Cover image for Along the Inca road : a woman's journey into an ancient empire
Along the Inca road : a woman's journey into an ancient empire
Muller, Karin, 1965-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society : Adventure Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
295 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F2212 .M85 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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One of the engineering wonders of the world, the Inca Road was built more than five hundred years ago to link the far-flung outposts of a fabled empire -- an empire that ruled in golden splendor until the conquistadors arrived to plunder El Dorado and put a swift, cruel end to its extraordinary culture. But its legend survives in the masterful masonry of its paving blocks and the ruined glory of ghost cities such as Cuzco. In this vivid, free-wheeling expedition, Karin Muller travels the ancient route to explore its dramatic history and discover new adventures along its length and breadth.

"Along the Inca Road" shares the stillness of sunrise in the haunted aerie of Machu Picchu, clings to the roof of a rattletrap bus skirting the vertiginous precipices of the Andes, carouses through the streets of an Altiplano city on Carnival, and inches warily forward as Ecuadorian soldiers probe for land mines with bayonets. Muller's ready for just about anything, whether it's challenging the Pacific surf in a traditional Inca reed boat, locking horns with a bull in a cheering Peruvian arena, or joining a crack Bolivian anti-narcotics team on

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sometimes people in midlife need to re-create a youthful journey, as Tim Brookes did in Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow [BKL Jl 00]; sometimes their journey is a soul search, as in Debi Holmes-Binny's Desert Sojourn [BKL Je 1 & 15 00]. Muller had a map on her bedroom ceiling of the Royal Inca Highway, or at least where it was thought to have run. Funded by a National Geographic grant, she spent more than six months walking, riding, and wandering along that road through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Her story is funny and tender, and it is told deftly: unlike many travel memoirs, she focuses not on herself but on the people she meets and what they do. In Lima, she sees the flower and sawdust street paintings of Los Milagros; she visits an old couple on the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca who speak Aymara, a language older than the Inca. Mostly she is open: she tries to capture not the otherness of the place or the people but the richness of common and recognizable humanity. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hoping to embark on a "hero's journey," Muller (Hitchhiking Vietnam) makes the most of a National Geographic grant to explore the ancient Inca Highway that runs through the Andes. Explaining her intention, Muller writes that heroes "are not the strongest nor the bravest, nor even the most deserving. But they all share one trait: They are traveling into the unknown." In this spirit, Muller travels over 3,000 miles through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile for "six unscheduled months to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my wayÄto spend time with farmers plowing their fields and cross the high plains with a llama caravan." Muller's enthusiasm and interest are unflagging whether in the midst of a dangerous political protest in Quito or undergoing a traditional guinea-pig healing session elsewhere in Ecuador. ("A razor blade materialized and the animal was slit from chin to tail, its skin pulled off like a glove.") While Muller admits difficulty in abiding by some cultural practices encounteredÄ"the trouble was my own upbringing," she admits, "the only real religion in my family was science"Äshe proves fearless and open-hearted, loath to pass up any experience. Muller even goes out of her way to join a physically and emotionally grueling patrol to remove land mines in the Cordillera mountain range, never complaining that what was said to be a "demonstration" was actually a field of live mines. "That night I dreamt of wandering through a field of exquisite purple flowers," she writes. "I leaned down to pluck one and vaporized." Muller weaves substantial bits of South American history, geography and current events throughout the text, a fitting tribute to an extraordinary odyssey. 16 photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The multilingual Muller is best known for Hitchhking Vietnam, a book and PBS Special based on seven months of traveling around Vietnam. For her next challenge, Muller decided to follow the ancient Inca Road from Ecuador to Chile, this time with the help of National Geographic, which provided her with funding and a cameraman. The results of the trip are an upcoming documentary and this thorough and enjoyable book, which paints an interesting portrait of the people the author meets. Despite the often rough and very uncomfortable conditions on the trip, Muller never complains. Instead, she focuses on the warm hospitality of the people, the turbulent history of the region, and the beauty of the countryside. Her daring spirit compels her to take part in several adventures, such as participating in ancient festivals, going down into a gold mine, trying her hand at bullfighting, and accompanying the Bolivian army on a cocaine raid. Muller's account is a lot of fun for armchair travelers but would also be worthwhile for anyone interested in learning about the region. Recommended for all travel collections.DKathleen Shanahan, Kensington, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 The Thin Red Linep. 1
2 To the Northernmost Reaches of the Empirep. 9
3 The People's Warp. 25
4 Mama Negra's Groomp. 35
5 A Life of Givingp. 45
6 The Crashp. 57
7 Into the Dragon's Lairp. 73
8 Land Mines in Paradisep. 95
9 A Journey into the Spirit Worldp. 117
10 The People of the Cloudsp. 133
11 Twilight of an Empirep. 153
12 The Patriarch of Huanchaco Beachp. 159
13 The Walkerp. 171
14 A Mango in the Surfp. 187
15 The Holy Hubp. 195
16 Taking the Bull by the Hornsp. 199
17 Ancient Lives in Modern Timesp. 215
18 The Golden Fleece of the Andesp. 219
19 A Sacred Placep. 239
20 Lost in the Junglep. 243
21 The Travelerp. 265
22 Cocainep. 269
23 The Devil's Dancep. 277
24 Wheelsp. 287
25 The Chroniclerp. 293
Anatomy of an Adventurep. 296