Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Nan is the Andean road system created by the Inca civilization.

They used it for the purposes of communication, trade and defence. It reached its maximum expansion in the 15th century. The central square of Cusco, known as Hanan Hauk'aypata, is the origin of the four main roads that allowed the Incas to easily travel by foot to every corner of their territory.

This is a serial nomination of over 720km of stretches of road and 291 archaeological sites, stretching across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.


Visit May 2011

With this huge Qhapaq Nan serial nomination, the Andean countries seem to have clustered all Inca-sites of any importance. I visited the area in 2011, and besides Cuzco/Tiwanaku/Quebrada de Humahuaca which are already WHS in their own right I visited some of the "lesser" sites too.

Pachacamac is an easy half-day trip out of Lima. I took one of the dozens of minibuses that leave all the time from Avenida Grau. It dropped me off right at the site's entrance. There's a little museum on site, displaying some pretty Wari ceramics and also textile that has survived the ages due to the extremely dry climate here.

Its location indeed is one of the most remarkable things about Pachacamac - it's out there in the desert, within sight from the sea. The site is totally covered in sand. Archeologists are only slowly making their way to the many temples and other features below. Most of it is off limits to visitors, though the Temple of the Sun can be climbed and other parts like the North-South Street have explanatory boards. You can do a full circuit walk of the large terrain in about an hour (if you have a car, you can also drive).

Pachacamac was a ceremonial and pilgrimage site between 200 and 1535. It was used by different civilizations: the Lima, the Wari, the Ichma and the Inca. Its most distinguishing fact is that it predominantly is a Wari site, a culture which is not represented on the List yet. But it's not the best place to see Wari remains - Pachacamac never was a central site for them, and the Inca added and altered a lot.

Above the city of Cuzco, half an hour's walk from the main square, are the ruins of the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman. This is the most remarkable archeological site in all of Cusco, but is not part of the Cusco WHS. Cusco is located at 3400 meters altitude, and the fort at 3700 meters. It's a long climb to get there. What's left are especially walls, in the typical Inca style. The 22 walls are laid out in a remarkable zigzag formation. This site seems now part of the buffer zone of the Qhapaq Nan WHS, and is mentioned several times in the dossier.

Ollantaytambo, the village with the difficult name (they shorten it to Ojanta in everyday speech), is located in the Sacred Valley, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Unlike Machu Picchu, the Spaniards have been here. In a famous battle, the Incas led by Manco Inca defeated the invaders.

Against a hillside on the outskirts of the village lie the ruins of a religious complex, built by the Incas in the 15th century. I slowly walked up the stairs along the terraces, which are very steep and tightly constructed. What immediately stands out here are the giant blocks of stone, the monoliths. This is something you do not see Machu Picchu. I always associated them with Tiwanaku, Bolivia.

On top there are a lot of loose, semi-finished stones on the top. And the ruins of a temple. The complex seems to have been abandoned before it was completely finished. Or hit by an earthquake. This is a fascinating place, with beautiful views over the valley. On a mountain slope on the other side you can still see the remains of warehouses that the Incas used to store their agricultural products. My visit to Ollantaytambo rivalled that of Machu Pichu.

Community Reviews

Michael Turtle - March 2016

This is a strange site to visit - how do you determine whether you have 'seen' it, when it's made up of thousands of kilometres of track all across the continent?

I consider that I have ticked it off because I walked much of the tracks on my way to Machu Picchu in Peru. But you could so it so many other ways - or even spend years walking different routes and still never technically see it all.

I'm glad it has been added to the list, though. It's a really interesting part of national infrastructure and played a huge part in the ability of the Incans to grow their civilisation and conquer so much of South America.

Will UNESCO be tempted to look favourably upon a submission from the US to list the country's interstate highway system now? :)

Read more from Michael Turtle here.

Kyle Magnuson - July 2014

I've visited three major elements of the Qhapac Nan WHS in Peru.

- Pachacamac

- Cuzco

- Raqchi

1) Pachacamac is a sacred site that was important to the Inca, but long preceded them. The landscape is striking, because the archeological site is within sight of the Pacific ocean, but is very much a desert. Much of the pyramid shaped structure is buried. Pachacamac is truly a monumental site, and must have been stunning even to the Inca.

2) Cuzco is considered the center of Qhapac Nan, indeed the roads all connect to this high-altitude Inca capital. Several streets near the plaza highlight the precision and boldness of Inca architecture. The blocks are enormous, and they look they were set decades ago, not centuries. Behind the cathedral parts of the Inca era palace foundations and walls are visible.

3) Lastly, Raqchi is an important stopping point along Qhapac Nan. The ruined site and surrounding landscape is exquisite. Wetlands surround part of the site, and the various structures highlight varied structures that are somewhat rare. During my visit, Raqchi was merely a stopping point on the road from Cuzco to Puno. I could not have been more pleased, this pit-stop was well worth my time. Indeed, a well-preserved portion of the Andean road approaches the ruins.

