The Incas stood out for their engineering works and especially for the road network. Roads were crucial to Pachacutec´s program of unification. Under his reign alone, the Incas constructed some 2,500 miles (4,000 km) of tightly packed stone roads, some scaling heights of more than 16,500 ft. (5,000 m). This impressive Cápac Ñan network of roads, about 3 ft (1m) wide, connected all four regions of the empire, running from Quito in Ecuador, past Santiago in Chile and La Paz in Bolivia to Tucuman in Argentina. But, who used the Inca trail?
Who used the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is part of an extensive system of Inca roads, over 23,000 kilometers that integrated the Empire of Tahuantinsuyo (meaning “four parts of the world”) this road covered Colombia, western Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and reached the center of Chile and the north of Argentina. These roads were usually found on the coast or in the mountains but in some cases they were located on the edge of the tropical forest.
Several of the roads that are currently observed in the Andean area occupied by the Tahuantinsuyo had a pre-Inca origin, being built by highly complex political entities such as Tiahuanaco or Wari; other minor roads, on the other hand, were built by small ethnic groups that tried to unite cult centers or regional temples. Such is the case of the road built between the temple of Pachacamac (facing the sea) and the «apu» Pariacaca, snowy located at more than 5700 meters above sea level.
The Inca Trail (or Qhapaq Ñan – which refers to the road network) was undoubtedly one of the wonders of the Tahuantinsuyo, according to the Peruvian historian, José Antonio del Busto the army of the Inka Huayna Capac were who used the Inca Trail to mobilize quickly.
When the Incas began to conquer the rest of the peoples of South America, it is from that moment that the road networks increased to cover an area that possibly reached 60,000 kilometers. The beginning of these great road works comprised three basic elements: the roads and edges of roads, bridges and deposits (tambos), was carried out by express order of the Inca Pachacútek who saw the need to build roads with the aim of maintain control over the annexed territories. same that was continued by his successors.
It was a system of roads of enormous distances, that linked the important cities of the coast and of the mountain range. It was structured on the basis of two longitudinal axes: the cordilleran sector and the coastal plain. Qhapaq Ñan (in Quechua language: King’s way) The Inca Trail, built entirely by hand, is a true work of engineering. This network of Inca roads is one of the most extraordinary engineering works in the world.39,000km survive to this day, uniting hundreds of communities across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Incredibly, it was built entirely by hand, without iron or transport with wheels. the sixteenth century had helped transform a small kingdom into the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere.
It is also interesting to note that the Incas were a totally rigid society. Although they moved large masses of people around their territory for their state projects (mit’a) and repopulation, once they found the place, they no longer moved. The royal roads were reserved for trips of people who belonged to royalty.