Naked ramblings

by on 21st March, 2014

Naked Ramblings

Security is being stepped up at Machu Picchu – to prevent a rise in streaking tourists at the World Heritage site.

Andean Trails’ Tom recalls his own Scottish naked winter ramble of a decade ago in his quest to raise money for charity. Have you ever met a naked rambler? Or stripped off at a famous site? Is it morally unjustifiable?

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Tom writes:

“I needed a novel way to raise GBP 3,000 for the Farm Africa charity climb of Kilimanjaro, monies going to help sustainable farming across the continent.

I was studying a map for a hill walk and there, near Braemar, was a hill called Naked Tam.

It hit me – walk up Naked Tam, naked (naked Tom on naked Tam, perfect!), take photos, sell them as postcards for a fiver, hit the fundraising target.


Taking orders

To make my deadline, I had to do the walk in January – during the shooting season.  It was bracing at 500m above sea level and, being close to the Cairngorms, it was blowing a houllie and snow patches abounded.

I’d taken pose orders and was one minute performing ‘The Thinker’ the next mocking the Athena bum exposed shot the next lounging around and protecting my modesty with a Thermos flask.

Tasteful and artistic, my friend and photographer was so enthused by the whole project that she stripped and danced around as free as a forest bear too.

The end results were marvelous (I thought) although some punters did complain that the cold affected the end shot.

While every shot brought fear of a slug entering my exposed white skin, and possible police station explanations, being in the buff in such a buffeting wind made me feel as free as a seed in a storm.



A few months later and I considered my walk pioneering. In 2003-4 Stephen Gough walked the length of the UK in the nude. His second attempt two years later was punctuated by many spells behind bars as police and public clamped down on his crusade to make public nudity more acceptable.

Seeing these naked people at Machu Picchu brought it all back. Yet I’ve not walked naked in South America, or thought about getting naked on the Inca Trail or at Machu Picchu. Or on the Ice Cap. Or Aconcagua.

It’s hard for me to align myself with Cusco’s director of culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, when he says the security was being ramped up to “avoid these unfortunate events that threaten cultural heritage,”.

I can’t see how cultural heritage is under threat, and don’t see that the ruins will be overrun by thousands of nude tourists. And so what if a few folk in high jinks wobble around in their natural state?


Time and a place

This is not to say I advocate folk wandering in populated areas with it all swinging around, and it’s not a crusade.

But I was hiking naked in a remote area, on a non-descript hill on a Tuesday afternoon in February where the chances of encountering people were as close to nought as possible. I wouldn’t climb Ben Nevis naked, for example, and my natural instinct on seeing ‘textiles’ (the nickname for those that wear clothes I believe) would’ve been to cover up to save their possible modesty, and possibly my own.

We already see that people that like being nude get sent to segregated places to be allowed to ‘enjoy’ the freedom of their nakedness – beaches, resorts and so on. A fleeting bit of exhibitionism and individuality is to be applauded I say, albeit that getting your kit off is hardly pushing artistic boundaries.

Maybe these naked Machu Picchu tourists are seen as reducing a sacred site to the bawdy rowdiness of a stag party at a rugger match, but such flash mobs seems to raise as many cheers as it does zipped up brows. Whose is the moral majority? I don’t see nude Inca Trails as a growth market.


All in a good cause

But that misses the point. I can on occasion be coy about being naked in public now, yet when I do it, it does feel…great. Machu Picchu is great. Naked is great. Great!

I raised more than GBP 1,200 selling my naked postcards to people. Fireman, nurses and The Women’s Institute (WI) have all raised many tens of thousands of pounds more for good causes by selling calendars with its members posing naked.

Maybe the answer is for us all, and especially Ricardo Ruiz Caro, to try it, understand and appreciate our natural state, be it at home, a hill or a calendar, while raising money for good causes and giving the occasional chuckle.”

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