TdM – South America – Peru, Andean & Inca civilizations – Cuzco, Camino Inka, Pisac, Andean School

Episode 11) Peru, Andean & Inca civilizations

Cuzco, Camino Inka, Pisac, Andean SchoolFor more information,

This eleventh and last episode of the America season focuses on the Peruvian Andes and in particular on the region of Cuzco. Cuzco was the heart of the Inca civilization from around 1200 to 1532, when the Incas lost battle with the Spanish conquistadors in 1536.

The city of Cuzco and its close surroundings, less than 10 kilometers away, allow a visit to an open-air city-museum, a bit like the city of Rome in Italy which offers 2000 years of history in the detours of alleys. Traces of the Inca period are scattered everywhere and testify to this very rich period. This immersion in the city is delightful and even more exciting, visited with its inhabitants.

The Camino Inca, the Inca Trail trek, was a must on my trip. The path reopened on March 1st with great emotion from the park’s actors. These 4 days are the subject of a dedicated article on the blog . In summary, it is a very beautiful path, the Inca sites are numerous and allow a progressive understanding of the Incas’ mastery of agriculture, town planning, construction, water management,… And continues on the last day with the visit of Machu Picchu, the most famous site in Peru, grandiose, exciting and magnificent.

As an extension of Machu Picchu, the archaeological site of Pisac is worth the detour. It is very rich in Inca sites spread over 8 kilometers of an aerial path which dominates the valleys. I spent a day there of discoveries, contemplations and, also, a lot of chatting with local hikers.

Finally, I had the opportunity to be the “official photographer for a day” for the association “Assolidarité TrekkInca” which helps high-mountain schoolchildren. For the start of the school year, Juan and friends distributed school supplies. What a joyful, friendly and dancing return to school! What could be better for my last day in South America and closing these 6 months of travel?

Links to the association: and

Ahead !

As a reminder, the video is available by following this link:
or directly here (switch to fullscreen mode):

The interactive map of “Ecuador, warm”, ZOOME, you will discover the detail of the routes.

A few words about the Republic of Peru

Peru is a large country in South America. Its GDP is rather at the bottom of the scale of South American countries. The vegetation changes dramatically between the three natural areas: the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andean mountain in the center of the country and the Amazon jungle to the east. The country is experiencing an institutional crisis and was in turmoil from December to February. Elections are scheduled for April (being validated). The country has fishery resources, copper, silver, gold, iron ore, coal, etc. Tourism is an important activity, especially in Lima, in the Andes with beautiful peaks, in the region from Cuzco, Lake Titicaca, …

Theme – Link to the land: The first peoples in Peru

As a reminder, the history of the pre-Inca Andean culture is divided into two main periods. The first period, from 5000 BC . in 1500 BC , saw the peoples: Wayllabamba , Qorqa , Chawaytiri , Canchis , Manto, Torreni , Virginniyoq , Yauri and Chumbivilcas organize. The second, from 1500 BC . to 1200 AD , was populated by the Chanapata , Markavalle , Lucre, Killki and Qotakalli .

Overall, these are civilizations centered on agriculture and the worship of many gods. The main traces of these civilizations are engraved and painted on ceramics. There is no writing practice.

The Inca period begins around 1200 AD , its last emperor died in 1536 AD . This civilization has known three periods. The first so-called “classic” period is a period of almost two centuries within a perimeter of 50 to 100 kilometers from Cuzco with little impact on the first peoples. The second, during the reign of Pachacútec , the ninth and most famous Inca emperor , is an extraordinary expansion of the empire over more than 5000 kilometers. The third period announces the decline of the empire because of internal fights of the Inca nobility and the war against the conquistadors who took prisoner Atahualpa the last Inca emperor in 1536.

One of the major differences between the pre-Inca first peoples and the Incas is the political organization. The first peoples, pre-Incas, were organized in a democratic way with coalitions of peoples and the election of heads of clans, then of tribes, then of entire regions. The Incas were ruled by a nobility that left little room for any form of democracy. The Incas organized an army. They were brutal if diplomacy did not allow them to convince people to adhere to the empire. They relied on the knowledge of the first peoples, more than a hundred ethnic groups, for agricultural practices, knowledge of ceramics, architecture, terrace cultivation, irrigation, surgery, etc.

They supplemented the Andean cosmology with new practices of worshiping gods and sacrifices. Gold and silver were widely used by nobles. They gave a very important role to priests more or less in substitution of shamans. Human mass graves confirm the sacrifices of children, for example that of 140 skeletons of children which were discovered by archaeologists in Huanchaquito (Peru). At the height of civilization, the network of Inca trails was 22,500 kilometers long. The Incas brought an empire-wide organization that stretched from present-day Ecuador to Santiago de Chile through Argentina.

