What was the sea route generally used by Francisco Pizarro and his contemporaries to go from Spain to Peru (and back)?

Was it:

I know that the first route was used the first time they went to Peru and that the second was feared by navigators at the time. I also noticed that the second route is not mentioned in the "Spanish treasure fleet" Wikipedia.

  • 1
    Have you Googled "conquest of Peru"? google.ca/… Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 22:51
  • @PieterGeerkens did you read the whole question? The link you pasted and its map showed the conquest of Peru. As my question suggests we know they used the Panama route initially but afterwards a lot of travels were made between Lima and Spain and the document you pasted does not give any indication what route was generally used.
    – Polk
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


The original route was across the isthmus from Nombre de Dios to Panama City. Later, the city of Portobelo, which is near to Nombre de Dios, became the Caribbean hub for the south seas. The road between Portobelo and Panama City was called Camino Real. The South Sea fleet of the Spanish crown operated between Panama City and two ports in Peru: Arica and Callao. To get the fleet to Panama City it had to be sailed through the Straits of Magellan, a dangerous journey. Panama City had been founded by Pedro Aria Davila in 1519 a few years after Balboa had made the first expedition in 1513 to the South Sea, which later became known as the Pacific Ocean. Francisco Pizarro had been a soldier in Balboa's expedition and used the newly founded Panama City as a base for his conquest of Peru. The routes of his main expeditions are as follows:

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  • This is initial route they took to conquer Peru (see my question). But after Lima was founded and they had to carry all the goods from Lima to Spain and back, was the route from Lima to Spain through Magellan Strait or did they go to Panama (crossing the isthmus by land transportation) and then from Panama to Spain? (I ask this because even if they had to land-cross Panama with the goods, the route through the Magellan Strait is much much longer).
    – Polk
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 19:04
  • All cargo went through the isthmus on the backs of burros and mules. Read the first sentence of my answer: "The original route was across the isthmus from Nombre de Dios to Panama City." I hope that it is clear: THE CARGO WAS CARRIED ACROSS THE ISTHMUS. As far as the route to Lima is concerned, ships never went directly back to Spain from Panama. They almost always stopped at other waypoints such as Havana or Cartegena. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 19:06
  • 2
    Looking for Nombre de Dios lead to me to this wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Silver_Train : "The Spanish Silver Train was an improvised trail used to transport silver from Potosí, Peru across Isthmus of Panama in order to ship it to Spain via Spanish treasure fleet. The silver was usually unloaded in Panama City, then put in mule trains and taken first to Nombre de Dios, and then, following the demise of that city in the late sixteenth century, to Portobello."
    – Polk
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 21:37

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