Read more from Kyle Magnuson here.

Assif Am-David - December 2009

In Argentina this nomination includes multiple locations throughout the Eastern border from Jujuy to Mendosa. I guess it should include the Quebrada de Humahuaca as well. In Salta Province there is a special Inca site atop the Llullaillaco mountain at the height of 6700 meters! Three mummies and an accompanying treasure were unearthed. They are now presented in the Museum of High Mountain Archaeology in Salta (MAAM) where I would recommend a visit.

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Site Info

Full name: Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System

Site History

  • 2014 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
  • 2014 - Revision

    Includes former Ecuador TWHS Pambamarca (1998), Ingapirca (1998) and cultural part of Lacs du Cajas et Ruines de Paredones (2003)


The site has 137 locations. Show all

  • AR-ACHC-03/CS-2011
  • AR-ANC-13/CS-2011
  • AR-CAC-08/CS-2011
  • AR-CYSA-17/CS-2011
  • AR-LCLP-10/CS-2011
  • AR-LLL-16/CS-2011
  • AR-LLU-07/CS-2011
  • AR-PA-09/CS-2011
  • AR-PIN-20/CS-2011
  • AR-PPG-05/CS-2011
  • AR-QGE-01/C-2011
  • AR-RAN-18/CS-2011
  • AR-SRT-02/CS-2011
  • BO-DV-01/CS-2011
  • BO-DV-02/CS-2011
  • BO-DV-03/CS-2011
  • CH-CN-12/CS-2009
  • CH-CS-13/CS-2010
  • CH-CS-14/C-2010
  • CH-CS-15/CS-2010
  • CH-CS-16/CS-2010
  • CH-CT-10/CS-2010
  • CH-IN-05/CS-2009
  • CH-IN-06/CS-2009
  • CH-LN-07/CS-2009
  • CH-LN-08/CS-2009
  • CH-LN-09/CS-2009
  • CH-PF-33/CS-2010
  • CH-PF-34/CS-2010
  • CH-PN-17/CS-2010
  • CH-PN-18/CS-2010
  • CH-PR-19/C-2010
  • CH-PR-20/CS-2010
  • CH-PR-21/C-2010
  • CH-PR-22/C-2010
  • CH-PR-23/CS-2010
  • CH-PS-01/C-2009
  • CH-RP-24/CS-2010
  • CH-RP-25/C-2010
  • CH-RP-26/S-2010
  • CH-RP-27/S-2010
  • CH-RP-28/CS-2010
  • CH-RP-29/CS-2010
  • CH-RP-30/CS-2010
  • CH-RP-31/CS-2010
  • CH-RP-32/CS-2010
  • CH-SS-02/CS-2009
  • CH-SS-03/CS-2009
  • CH-SS-04/S-2009
  • CH-TN-11/CS-2009
  • CO-RP-01-C-2011
  • CO-RP-01-C-2011
  • CO-RP-02-C-2011
  • CO-RP-03-C-2011
  • CO-RP-04-C-2011
  • CO-RP-05-C-2011
  • CO-RP-06-C-2011
  • CO-RP-07-C-2011
  • CO-RP-08-C-2011
  • CO-RP-09-C-2011
  • EC-AI-11/CS-2011
  • EC-BP-22/C-2011
  • EC-CQ-09/CS-2011
  • EC-CR-14/CS-2011
  • EC-CT-23/CS-2011
  • EC-CV-25/CS-2011
  • EC-EH-13/CS-2011
  • EC-HH-19/C-2011
  • EC-JC-07/CS-2011
  • EC-LC-06/C-2011
  • EC-LL-16/CS-2011
  • EC-LQ-05/C-2011
  • EC-ME-04/CS-2011
  • EC-MM-17/CS-2011
  • EC-PC-08/CS-2011
  • EC-PGPC-12/C-2011
  • EC-PP-18/CS-2011
  • EC-PTA-02/CS-2011
  • EC-PTB-03/CS-2011
  • EC-QS-26/CS-2011
  • EC-SASA-20/CS-2011
  • EC-SL-28/CS-2011
  • EC-SS-21/CS-2011
  • PE-ALP-60/CS-2011
  • PE-CD-02/CS-2011
  • PE-CD-03/C-2011
  • PE-CD-04/CS-2011
  • PE-CD-06/C-2011
  • PE-CD-08/C-2011
  • PE-CD-09/CS-2011
  • PE-CD-10/C-2011
  • PE-CD-11/C-2011
  • PE-CD-12/C-2011
  • PE-CD-13/C-2011
  • PE-CD-14/C-2011
  • PE-CD-15/C-2011
  • PE-HH-41/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-42/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-43/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-44/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-45/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-46/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-47/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-48/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-49/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-50/C-2011
  • PE-HH-51/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-52/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-53/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-54/C-2011
  • PE-HH-55/C-2011
  • PE-HH-56/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-57/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-58/CS-2011
  • PE-HH-59/CS-2011
  • PE-OL-16/CS-2011
  • PE-OL-17/C-2011
  • PE-OL-18/CS-2011
  • PE-OL-19/CS-2011
  • PE-OL-21/CS-2011
  • PE-PH-01/CS-2011
  • PE-PQ-27/C-2011
  • PE-VCH-22/CS-2011
  • PE-VCH-23/CS-2011
  • PE-VCH-24/CS-2011
  • PE-VCH-26/CS-2011
  • PE-XP-30/CS-2011
  • PE-XP-31/S-2011
  • PE-XP-32/C-2011
  • PE-XP-33/CS-2011
  • PE-XP-34/C-2011
  • PE-XP-35/S-2011
  • PE-XP-36/S-2011
  • PE-XP-37/C-2011
  • PE-XP-38/S-2011
  • PE-XP-39/S-2011
  • PE-XP-40/CS-2011

