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Caminos del Inca Rally in Peru


Caminos del Inca winner Nicolás Fuchs

Two-time Caminos del Inca winner Nicolás Fuchs.

Photo © Mariale.gsra, Wikimedia Commons

The Caminos del Inca Rally is an annual city-to-city rally (or rally raid) event organized by the Automóvil Club Peruano (ACP). It was first held in 1966 and has since become the most important event of its kind to be staged entirely within Peru. The world-famous Dakar Rally also came to Peru in 2012 and 2013, but with stages shared between Peru, Chile and Argentina.

History of the Caminos del Inca Rally

In 1962, Peruvian rally legend Henry Bradley returned to Peru after competing in a large and well-organized rallying event in Argentina. On his return, he asked Roman Alzamora, then Director of the Automóvil Club Peruano (Peruvian Automobile Club), why Peru didn’t have its own major rally event. The question sparked a chain of thought that was destined to head in only one direction...

Together, Bradley and Alzamora began to map out possible routes for what was to be known as the Caminos del Inca Rally. They settled on a demanding route that would begin in Lima before passing through Huancayo, Ayacucho, Cusco and Arequipa and then back to the capital (the same route used today).

The President of the Automóvil Club Peruano initially rejected the idea, but the decision was overturned a few months later and a committee was formed to plan out the project in detail. Once the route and the logistics of the rally had been firmly established, the Caminos del Inca was given the green light for its 1966 debut.

Fittingly, Henry Bradley won the first ever Caminos del Inca Rally. He went on to win the event seven times between 1966 and 1988.

The first event was a success, but the Caminos del Inca has come up against a few barriers over the years. Fuel shortages in Peru during the Presidency of Juan Velasco Alvarado led to the cancelation of the Caminos del Inca Rally in 1974 and 1975. The rally returned after the overthrow of Velasco and proceeded without major problems until 1982, when Shining Path terrorist activity in the Ayacucho region forced a route change from 1982 to 1984. These events were not held under the Caminos del Inca name.

The Caminos del Inca Rally has been held every year since 1985. The next instalment is scheduled for September 2013.

Caminos del Inca Competitors

Only three non-Peruvian drivers have won the Caminos del Inca since the first race in 1966. Most of the competitors are from South America, but the rally -- one of the few long distance events left in the world -- has attracted some big-name racers over the years.

Notable drivers include John Buffum (the most successful US rally driver of all time), former world champion Hannu Mikkola and Argentine driver Jorge Recalde. The 2007 rally included Juha Kankkunen, four-time World Rally Champion and former Dakar Rally winner.

The Caminos del Inca Rally Route

The Caminos del Inca Rally covers a total distance of approximately 1,700 miles (2,700 km), normally traversed during the course of nine to ten days (including rest days). The backbone of the rally comprises the following five main stages, which include gravel, dirt and asphalt surfaces:

  • Lima - Huancayo
  • Huancayo - Ayacucho
  • Ayacucho - Cusco
  • Cusco - Arequipa
  • Arequipa - Lima

You can see the 2012 itinerary and stage maps at the Automóvil Club Peruano website.

Like the Dakar Rally, the Caminos del Inca is a true test of driver and vehicle stamina, with stages varying from desert terrain to high mountain passes. The Andean stages offer some literally breathtaking scenery. Sections can rise up to altitudes of up to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters), with some drivers choosing to carry oxygen onboard to fight against fatigue caused by high elevations and possible altitude sickness.

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