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The “Inka Trail” refers to the approximately 25,000 km to 30,000 km (15,500 - 18,500 miles) network of roads built by the Inkas over a period of 100 years and whose connecting, main and side streets connected all strategically important locations of the empire like a spider web. One of the major roads led from Cusco over the Andes to Pasto in Colombia. The stones used to make the road surface were worked individually by hand. Often, walls were added to ensure the stability of the road or to protect against flooding.
The term “Inka Trail” (Spanish “camino del Inka”) is now used to refer to one of the most famous roads of South America, namely the path from Cuzco (the former capital of the Inkas) to Machu Picchu.
Juan Núñez del Prado once talked about how he covered this route as a fit man in his forties, along with his friend Don Mariano Apaza, and how it took them three whole days because Juan was so slow – by himself, Don Mariano mastered the same distance in one day.
Since the Andean Indians still live under similar conditions to those that prevailed during the time of the Inkan empire, they have special techniques that help them to quickly cover long distances under these difficult conditions. The big problem for Juan on the Inka Trail was not his heavy baggage but rather the 2,000 meter (6,500 ft) difference in altitude that had to be overcome: from about 1,500 m (4,900 ft) up to about 3,500 m (11,500 ft).
Ivan Núñez del Prado also reported that he often walked the Inka Trail in his twenties with friends as well as with groups from around the world. At one time, he was in such good shape that he was able to keep up with the native Indians who are often hired to carry luggage and equipment, despite carrying his outdoor equipment.
Those who participate in the Hatun Karpay, the spiritual journey of the Inkas in Peru, will explore a small segment of the Inka Trail themselves and be able to marvel at its beauty.