Inca Trail History
The Incan civilization was an ancient culture who rained over the 15th century. They built wide reaching and elaborate pathways to connect their empire like veins to a heart. They were used as transportation routes, pilgrimages to sacred sites and to allow for more expansion and conquest. The empire touched almost every country as we know it today within South America; colonizing the entire west coast and branching out North from Peru to reach Ecuador, along the Southern Andes into modern day Chile and Argentina and spreading into the Brazilian Rainforest.
The world-famous 4-day classic Inca Trek is a part of the Incan empires extensive network of roads which spanned over 40,000km. The footpaths towards the mysterious ancient city of Machu Picchu which are hiked every day is attributed the name Qhapaq Ñan, meaning “Royal Road.” These roads were not constructed of that of European civilisations at the time. The Inca roads are infamous for their large blocks of granite and serpentine stone with sharp and wide inclines. It is believed one reason is due to the altitude; not only the need to ascend into high places but the people and the animals of transport where accustomed to the altitude and elevations.
The sites along the Inca trail have significance within different aspects of the culture. All though most have terraces and spaces for agricultural purposes there were also settlements intended for travellers on pilgrimage such as Runkurakay and sites of astrological, spiritual and sacred importance where rituals and ceremonies were conducted such as Sayacmarca (place you can’t enter).
The Spanish Invasion
In 1832 the Spanish invaded Peru, to protect the city of Machu Picchu the last Inca ordered that 8 miles of the Incan path that lead into the city was destroyed, the outskirts around that area barricaded and sites along the route destroyed. The Incas fled the city and it became known as ‘the lost city’; the Spanish never found it. However, they did find many other settlements along the route and destroyed them, which is why many of the sites leading to city are now ruins whereas Machu Picchu is whole and scathed only by time and nature. To protect the trail leading to this great monument only 500 permits are allocated each day to hike the Inca trail.