The ancient path through South America » Explorersweb

The Peabiru Way, or Caminho de Peabiru, was a 4,000 km long route that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

Although the exact route is up for debate, most agree that it stretches from the coast of Brazil, through Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, to the northern coast of Chile. There are believed to be three trailheads in Brazil: São Paulo, Paraná, and Santa Caterina.

The ancient path is mysterious, for decades people have been trying to figure out who built it. Arléto Rocha spent a considerable amount of time researching the trail and guiding on the route. He wrote that although the route may have been a transcontinental trail, there are several offshoots from the main route. These smaller paths interconnect and once led to native settlements. “We will continually have [new] theories. Certainty about the total course of Peabiru is troublesome, on the grounds that it has changed over the long term,” says Brazilian paleologist Claudia Parellada.

Photo: The Disruptive Quarterly

Origins of the trail

Some researchers believe the trail dates back 10,000 years, to Paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers. Others believe it dates to 400 CE. There are also a handful of more outlandish theories, that the Vikings or Thomas the Apostle created the route.

On one thing everyone agrees that the trail is more than a trail. It has a spiritual aspect; it follows sunrise and sunset. In the Guarani culture, paradise (Yvy Marãey) is located on the other side of the water where the sun rises. Their legends describe the interconnecting paths as a reflection of the Milky Way. The intricate network of trails connects the search for Guarani paradise with the Inca Empire.

Although the path had divine significance for the Guarani people, it was later used by the colonizers. After the Portuguese sailor Aleixo Garcia was shipwrecked in 1524, he sailed the route with a force of 2,000 Guarani. Along the way, he looted gold, silver, and tin. Historians believe he reached the Inca region almost 10 years before Francisco Pizarro.

As the legends of precious metals and minerals reached Europe, many other Europeans hit the trails, exploiting local communities to enrich themselves.

Restoration

Many paths are now covered with thick vegetation or new towns and roads have destroyed them. But, since 2016, the government of Paraná has begun to revive the route.

Workers at the Caminhos de Peabiru project began by researching the historical, cultural and archaeological records of the trail. They are in the process of opening a 1,550 km section which will cross 86 municipalities and 29 districts. The Peabiru Trail will split into three branches, the first will run 800 km from Paranaguá to Peabiru, the second 450 km from Peabiru to Foz do Iguaçu, and the third will take you from Peabiru to Guaíra.

A deep gorge crossed by a river.  A thick jungle borders the banks.

Photo: Peabiru Travel

They map trails of varying difficulty along the original trails. To attract cyclists and hikers, they’ve chosen trails that pass spectacular waterfalls, mountain views, meandering rivers, and historic buildings.

Chief of Staff Guto Silva commented, “The Incas and the Guarani communicated through this trail in the time known as the BC, guided by the Milky Way. For the Guarani it was the land without evil and for the Incas it was the way to seek the source of the sun. We have in Paraná a marvel of human, social, spiritual, economic and historical connection.

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