To maintain a peace of federated ethnic groups, most often against their sandstone, the Incas ensured a foresight of famines with large reserves of dehydrated foods such as potatoes and meat. It seems that the Quipus, an ingenious system of cords with knots, made it possible to identify the reserves and needs in all the territories and ensure a fair distribution. Messengers provided transport throughout the empire and the centralization of the Quipus.

I have heard many tales around Inca rulers. For example that of a Bolivian guide who told us, in summary, this story of the first Inca. “ At Lake Titicaca, a tall, albino Inca declared himself to be the envoy of the gods. He was immediately emulated and a group spontaneously followed him. The group traveled the lands of southern Peru and grew. The disciples were trained in combat ”. It should be noted that a triptych which brings together portraits of all the Inca emperors at the ” Museo de Arte de Lima” attributes a light color to the face of the first emperor.

Finally , after having listened to many opinions of guides, historians, visited many museums, read a lot of texts, visited Inca sites, I remain mixed on the Incas. Either, they have contributed a lot to the development of the Andean regions. But on the other hand, the Incas were brutal, administered by a centralized nobility, and human sacrifices, even if they were also practiced by certain pre-Inca peoples, remain for me definitely intolerable.

As you explore: Cuzco or Cusco

The city of Cuzco was the center of the Inca civilization. It is an open-air museum. It is not uncommon for the detour of an alley to reveal a wall from the Inca period or a characteristic trapezoidal door. The locals are very proud of this archaeological wealth and enthusiastically recall that the Incas were the most important civilization in South America.

In the surroundings close to Cuzco, the 4 sites Tambomachay , Puca Pucara, Qenqo and Sacsayhuaman allow a first contact with the Inca sites, whether they are dedicated to the veneration of water, to the accommodation of pilgrims, to the burial of Pachacútec the ninth Inca or the archaeological site Sacsayhuaman which presents the most impressive work of Inca engineering.

I regretted that the requests in the historic center were so numerous: sale of objects probably made in Asia, offers of more or less dubious massages, offers of tourist excursions of all kinds, ….

Along the discovery: the Inca Trail

The 4 days of walking on the Camino Inca are the subject of a complete article .

The Camino Inca is a path that was taken by pilgrims to get to the most important sacred site of the Inca civilization, namely, Machu Picchu.

It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore highly protected. It can only be borrowed within a very strict framework which includes: one or more sworn guides, a team of porters and cooks, defined camping places, strict rules, for example on waste management. I chose the complete variant of 4 days and 3 nights with the carrying by myself of my backpack.

The Camino Inca ends with a visit to the grandiose and famous Machu Picchu. With Hipolito, the guide who instructed me during the 4 days, the visit was a great moment of discovery of this site recognized as the most important in Peru.

The Bougresses: this is the nickname given to the very many huge trail marches in Nepal. I named them that because I talked to them to try to coax them. In vain !

See the rest on the article .

Throughout the discovery: the site of Pisac or Pisaq

The visit to the archaeological site of Pisac is complementary to that of Machu Picchu. The remains of the Incas are spread over 8 kilometers with a path most often very aerial. The temple of the sun is as worked there as in Machu Picchu, the villages are more finished, the terraces just as majestic, the tourists much rarer and the setting lends itself more to the contemplation and imagination of life in these spaces.

Icing on the cake, I had many opportunities to chat with local tourists there. It was like a kind of goodbye for me, I was 3 days away from the end of my 6 months here in South America, and thanks for the extreme kindness of the inhabitants.

Over the course of discovery: from a new school year to the Cjahualla school

I spent my last day in South America with the association “Assolidarité TrekkInca” in the school of Cjahualla located at 3951 meters above sea level.

Quote from the association “Assolidarité TrekkInca”: “ Peru is experiencing a major challenge in terms of education and in the Cusco region, issues related to the transmission of knowledge are becoming absolute priorities to build a more united and more resilient society. . By making a donation to our French association Assolidarité Trekkinca , in addition to your membership, you give us the means to act to promote access to culture and education for children in the Andes.

Thanks to you, we will be able to continue to build, every day a little more, this world that we want: a world that learns, a world that includes, a world that dialogues, a world that thinks! » . See the website:

I was there as the “official photographer-videographer” for this new school year when the association gave supplies to the students of this school far from everything and whose families live in a particularly harsh environment.

It seems to me that the images speak for themselves, I let you discover them.

What an incredible opportunity for me to do such a report!