Machu Picchu: Cameron Diaz, Susan Sarandon, Che Guevara and Hiram Who?

Published: 20th March 2011
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Machu Picchu is a wonderful holiday destination; even for revolutionaries, Hollywood movie stars and kings. Here are five celebrities, (old and new) that have made Machu Picchu part of their Peru travel plans.

Hiram Bingham

Made a celebrity by his status as the first westerner to visit Machu Picchu. He now has a train, a school and a hotel named after him. Although not an archaeologist, Bingham was an explorer and visited the Andes with the Yale Peruvian Expedition in 1911. On July 24, Melchor Arteaga led Bingham to Machu Picchu, then a site forgotten by all but a couple of locals. Though not a celebrity at the time, It was Hiram Bingham who turned Machu Picchu the star among the attractions of South America.

Che Guevara

As viewers of the movie "The Motorcycle Diaries" will know, Machu Picchu was visited by Ernesto "Che" Guevara; Cuban revolutionary and Latin American hero. In 1951 Ernesto began an 8000 kilometer tour of South America on a motorcycle with his close friend Alberto Granado lasting 9 months.

Ernesto passed through Machu Picchu where he was strongly affected by the extreme poverty in remote rural areas where peasant farmers worked for wealthy landowners on small plots of land. The trip had a profound impact on his perception of Latin America and led him into a revolutionary perspective that defined how he lived and died.

The King and Queen of Spain

In the 1980's Machu Picchu welcomed a visit from the King and Queen of Spain. In order to make space for a helicopter landing site, a large rock obelisk was moved out of position. The King and Queen ceremoniously arrived...and left again within the hour. When workers tried to replace the rock, they found it impossible to match the original alignment. Oops.

Susan Sarandon

Due to heavy flooding in January 2010, access to Machu Picchu was destroyed and the site was closed for a couple of months while reconstruction work was underway. When the red ribbon was put up for the grand re-opening of the site, who should be given the scissors, but Susan Sarandon! The Hollywood actress was flown in to face a wall of reporters and paparazzi. Machu Picchu reopened its gates and soon visitors were enjoying Machu Picchu again.

Denise Van Outen

More well known for her glamorous lifestyle, UK celebrity Denise Van Outen was all over the UK press in September 2010 when she did a trek to Machu Picchu to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Care. She was joined on the trek by six ladies diagnosed with the disease, Fearne Cotton and a film crew.

The media said that they did the famous Inca Trail, but they actually did a trek to another location near the Sacred Valley, Lares. Viewers were none the wiser however, as the location was not too far from Machu Picchu with equally breath-taking scenery and 4000m mountain passes.

Other famous people who have chosen a Machu Picchu holiday

Cameron Diaz made quite a splash when she came to Cusco for her vacation and hung out in the Irish pub. Leonardo di Caprio and his then girlfriend Giselle Bundchen said that Machu Picchu was one of the most beautiful places he had been… 'It's magic'. Bill Gates visited Machu Picchu with his body guards, and Lucy Liu visited while in Peru as an ambassador for UNICEF on a campaign promoting the rights of the child. All stated how much they loved the Inca site.

Do you know of any other famous visitors to Machu Picchu? What was the result of their visit?


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