Alumni Travel Program Peru

Alumni spent eight days immersed in the archaeological, astronomical, mystical and culinary world of Peru, as part of the second trip of the Punahou Alumni Travel Program.

The experience last September was a “trip of a lifetime” that exceeded expectations and created a new perspective on the country, its people, the food and spectacular landscape.

The trip loosely followed in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III, an archaeologist and Punahou alumnus from the Class of 1892, who is credited with bringing Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, to the world’s attention.

Travelers mobilized from their starting point in Lima with a delectable culinary tour of the city, complete with a ceviche and pisco sour making class, followed by a gourmet lunch at the foot of the Peruvian ruins at Huaca Pucllana. It was the first of many delicious farm-to-table meals set against a gorgeous backdrop.

Over the following days and through high altitude, trip operator Peru Eco Expeditions led the group to enchanting archaeological destinations, including Sacsayhuaman, Pisaq and Moray sites, the Maras salt mines and Ollantaytambo. Each place was breathtaking with its natural beauty and inspired awe for the engineering and agricultural prowess of the ancient Incas. The travelers saw artisan weavers and horsemen, and witnessed Andean shamans perform a centuries-old tradition of making an offering to Pachamama or Mother Earth.

The lavish Hiram Bingham Luxury Train delivered the group to the highlight of the journey and Peru’s bucket list destination – Machu Picchu. Travelers settled into the cabin, sipped cocktails and swayed to live music as they enjoyed the scenic four-hour ride down the Andes Mountains.

The spectacular Lost City of the Incas and UNESCO World Heritage site in a cloud forest did not disappoint with its stunning views, mystical tales and intricate stone work. The group savored a final meal together at San Francisco Church and Catacombs. “Every day was a home run, some longer than others, but they were all very big home runs, and they came in perfect order,” said two-time Punahou Alumni Travel Program trip veteran Scott Gier ’65.

Hiram Bingham III
Machu Picchu

Riding the luxury Hiram Bingham Train to Machu Picchu and exploring the ancient Incan citadel set amid the dramatic Andes Mountains were highlights of the recent Punahou alumni trip to Peru.

The journey was all the more noteworthy considering Hiram Bingham III (1892), an archaeologist who brought Machu Picchu to the attention of the west in 1911, attended Punahou (then O‘ahu College) from 1883 to 1892. He was also the grandson of Hiram Bingham, one of the first Calvinist missionaries to step foot in the Hawaiian Islands.

Alumni who took part in the trip retraced Bingham’s steps from Cusco to The Lost City of the Incas, learning firsthand about his legendary expedition.

Although there is debate about whether Hiram Bingham III actually discovered Machu Picchu, his scientific studies undoubtedly were instrumental in introducing the world to the iconic site of the Inca Empire.

Bingham’s journey began in July 1911, when he led a Yale University archaeological expedition to find Vilcabamba, the lost city of the Incas. It was believed to be situated somewhere near Cusco in Peru, but prospects for finding it were not promising considering the dangers of crossing the Andes. Bingham, however, pursued the mission and on July 24, he was led to the ruins of Machu Picchu, where he found well-preserved stonework.

Bingham returned to Machu Picchu in 1912 and in 1915, publishing his findings on South America in various books. Later, Bingham entered politics and was elected lieutenant governor of Connecticut (1922 – 1924). He then served in the U.S. Senate, representing Connecticut, from 1924 to 1933.

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