In 1971, an expedition returned to Huascaran and claimed to have sighted the slabs of stone that they believed blocked the tunnel entrances. They described paved stone tunnels that extended down the mountain and into the ocean for 65 miles, terminating 80 ft. below sea level, blocked by doors that moved ingeniously on pivots—all signs of a hoax. These tunnels have never been seen by anyone else, though all modern English versions are derived (largely verbatim) from Erich von Däniken’s summary in The Gold of the Gods of a German popular science magazine’s description of them. This magazine article is apparently the sole documentation of the expedition. Von Däniken also claimed to have personally explored the tunnels in The Gold of the Gods, finding within alien artifacts, which he knew then and later admitted was all a lie. David Childress sought them out as well, and he admitted he found absolutely nothing, which failed to dent his enthusiasm for the tunnels in the least. Wilkins’ work was the direct source for David Childress.
The fact of the matter is that all of the modern writers’ accounts are derived—in many cases almost verbatim—from Blavatsky’s. Seriously: Every alternative account I’ve examined has nearly paralleled Blavatsky’s point for point and claim for claim. Consider this:
Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, 1877
Wilkins, Mysteries of Ancient South America, 1947, p. 158
Childress, Lost Cities of South America, 1986, p. 61 (repeated verbatim in World Explorer, vol. 2, no. 3.)
Marveling at the exhibition of such treasures, the conqueror declared that he would not release the prisoner, but would murder him, unless the queen revealed the place whence the treasure came. He had heard that the Incas had somewhere an inexhaustible mine; a subterranean road or tunnel running many miles under ground, where were kept the accumulated riches of the country.
"I will not release the Inca; but will murder him, unless you tell me whence all these treasures come.” Pizarro had heard, goes on the native Peruvian tradition, that the Incas possessed a secret and inexhaustible mine, or enormous depository of mysterious character, which lay in a vast, subterranean tunnel, or road, running many miles underground beneath his imperial dominions. Here were kept the accumulated riches of the country.
But Pizarro had demanded, after seeing the previous treasures, that he be shown the source of this fabulous wealth before he would release the Inca. He had heard that the Incas possessed a secret and inexhaustible mine or depository, which lay in a subterranean tunnel running many miles underground. Here was supposedly kept the accumulated riches of the country.
The story concerns the famous treasures of the last of the Incas. The Peruvian asserted that since the well-known and miserable murder of the latter by Pizarro, the secret had been known to all the Indians, except the Mestizos, who could not be trusted. It runs thus: The Inca was made prisoner, and his wife offered for his liberation a room full of gold, "from the floor up to the ceiling, as high up as his conqueror could reach" before the sun would set on the third day. She kept her promise, but Pizarro broke his word, according to Spanish practice. Marveling at the exhibition of such treasures, the conqueror declared that he would not release the prisoner, but would murder him, unless the queen revealed the place whence the treasure came. He had heard that the Incas had somewhere an inexhaustible mine; a subterranean road or tunnel running many miles under ground, where were kept the accumulated riches of the country. The unfortunate queen begged for delay, and went to consult the oracles. During the sacrifice, the chief-priest showed her in the consecrated 'black mirror' the unavoidable murder of her husband, whether she delivered the treasures of the crown to Pizarro or not. Then the queen gave the order to close the entrance, which was a door cut in the rocky wall of a chasm. Under the direction of the priest and magicians, the chasm was accordingly filled to the top with huge masses of rock, and the surface covered over so as to conceal the work. The Inca was murdered by the Spaniards and his unhappy queen committed suicide. Spanish greed overreached itself, and the secret of the buried treasures was locked in the breasts of a few faithful Peruvians.
Our Peruvian informant added that in consequence of certain indiscretions at various times, persons had been sent by different governments to search for the treasure under the pretext of scientific exploration. They had rummaged the country through, but without realizing their object. So far this tradition is corroborated by the reports of Dr. Tschudi and other historians of Peru. But there are certain additional details which we are not aware have been made public before now.
Several years after hearing the story, and its corroboration by the Italian gentleman, we again visited Peru. Going southward from Lima, by water, we reached a point near Arica at sunset, and were struck by the appearance of an enormous rock, nearly perpendicular, which stood in mournful solitude on the shore, apart from the range of the Andes. It was the tomb of the Incas. As the last rays of the setting sun strike the face of the rock, one can make out, with an ordinary opera-glass, some curious hieroglyphics inscribed on the volcanic surface.
