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The history of the Inca Trail

LetsGoPeru, Peru, Luxury travel, travel, tour, Luxury Hiran Bingham to Machu Picchu, train

LetsGoPeru, Peru, Luxury travel, travel, tour, Luxury Hiran Bingham to Machu Picchu, train

Colca Canyon: the best place to see Condors in Peru

Are you interested in Inca history and all that it means to South America? Well the history on Inca trail is very interesting indeed. The Inca´s rose to power quickly and were at the height of their reign when the Spanish arrived in the 15th Century. The Spanish with their horses, guns and European diseases quickly wiped out the Inca population hence destroying the great Inca Empire. Every year, thousands of people come from all over the world to take the  Inca Trail tours, following the path of the ancient Inca´s. The Inca Trail is only a small section of a far greater network from which we only know a small part. It is only a small part of an extensive Inca system of trails consisting of more than 23000 kilometers that joined the Tahuantinsuyo Empire (which means the four regions of the Inca Empire) and stretched from Colombia, west Brazil, Ecuador and Peru to Bolivia. Some parts of Chile and Argentina were also included. The trails are said to mainly concentrate on the coast but do stretch to the mountains and even to the edge of the jungle. It is said that the Inca Huayna Capac extended the network of trails to easily deploy his grand army, and according to many historians, the trails that connected the Tahuantinsuyo was one of the empire’s greatest achievements.

The Inca road system was such a sophisticated design, that it is  still held to great esteem today. Thousands of tourists walking the Inca trail every year to Machu Picchu for its beautiful terrain, without ever understanding the historical significance of the road system that they’re walking on.
Built through a cloud forest, Andes mountains ranges and valleys all through Peru, the systems stretches for thousands of miles ending at the famous Machu Picchu. Many believe that the Inca Empire only lasted 100 years, but historians have hypothesized that  it is much more likely that its history stretches back much further. This was at the beginning of the last century when the Inca Empire was expanding, before the Spanish arrived and put a stop to the expansion. It is thought that during those 100 years, the section of the trail that we know today was constructed, but it is also believed that the Incas built this trail on top of an existing trail that was built thousands of years earlier, the Inca´s enhanced the trail with stones and expanded it with more connecting trails.

In Inca times, Chasquis; specialized runners who were dispatched from Cusco and Machu Picchu carrying important messages back and forth, used the paths. These runners could run the trail in one day; the trail consists of thousands of stairs at high altitudes making this a magnificent feat of human creation. These messengers were greatly regarded by the Inca Authorities for the work they carried out on a daily basis.

The roads vary in size in some places and on the flat plains, the roads are eight meters wide, but in the mountains where it’s more difficult the paths are only around a meter wide. At the time, the trails were  built to be used by men only, due to the harsh conditions of the trail. When the Spanish arrived, they found the roads useless as there horses fell on the stairs. When the Spanish arrived into Cusco, they commented on the fine constructions of the trails saying never before had they seen such construction, such perfection and finish.

It is also interesting to note that the Inca´s never adopted the European road building of zigzagging the path up a steep mountainside, opting only for steep steps saving themselves time in road construction. The Inca´s also used the llama to transport goods from one city to another. The Llama was a very purposeful animal, if not used for transport, they could use their meat to eat, their dung  for fuel and the wool for clothing.

When the Inca Huayna Capac was expanding the empire, he ordered the construction of a road from Cusco to Quito, this road was constructed through the mountains over rivers and is said to be a marvel of a sight.

Part of the original Inca Trail still exists today and we know it as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In 1911, Yale professor Hiram Bingham returned to Peru to explore the area in the hopes of finding the lost Inca Capital. He studied the Spanish chronicles and heard of a lost city in the jungle, but no one in Cusco had ever heard of such a place. His expedition set off in July of that year along the Urubamba River; along the way, he met a local farmer who told him about the existence of two Inca sites deep in the jungle, which were Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. The farmer was employed as a guide but after the terrain proved too difficult, the farmer sent a boy with the professor to continue the search. One day after lunch they continued to climb and came across many beautiful Inca walls covered in dense vegetation. The child continued with Hiram until they reached the ancient site of Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham has written that there were no tombs found at Machu Picchu. There were however, remains found in the caves nearby. There were thought to be those of important people within Inca society, as the common people were buried in the forest nearby. Although there were objects found at Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham writes that there was never any gold or silver found. This would mean that the site had been looted previously. However, many doubts exist around the belief that there was no gold or silver found at Machu Picchu. Given the importance of the site, experts believe it would be impossible that there would be no gold or silver. The government of Peru continues to work for the return of the items taken from Machu Picchu, to be placed in protection and preserved in the museum of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Today, be able to hike to Machu Picchu is all thanks to the mighty Inca´s. if you want to take a trip to Machu Picchu there are many ways to do so. If you want to take the Inca Trail, then the trip will be four days of exhausting but rewarding work. The other way to reach Machu Picchu is by train, there are different trains that leave and return to Cusco every day. For a Peru Machu Picchu tour book with a local travel agent today!

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