Inca Roads or Inca pathways!
For us its very important to introduce to the travelers the meaning of the Inca roads and Ancascocha trail for the Inca Empire. Also we want to clarify the real significant of this trekking path for the native Andean villagers; so you can have a better idea of the Inca roads or Inca Trails in South America in the pre-Columbian times, which will help you to understand better the idea of the alternative hiking trails to Machu Picchu, many times just called as the alternative treks to Machu Picchu, or with the name of alternative trekking routes in the Andes.
Inca Roads System
The Incas built a stunning highly advanced network of approximately 44,000 thousand kilometers of Inca trails in South America to connect the distant corners of their great Empire, which stretched from Quito in Ecuador down to Santiago in Chile and on the eastern side to Mendoza in Argentina. Cusco was the main capital and the heart of this huge civilization. Four royal class Inca trails started from Cusco to cover the four regions of this great Empire, going along the Andes mountain range and some of the branches arriving to the coastal places, also covering some places into the Rain-forest areas.
Many of those trails were built at the pre-Inca times, used by the Incas and in the present days are still in quite good condition after many centuries of been used, because the Incas classified those trails with different purposes, some of the trails were for an exclusive use of the upper class people in the Inca society which is the case of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, best known portion of the Inca roads system because it joined the main capital city of the Incas(Cusco) with the great religious Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
But also there will be a great number of very important trails around the most important Inca citadels, those trails in the present day are where the travelers do the trekking activities with different names as the Ancascocha trek, Lares trek, Cachicata trek, Huchuy Qosqo trek, Choquequirao trek, Ausangate trek and Salkantay trek, which usually were multipurpose trails use by the inhabitants of the Inca Empire. To have better idea of the purposes of the Inca roads or trails take a look the information bellow.
Purposes of the Inca roads
The Inca roads were used for a variety of purposes. They not only did the roads simply to provide transportation for people who were traveling to the distant points of their large Empire, the roads many times also provided military and religious purposes for the Royalty or upper class people in the society; ordinary people were not allowed to travel along these trails for private purposes without any official permission.
The Quechuas had two main idea of transportation on the Inca roads. The first function of the roads will be for the Chaskis (runners) for relaying messages throughout the empire and the second very important function of the trails will be for the llamas and alpacas to transport goods and supplies into the different regions of the Inca Empire.
The Chaskis were selected people as the fastest runners of the empire. They were estimated to run as much as 240 kilometers per day in a relay system along the Inca trails. Chaskis were spread out in all the Inca resting places called Tambos or Tampus and they were in charge of taking all the messages or news from the authorities to lightweight goods such as fish from the sea. The tambos or tampus, were used as resting places for the Chaskis as they made their journeys. Tampus were housing structures located in some strategic places to the side of the trails which provided water, supplies and shelter for the Chaskis and some other people. Because those structures also had supplies for the military that were headed into battle.
On the Inca roads was very common to find llamas and alpacas traveling in different directions. Llamas and alpacas are related to the camels, great animals for long disntance trips as the Incas did it. They can carry only 40 pounds, but the Quechuas used at least a couple hundred of llamas walking in each direction they go and that is how they supplied with goods such a large empire In South America. Even on the steep trails on the mountains llamas are the nimble animals and the best thing about them is no much erosion, so was possible to arrive with llamas to the sacred sites as Machu Picchu.
In the Inca society all the resources are property of the government, to redistribute the goods needed in different parts of the empire, it will be using the roads, trails, and bridges which also helped to the political cohesion of the vast Inca state. The function of some people will be to transport goods into the different regions of the Inca Empire and this system was the basis for trade and redistribute throughout the different region, because the different sections of the empire had different resources. The roads were used to send out the resources to other parts of the empire that were in need of them. This is one of the reasons why the Quechuas were very happy with the rulers of the Inca Empire.
These Inca roads designed with military functions were reliable and quick routes for communication with all the different parts of the Inca Empire, which needed personnel movement, and logistical support. The military trails will be used by the imperial soldiers, porters and llama caravans, along with the nobility and individuals on official duty. Not anybody or everybody in the Inca society will be allowed to use those Military trails, permits was required before others could walk along the roads.
The Incas built also Qolqas in order to supply the whole society and the military people. Qolqas were some kind of storage houses, located in some strategic points along the trails, the idea in the mind of the Quechuas is always having big event of conflicts or shortages in the Inca Empire. So the primarily use of the Qolqas were to store all the dry grains as the maize, quinoa, kiwicha, beans, dry llama meat, Dehydrated potatoes and lupines produced on the fertile farming lands, besides the army supplies and working tools. Qolqas were constructed with circular shapes 15 feet high with a lot of ventilation and nice thatched roof on the top. In our Ancascocha trek is possible o see those Qolqas of the Quechuas.
Most of the inhabitants in the Inca society were spiritual people, worshiping all the natural elements for that reason the Quechuas had religious sanctuaries as the Machu Picchu or some of those worshiping places located to the top of the tall mountains and that is when the people started making the religious roads to have access to the sacred spiritual centers. In many cases the upper class people of the Inca society did pilgrimages to the sacred places like the tall snow-capped mountains, spiritual centers, waqas and the temples, those trails were mostly paved with flat stones, considered as the sacred pilgrimage roads only for some authorized people in the society; a clear example about it was the trail linking Cusco and Machu Picchu, which in the present days is very well known as the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
What is the Ancascocha trek?
The actual Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu, in the present day is definitely one of the best alternative treks, is the continuation of the world wide known Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, many people hiking the famous 4 day trek to Machu Picchu, they never realized that the beginning point of the pilgrimage Inca Trail is in Cusco, the big capital for the Incas; so The Ancascocha trail was part of the most important religious Inca road connecting Cusco and Machu Picchu, which after the arrival of the Spaniards to the Inca Empire was not used for many centuries.
The Ancascocha trail after to go over some mountains and valleys with dramatic geography arrived to Machu Picchu, the royalty of the Inca society would hike the entire trail for religion until 1533. So this remarkable religious sacred Inca road goes all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu, not starting at the Sacred Valley or km 82 which is a different version of hike. This Ancascocha trail as the beginning part of the Royal class road is normally ignore by the hikers of the Classic Inca Trail.
The Ancascocha trail as part of the Inca Roads system still has stone paved parts visible in some sections and that is why some people named it as the hidden Inca Trail. This Inca road is offer as a hiking option for 7 day trek combining the Ancascocha trek and the classic Inca Trail, which is a great expedition to Machu Picchu almost as the Incas did it.
The actual Ancascocha trail is mainly used by the Andean people, descendants of the Quechuas from the area, who have the privilege of walking on the Inca roads as part of their daily life activity (cattle and farming), to transport goods to different communities around, where the locals are self-subsistence.
The Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu in comparison with some other alternative treks, is very isolated, clean, quiet, remote and very scenic, with only a few groups of travelers going around. The Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu also has variations depending on the number of days you want to hike or the valley you start the trek, by now Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the best alternative treks to Inca Trail. Top Peru Trips invites you to take the Ancascocha trek to Machu Picchu and explore this unique paradise in the proximity of legendary lost City of the Incas.