Thursday, October 15, 2009


Ingapirca is the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador.

It's actually a combo of Canari and Inca ruins, located a couple hours ride north of Cuenca.

This week we set out with our friends Bruce and Charlie to see them.

During the drive, we caught up on all the news and enjoyed the beautiful, high-altitude landscapes of the Cajas National Forest.
The ruins are at 10,595 ft, higher than Quito at about 9500 ft. (Cuenca is about 8300 ft).

A few slow-downs on the road...

We also saw 'fieldwork', both hand-plowing with oxen and modern tractors. Very black (volcanic) soil!

Livestock (cows and sheep) were tethered in the fields and along the road (no fences). Workers were tending the livestock, and, we think, also milking the cows in the fields.

The little towns on the way are fairly unremarkable, except for the colorful native clothing.

Kids in uniforms returning from school.

We were pleasantly surprised that our cedulas (residency cards) gave us a discount on the entry fee. It's $2 with the card vs. $6 without.

Llama alert! Several llamas live on the site and wander freely.

We easily located an English-speaking guide at the site (works for tips). He told us the stories...

The Canari people have been in the area way before the Incas arrived. After the Incan conquest, the Incas built Ingapirca (a fortress/temple complex) right next to/on top of the Canaris' sacred place.
Both the Canaris and the Incans were proficient in ceramics and textiles; they worked along side each other at the complex (which only housed about 90 people.) "Paint' for the artists included llama blood from sacrificed animals. The Guide told us that they only sacrificed animals, but we're not sure...The Canaris were formidable, proud and very hard to assimilate into the Incan culture. But, the 2 groups did eventually inter-marry and co-existed fairly peacefully until the Spanish arrived. The combination of the 2 cultures still exist today.
When the Spanish arrived, some of Ingapirca was dismantled and the stones and other building materials were used for the new churches and buildings in the area... Facinating history, you can google for more info.

The guide showed us the different wall-building processes... Canaris used river rock with 'mortar'; the Incas used volcanic rock without mortar. The Incas were highly skilled at fitting the stones so close as to not need the 'glue'... you cannot slip a knife blade between the stones. Amazing.

Incan wall.

Trapezoidal shapes for windows and doors provided some protection against earthquake damage.

A reconstruction of a typical building, with straw roof and grinding stones in the middle of the single room...This small room housed about 4 families.

Straw Ceiling, held together with fiber from the agave plant.

Our Guide telling us about the agave plant. Canari stonework in the background.

Jaw-dropping views...

A llama is enjoying the view, too.

(Church in background.)

Tourists in front of the sun temple.

On the way UP to see more views (and the Inca Face, a rock formation), we passed a worker's house. The lady was doing laundry by hand outside, while another family member carried bundles of grass into the house.

On the way back, we noticed she was talking on a cell phone and we could see a TV on through a window. A nice blend of old and new.

Another llama alert! We wanted this picture to look like Nancy was close enough to this llama to pet her...

But, she really wasn't (trick of the camera angle).

Ms. Llama is pretty tame, but definitely didn't want anyone that close as she ate grass. We stayed our distance so we wouldn't worry her. She's beautiful!

Here's Charlie, making a new friend, too:

There is also a museum on site (which we'll visit next time...admission is $4 without cedula), a small restaurant serving typical food (our driver bought an ear of sweet corn and some cheese for $1.00), and a small gift shop (we bought colorful, embroidered shirts).

We finished the day at one of our favorite Italian restaurants back in Cuenca. * Pasta all around, no ice cream, but there's always next time!

* (Restaurant is: Bertuchi's, Av. Unidad Nacional #30 y Padua.
Tel: 4091265, 2889297)

Another fun (and educational!) day!


  1. Hola Clarke and Brenda!

    We hired a taxi for the day, but you can easily take the bus, too.

    Fun day!

    ==N and R