"The guy stopped, gasping some fatigue, while trying to breathe and sigh at the same time. The sight of the Andes struck his senses, stronger yet, suffocating him completely.
Experienced in many roads, left the bike, looking at his mates down there, and gasping again. "No, definitely, there is nothing like that." He had risen a little more than the others, leading the bike carefully,  sometimes taking risks to watching. They had run some hundred meters and reached the foot of a mountain and, after a few minutes, after some bushes, the mount of gray rocks, discomposedly arranged by the hand of the time, announced, few meters above, the Qhapac Ñan (1 ) as a thin gray line, climbing the cliffs, as everyone had seen, perplexed, from the quiet of the road. He remembered everything he had read about the path and found that words could never describe it. No human being could describe the thrill of discovery. It was like stepping back in time, some five hundred years, it was like watching the comings and goings of American Civilization. He felt a little jealous of not belonging at all this and then he thought, "I'm here!". He shouted to the fellows who smiled back, full of enthusiasm and joy. Then he climbed, with strength and security, the meters that separated him from the Qhapac Ñan. He stepped on it with the reverence of who gets to go home. He shouted, 'ah' with the full power of his lungs, almost angrily, mixing all the feelings in one package. He did not think the guys down there, he forgot everything that he had lived up there. His feet were, finally, on the path of the Great Lord. "

From the square of Wakaypata, that delimitated the duality of the city of Cusco in Hanan and Hurin (Upper and Lower Cuzco), converged the four Inca paths, because the city was the convergence center of the road network of the Qhapac Ñan. This one, with its confluences was the key of the whole social and spatial organization of Inca life, beyond adding administratives functions, economic, political, religious, and also of war. From the Qhapac Ñan, a whole network of secondary roads, equally importants, connected, completely, the Tahuantinsuyo.

Paved with stones, despite the road design does not have a single standard but adapted to the geography of each region, were made ​​to last. The width of the roads also varies: in some areas reaches 15 meters, in others it reaches one meter and a half, in order to outflank some ravines or gorges.  Throughout the road network, every twenty kilometers or as needed, had constructions called tambos (2).
These tambos could also accommodate passersby and travelers, in addition to storing food, grains and clothes. The Inca imperial army, when in campaign, also used them. The Qhapaq Ñan was the basis for the development of Tahuantinsuyo and for its consolidation as Empire, by extending to northern Argentina, northern Chile, Bolivia, entire Peru and Ecuador, arriving in southern Colombia. Uniting jungle, mountains and coast, the andean way, unfolding in a whole system of roads and bridges, with a heavy traffic of people and merchandises, left its original role to taking its place in history as part of the culture of the planet.

                                                  image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú

The main road had 5,200 km, went from Quito (Ecuador) till Cuzco (Peru), and ended in (actual) Tucuman, Argentina, crossing mountains and hills, with heights of over 5.000 meters.

The coast road, parallel to the sea, had 4000 km and linked to the Qhapac Ñan by various connections. Both this and the coastal highway had a maximum width of four meters.
second road from Cusco to Nazca (Peru center) and Tumbes (border between Peru and Ecuador). A third main road from Cusco to Chuquiabo (Bolivia). And the fourth route from Cusco to Arica (Chile), with branches to the river Maule (Chile) and San Miguel de Tucuman (Argentina).
The Qhapac Ñan became a mythic path and the symbol of all the great civilization of ancient South America, and now represents the heart of those who seek him, today, in another way, more fluid, more imaginative, what accounted for the Inca people in their daily lives. The material assumes, today, an adventurous and spiritual caracter - linking the past to the present, through his cobble of gray rocks; carrying us back, to the origins of an America so poorly understood.
Built during the heyday of the Empire, in the fifteenth century, was its bond of union and the vector of exchange and circulation, flooding it with life, leading daily, people of all "classes", such as soldiers, traders, artisans and... the chasquis.

These, were messengers, that, alternating every five kilometers, ran down the roads, to bring all sorts of messages, which allowed  them to arrive as quickly as possible to the destination.

                                                   image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú

Each seven kilometers there was a Pukara (3) that controlled the movement of the roads, every twenty kilometers, a tambo, and every fifty kilometers, came to an important city.

Untill today, even in less preserved paths, one can reach all major places of pre-columbian ceremonial, such as Chavin de Huantar, Tihuanaku, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley of Urubamba, the great cities of Empire as Tumebamba and Cuzco, numerous ruins of military buildings, rural communities and urban centers, historic colonial cities such as Ingarpica, Cuenca, Cajamarca y Tarma. Concurrently, one can even get to other archaeological sites of pre-Columbian cultures like the Canaris, Mochica, Chimu.

                                     image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú

Specifically in Cajamarca, sad stage of what represented the "end" of Tahuantinsuyo, with the arrest and death of Atahualpa, the Qhapaq Ñan of Chinchaysuyo traverses the region, longitudinally, with secondary and transverse roads, what makes that Cajamarca is interspersed with ancient roads. From north to south, the Qhapac Ñan, coming from Huamachuco till Cajabamba, through Cauday, coming down to the river Crisnejas, up until Chancay by the uphill of the Inca, passing to Ichocán, San Marcos, Namora, around the pond of Sulluscocha until reach the Inca Baths (favorite place of Atahualpa), across the zone of Shaullo. From Baths of the Inca the path leads to Cajamarca, and from there to Rumichaca, after Incatambo (San Pablo), rising again, to the northwest, until Chancay Baños (Santa Cruz) passing through the area of ​​Pucara before crossing several times the ravine of Huancabamba to reach then Caxas and Ayabaca in Piura. Completing, there are still traces of these paths of Cajamarca to Hualgayoc, to Bambamarca and to Celendín on the road to Chachapoyas. There is also a transverse road that begins in Huancabamba, in Piura, that passes by San Ignacio and Jaén, in Cajamarca, going to toward Kuelap, in Chachapoyas. Still others, linking Cajamarca to the coast by the valley of Chicama in La Libertad, or by the valley of Jequetepeque till Lambayeque.

                                           image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú

Although the subject matter experts compare the Qhapac Ñan to the road network of the Roman Empire, particularly, I believe that there can be no possible comparison, by the fact it was built on the heights of the Andes, coming up to five thousand feet above sea level, with all the difficulties that the engineering work had to face for its realization. It is definitely one of the great wonders of the world, crossing by fifteen different ecoregions, four of them threatened with extinction (Peruvian Yungas, Marañón Dry Forests (Cerrados), the Chilean scrub and the Chilean winter jungle.

                                                         image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú

The "Qhapaq Ñan", The Great Inca Path, that extended his veins, through its roads and trails, by forty thousand kilometers, linking the Andes - mountains, coast and jungle -, waits now to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(1) (The Main Path (or Real))

(2) in Quechua, means rest

(3) Fortified Tour, Customs.

                                                         image: Qhapaq Ñan Perú