Look where they are, via this Map.


The site has 39 connections.



  • Aqueduct Caranqui
  • Baths At Puente del Inca
  • Notable Bridges Puente Q'eswachaca (rope bridge)
  • Petroglyphs Cabuyal
  • Pictographs Finca de Chañaral Site (CH-PF-34/CS-2010) - "There is a set of panels with paintings or pictographs, covering almost the entire length of the narrows (about 2km). The designs are made with red paint on the rocky outcropping that forms the narrows, on both of its sides. They measure between 2 and 20 metres high. The motifs are varied: anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, abstracts, geometrics, masks, etc. There are approximately 200 motifs, arranged jointly or isolated." (Nom File)
  • Tombs Chullpas of Pata-Ccaje, Tolas of Quitoloma
  • Unfinished constructions Ollantaytambo: The unfinished structures at the Temple Hill and the numerous stone blocks that litter the site indicate that it was still undergoing construction at the time of its abandonment (wiki)




  • Camino Real " In the colonial period, the Spaniards began to administer the existing roads and ordered the creation of new roads to link the main administrative centres of the Viceroyalty of Peru and (later on) of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. In the Northern Andes, Qhapaq Nan was called Camino Real, and was connected to other roads to link the capital of the Royal Audience of Quito to Santa Fe de Bogotá, capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada" and "This road, known as the Camino Real connected Cusco with the city of La Paz. Fernando de Matienzo, in his work titled Ancient Memoires of the History and Politics of Peru ([1567] 1967), makes reference to the existence of the Camino Real which started at Cusco and went all the way to Charcas" (both from Nom File)
  • Pre-Inca cultures Tiwanaku at Tiwanaku, Canari at Ingapirca
  • Qhapaq Nan (Inca) 

Human Activity

  • Cultural Routes 
  • Human Sacrifice Children of Llullaillaco
  • Irrigation and drainage Choquequirao, Huamachuco
  • Man-made Terraces Huacahuasi, Rumiqolqa, Choqetakarpu
  • Mummies Piramide del Cerro Aconcagua (AR-PIN-20/CS-2011) "with its ceremonial site in La Piramide (ca. 5,300 MASL), has, in a dry-stone wall structure, the mummified body of a child..........In the protected landfill of one of the dry-stone walls there was the funerary bundle containing the tightly folded body of an infant of some 7 years of age, half-buried and slanted due to displacement" (Nom File)

Individual People

  • Francisco Pizarro Through San Marcos and Yamobamba one arrives at the town of Baños, where the Inca Atahualpa was when Francisco Pizarro arrived with his soldiers in November 1532 and from there it is a short distance to Cajamarca, the city where both met in an unequal battle (Nom File) + Conquest of Cuzco
  • Max Uhle Includes the "Archaeological Sanctuary of Pacahacamac (PEXP-40/CS-2011)". This site was first excavated by Uhle "His site report of work at Pachacamac was highly praised and is still used as a basic text for studying South American archaeology." - (Wiki). He also travelled and documented parts of the Qapac Nan as far south as sections in Argentina -e.g "nowhere else in Argentina or Peru have I found larger or more beautiful fragments of Inca style earthenware jars than from among the ruins of the home of the Inca in La Rioja". (Uhle 1923)" (Nom file)
  • Tupac Inca Yupanqui Extended the Inca empire northward connected with the Qhapaq Nan
  • Visited by Alexander von Humboldt on his travels One of the first people to mention the road in his writings was the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who visited the Andes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century (nom file)


  • Built in the 15th century The central thrust of the Incas' policy, initiated in the sixth century and recorded in millennia of pre-Hispanic Andean history, was expressed to the fullest in terms of territorial spread and maximum linkages among cultures in the fifteenth century (nom file)


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process