The Inca’s hegemony may not have lasted more than 150 years but in this relatively small period of time, they were able to create the largest empire ever known on the American Continent. Stretching from what nowadays is Colombia all the way to Argentina and Chile, traces have been found of a well-established Inca presence. In order to keep a territory of almost half of the continent, the Inca were aware of the fact that communication was paramount. In order to facilitate this communication between the different corners of this vast empire, the Inca started a huge task of creating thousands of kilometers of “Inca Trails”. These trails sometimes up to 5 meters broad and often cutting through the toughest parts of the rough Andean highlands, connected the Tawantinsuyu (the four connected regions in Quechua) and was so effective that fresh fish from the sea was brought to Cusco on a daily basis, even though located almost 500km from Cusco. These ancient roads (or the remains of them) can still be found all over Peru but the best preserved ones can be found around Cusco and Machu Picchu. It is here that the famous “Inca Trail” runs from the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the lost city of the Incas; Machu Picchu. This 4 day hike runs over the original Inca paths just as the Incas designed them and is the only way to get to Machu Picchu directly by foot (through the sun gate).
This hike is very popular and the region around Machu Picchu has been well explored from the day of its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Therefore the surprise was immense when only last week a group of archeologists and Inca Trail guides discovered a new part of the immense network of Inca Trails connecting Machu Picchu with Cusco and the rest of the Tawantinsuyu. This recently discovered stretch of Inca Trail is about 4 kilometers long and connects the Chakiqocha part of the trail with the Qantupata archeological site. The trail is another example of the amazing masonry craftsmen the Incas were. The trail at parts supports drainage channels, paved platforms and retaining walls. But the most impressive feat of the trail is without doubt a tunnel of 11 meters long, carved completely out of the mountain walls. The tunnel is broad enough for humans to cross easily and supports several steps to make access easier. About 70% of the trail was found in good condition meanwhile the other part was damaged due to landslides and vegetation.
Therefore, Fernando Astete, Director of the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park, informed that the new section of the trail would be restored by trained personnel under supervision of a team of archeologists in order to attain more knowledge about the pre-Hispanic remains. If the new part of the Inca trail would be open to the public once restoration has been complete has not been decided yet.
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