Connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, a 4,000km South American trail created by indigenous people over millennia is revealing its mysteries to the world.
The general consensus is that the main route in the network connected the east and west coasts of South America: it began from three starting points on the coast of Brazil (in São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina states) that joined up in Paraná, continued across Paraguay to silver-rich Potosí and Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, pressed on to Cusco (the capital of the Incan Empire) in Peru and then down to the Peruvian and northern Chilean coast.
“In broad terms, we can say that the path followed the movement of the setting and rising sun,” wrote Bond in her most recent e-book, História do Caminho de Peabiru, published last year.
The Guaranis’ spiritual path to paradise became a fast track to riches for European invaders – such as Portuguese sailor Aleixo Garcia – on the New World expeditions that would ultimately lead to genocide of South America’s indigenous populations. Legends of El Dorado and the Sierra de la Plata (Mountain of Silver) brought Spanish and Portuguese flotillas across the Atlantic, and some indigenous groups helped them penetrate the interior of the continent along the Caminho de Peabiru, said Parellada. “Knowing the main routes and trails via the native populations became a strategic advantage, broadening the plundering, the destruction and the greed for new territories and mineral riches.” »