Formed under humble roots in the 12th Century, the emergence of the Inca culture grew from a small city-state centered out of Cuzco to a massive empire covering much of the west coast of South America.
During that period, the Inca civilization was an advanced and vibrant culture that was centuries ahead in mathematics, medicine, politics and architecture. They were brilliant engineers performing amazing feats of stonework, creating forts that can still be seen as the foundations of buildings today. They built roads through the mountains from Ecuador to Chile with tunnels and bridges as well as aqueducts. The Incas worshiped Gods of nature with their ruler the sun God Inti. They also believed every mountaintop was a God and held huge religious festivals, feasts and sacrifices to honor them all.
The fall of the Inca Empire was due in part to bad timing. The Spanish had followed rumors of gold and emeralds and stumbled into Inca territory. The arrival of Francisco Pizarro and his Conquistadors in 1524 found the Inca Empire split by a civil war. This war gave Pizarro the ability to play both sides against each other and allowed him to conquer much of the existing Inca territory with ease. With its wealth stripped and many of the indigenous population dead from war and disease, the Spanish had free reign and established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542. By 1573, all military resistance from the Inca had ended.
Although the Incas reign was over they left the world with a piece of history that would continue their cultural impact forever. It is believed the Incas started building Macchu Pichu around AD 1430 but abandoned it a hundred years later at the time of the Spanish conquest. Although known locally, the ruins of Machu Picchu were rediscovered in 1911 by American archaeologist Hiram Bingham and stand today as one of most treasured and mysterious ancient sites in the world. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Machu Picchu is now the draw for thousands of adventurous travellers every year.
The Inca culture still thrives today through descendants such as the Quechua and Aymara people, who enjoy sharing their traditions with curious travellers. For the ultimate adventure in history and nature – embark on a journey that retraces the steps of the ancient Inca civilization along the spectacular Inca Trail and discover the mysteries of Macchu Pichu for yourself.