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The Inca Trail Adventure

The Inca Trail is a challenge like no other and many tourists travel to Peru with the dream of completing the 4 day trek on the trail ending at Machu Picchu. The trail that is marketed to tourists the world over however, is only a fraction of the system of paths which transported people, goods, and messaged across the Incan empire.

The Inca Trail which travels through the Andes, ending at Machu Picchu, while it is the most famous trail, is actually only a small part of a large system of trails which criss-crossed the Incan Empire. This empire ran through Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. The majority of these trails were located along the seaboard of South America or wound through the mountain ranges but in some cases, they reached as far as the Amazon. The Inca Trail network (or Qhapaq Г‘an) developed exponentially under the first Inca leader Huayna Capac who wanted to be able to move his army quickly between battles during a time of empirical growth. These trails remain as one of the Inca's most famous legacies.

The trails ranged in size and quality depending on their use and location. Along the coast, the trails were mostly flat and reached up to eight metres wide but throughout the Andes, they would be only a fraction of that size and ran over very steep and difficult ground. Many trails were reserved for Royals and elite members of society and peasants were obviously not allowed to travel on these. There were also "running" trails which were used by relay runners, known as Chasqui, who were highly trained and could carry messages and goods between countries in a matter of days. There is evidence which suggests that a message could travel from Quito (Ecuador) to Cusco (over 1980km) in around five days. This would mean that the runners travelled around 395km per day. Also, from Cusco messages could reach as far as Puno in around three days. As mentioned above, these runners didn't just deliver messages either, they also delivered goods and food. One of the royals favourite food was fish but Cusco certainly wasn't in a prime location to get fresh fish so once again the relay runners were used and apparently fish could be transported from the coastal region to Cusco in as little as 2 days.