When Cuzco was the capital of Peru, it contained a temple of the sun, famed far and near for its magnificence. It was roofed with thick plates of gold, and the walls were covered with the same precious metal; the eave-troughs were also of solid gold. In the west wall the architects had contrived an aperture in such a way that when the sunbeams reached it, it focused them inside the building. Stretching like a golden chain from one sparkling point to another, they encircled the walls, illuminating the grim idols, and disclosing certain mystic signs at other times invisible. It was only by understanding these hieroglyphics — identical with those which may be seen to this day on the tomb of the Incas — that one could learn the secret of the tunnel and its approaches. Among the latter was one in the neighborhood of Cuzco, now masked beyond discovery. This leads directly into an immense tunnel which runs from Cuzco to Lima, and then, turning southward, extends into Bolivia. At a certain point it is intersected by a royal tomb. Inside this sepulchral chamber are cunningly arranged two doors; or, rather, two enormous slabs which turn upon pivots, and close so tightly as to be only distinguishable from the other portions of the sculptured walls by the secret signs, whose key is in the possession of the faithful custodians. One of these turning slabs covers the southern mouth of the Liman tunnel — the other, the northern one of the Bolivian corridor. The latter, running southward, passes through Tarapaca and Cobija, for Arica is not far away from the little river called Pay'quina, which is the old boundary between Peru and Bolivia.
Not far from this spot stand three separate peaks which form a curious triangle; they are included in the chain of the Andes. According to tradition the only practicable entrance to the corridor leading northward is in one of these peaks; but without the secret of its landmarks, a regiment of Titans might rend the rocks in vain in the attempt to find it. But even were some one to gain an entrance and find his way as far as the turning slab in the wall of the sepulcher, and attempt to blast it out, the superincumbent rocks are so disposed as to bury the tomb, its treasures, and — as the mysterious Peruvian expressed it to us — "a thousand warriors" in one common ruin. There is no other access to the Arica chamber but through the door in the mountain near Pay'quina. Along the entire length of the corridor, from Bolivia to Lima and Cuzco, are smaller hiding-places filled with treasures of gold and precious stone, the accumulations of many generations of Incas, the aggregate value of which is incalculable.
We have in our possession an accurate plan of the tunnel, the sepulcher, and the doors, given to us at the time by the old Peruvian. If we had ever thought of profiting by the secret, it would have required the co-operation of the Peruvian and Bolivian governments on an extensive scale. To say nothing of physical obstacles, no one individual or small party could undertake such an exploration without encountering the army of smugglers and brigands with which the coast is infested; and which, in fact, includes nearly the whole population. The mere task of purifying the mephitic air of the tunnel, which had not been entered for centuries, would also be a serious one. There, however, the treasure lies, and there, the tradition says, it will lie till the last vestige of Spanish rule disappears from the whole of North and South America.
Specifically, the actual warrant for this myth probably derives from Garcilaso de la Vega's report that the Inca made underground passages that connected the towers of Sacsayhuaman in a labyrinthine way: "They were built with so many streets and lanes, crossing each other in all directions, and making so many turns, that one might easily be lost as in a labyrinth, and not know how to get out." This limited information, strictly applicable only to the basement level of a single fortress, appears to be the genesis point for the myth of the continent-wide tunnels.
From here we see a gradual accretion of myth. Pizarro looked for isolated treasure chambers; these grew into a belief in connected underground treasure vaults under the Spanish. Blavatsky imagined a corridor connecting these vaults from Bolivia to Lima, and later writers kept expanding, combining and remixing elements to create a vast network of corridors, eventually running an imaginary one right up to Pizarro’s unseen treasure chambers. And all this occurred without anyone ever actually demonstrating that a single mile of this alleged system existed.
Did the Peruvians use underground chambers? Of course they did. Did they combine them into a network that stretched thousands of miles beneath South America with doors so cunning that for 500 years they have remained hidden? I doubt it. If you want to say it’s true, show me.
It’s like the carved Inca and pre-Inca false-doorframes in the mountain rocks that Childress claimed on Ancient Aliens are mystical portals to another dimension through which “the aliens” came and left again. If you want to believe that, take a running start and go on through to the other dimension. If you won’t do it, you don’t really believe it, and are just making stuff up.