiritu Pampa was 'off limits' to visitors because of the threat. Nick Asheshov with over fifty years experience of the region looks at the history of conflict from the Spanish oppressionn of the Inca to modern day political insurgency. Nick is no newcomer to the story as he made his first journey to Machu Picchu back in the 1960's when he went to the Vilcabamba to interview guerillas for the Peruvian Times. See Nick talking of that experience in his interviiew with Marion MorrIson.

Myth and Reality Slug it Out in the Glorious Vilcabamba was wriitten by Nicholas Asheshov for the Lima news and social magazine Caretas


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