My first and still (for now) favorite way to virtually visit Machu Picchu in Peru was via the free Holotour app for Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Not only was there the ability to look around way beyond a 360° photo, but there were also objects to inspect, moving scenes (including people), and overlays with educational details. It remains to this day a high bar. Perhaps due to some prohibitive licensing (I’ve never been able to get anything but a “no” from the developers), they never had any interest in updating it or bringing it to other VR platforms. This is an enormous loss for everyone as it was an absolutely excellent travel/culture experience.
For those without a Windows Mixed Reality headset, there’s also National Geographic Explore VR, although it’s not a free app. There, you get a few different vantage points and some nice overlays to see how it appeared historically. It’s a nice app, and like Holotour, includes a few other locations, but neither are really designed for pure immersion.
Now, the same folks who brought you “Get Lost in Nature with Luke” (Lost Eagle) are putting the finishing touches on a new VR experience that includes Peru with more locations and more modern location scanning. My initial sneak peek has me incredibly excited about it.
Seizing an opportunity
Back in 2021, when many borders were closed and tourist destinations empty, Lost Eagle saw an opportunity and started collaborating with a Peruvian team on the ground. After over a year of work, they finally met in person, imaged even more locations, and even went on a four-day hike deep into the wilderness to capture hidden Incan wonders.
According to their press release, their new experience will be more than just a scan of Machu Picchu. They’ve also scanned other sites in Peru and around the world and have plans for even more. Right now, they’re hard at work preparing them for VR and adding features like guided tours from locals.
Altogether, they’ve captured:
- Machu Picchu (the one and only!)
- Huayna Picchu (the fort on the mountain behind Machu Picchu)
- Sacsayhuaman (Incan citadel outside of Cusco)
- Choquequirao (the remote hidden Incan site)
They hope to be releasing by the end of the year and will initially target App Lab with a later release to the full store. We’ll make another announcement when it’s released, and hopefully have it reviewed quickly. I suspect they will be quite successful with what I’ve seen so far.
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