Explore the ancient history of South America!
High peaks, a Sacred Valley, ancient geoglyphs and archeological wonders will all be part of the experience on our tour to Peru. Your journey will take you to the centre of the Inca Empire and provide an opportunity to stand among the ruins of this ancient culture.
Peru, prior to Spanish invasion was the center of the Inca Empire. It is believed that this ancient civilization evolved sometime in the 13th century and existed until the Spanish conquered the last strong hold in 1572. Known for their incredible road systems, sophisticated farming system and architecture, the most famous of which are the buildings of Machu Picchu, they had no written language. What we do know about the traditions and culture of these people is what was recorded by the Spanish invaders. Following the conquest of the Inca Empire, smallpox, typhus, diphtheria and measles all ravaged the remaining Inca nation.
Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire and the federalist system consisted of a central government with the ruler at its head. It was under the leadership of Manco Capac that the Kingdom of Cuzco was formed and the expansion of the Inca Empire began. The conquered areas covered most of what we know today as Peru and Ecuador, and were divided into four geographical quadrants that all fell under Inca control in Cuzco.
The Incas were a civilization that believed in a number of Deities, most importantly, the Inti – the Sun God and the patron deity of the holy city of Cuzco, the centre of Inca rule.
The Inca believed in reincarnation, but it was of paramount importance that an Inca not die as a result of burning or incineration as that prevented reincarnation.
Human sacrifices were performed during or after important events, mostly on children, as they were considered to be the purest. These sacrifices were known as capacocha.
Cranial deformation was also practiced to distinguish nobility among the social classes. This was achieved by wrapping a newborns head with tight cloth straps to alter the shape of their soft skulls into a more conical form.
For those of you looking for a more in-depth look at Inca history, culture and tradition, a book that has been recommended to me is The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie.
While many Inca traditions survive today in the remote villages of Peru, the cities today are a mixture of colonial and modern architecture. Peruvians are known as a warm, friendly and welcoming people. The dominant religion is Catholicism and the official language is Spanish. If you are a shopper, you will find the latest in international fashion as well as those that are traditional and hand made by the Peruvian people. Dining is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate as Peruvian cuisine is world renowned for its fusion of Inca and Spanish dishes that feature local ingredients.
So get going, pack your bags and “pasarlo bien” (Spanish for “have fun”) in Peru.
Written by: Joan Niemeier