The Inca Trail, Peru

Posted on 06. Sep, 2012 by in Fitness

What is the Inca Trail?

The majestic Inca Trail cc: incatrail054

Welcome to South America’s spectacular tourist attraction and Peru’s most famous trek – The Inca Trail. Do you know that each year, around 25,000 hikers from all over the world excitedly walk upon the amazing 26 mile (43 kilometres) stone-paved road built by the strong hands of the Incas in the ancient times?

Along the way, every hiker is sure to be mesmerized by the picturesque mountain scenery with seemingly enchanted cloud forest that covers the subtropical jungle. And from within lies the remarkable ruins, tunnels and structures, very distinct of the Incas. All these stunning views lead to the even more extraordinary destination known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” that we all know as Machu Picchu, hidden in the very heart of the Cuzco jungle.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Trek cc: David and Sarah’s Adventures

There are actually three Inca trails that overlap going to Machu Picchu. Known as Mollepata, Classic and One Day , each of these Inca trails present its own trek adventures. Being physically fit for long range hiking is a must!

A bit of Inca Trail history

At the heights of Inca Trail cc: incatrail523

The Inca Trail actually refers to a network of trails. It is connected to the extensive Inca system of trails that is over 23,000 kilometres. This covers the Tahuantinsuyo Empire to the centre of Chile and north of Argentina. The Tahuantinsuyo Empire literally means four regions, it consists of Colombia, the west of Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

According to a Peruvian historian, the Inca Trail was built so that the Inca leader could quickly mobilize his army through the region. It is also believed to be used as a pilgrimage route of the Inca (Emperor) in the 15 th century to honour the mountains and peaks of the route.

How the Inca Trail was discovered

Inca Trail in a close view cc: Stanley Zimney

It was in 1911 when Hiram Bingham, an American historian who worked as a lecturer at Yale University, announced the discovery of Machu Picchu. He then began his archaeological studies and surveys within the area. He referred to the complex as “The Lost City of the Incas” and also used this as the title of his first book. Bingham continued with more trips and did a lot of excavations in the area until he found the trail in 1915. He collected several artifacts which he brought to Yale. From these, he authored several books and articles about how Machu Picchu was discovered.

The complex that Bingham discovered received prestigious publicity when the National Geographic Society published their entire April 1913 issue solely dedicated to Machu Picchu. While the Inca Trail itself was traced and explored further in 1942 through the Viking Expedition with Paul Fejos.

It was only in 1981 when the Peru government recognized around 326km 2 area surrounding Machu Picchu as a “Historical Sanctuary”. The sanctuary included not only the ruins but also the diversity of wildlife in the Peruvian Yungas and Central Andean wet puna ecoregions which adjoin Machu Picchu.

Afterwards, UNESCO assigned the Macchu Picchu as a World Heritage Site in 1983. This title described the place as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization”.

From then on, the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu gained more fame. The trail was included in the 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world as nominated by the World Monuments Fund also because of the environmental issues that have occurred when tourism started booming within the area.

Steps to the Inca Trail cc: INCA TRAIL768

Exploring the Inca Trail in Peru lets you appreciate more of the remarkable stories of the South American history, and gives you a glimpse on how the Incas built amazing structures in the midst of mountains and forests during the pre-industrial age. Just the thought of it is indeed mind-blowing.

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One Response to “The Inca Trail, Peru”

  1. Oh my gosh… I would love to trek my way through The Inca Trail! I may just need to add that one to my bucket list :)

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