The indigenous cultures of Latin America first attracted me (Kari) to Central and South America over 20 years ago. My travels in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru took me on some fantastic adventures to many archaeological sites. So, I obviously wanted to see more ruins here in Ecuador.
Chad, his parents, the girls and I headed to the Cañari and Inca ruins of Ingapirca. No 4 days of trekking through the jungle in Guatemala or 4 days hiking up and down the Inca Trail in Peru for us (though it can also be done here in Ecuador). We simply took an hour and a half bus ride north to Ingapirca.
Ingapirca is the most important Inca construction in Ecuador. Ingapirca means “wall of the Inca”. It was built in the 16th century, just before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It is important to note, though, that the Cañari people had resided in this area for centuries. The Inca “conquered” the Cañari by marrying one of their princesses, but both groups tended to keep their cultures separate.
Ingapirca doesn’t inspire the same magnitude of awe as Peru’s Machu Picchu, but nonetheless, the precision with which the Inca constructed their temples is impressive.
Here’s a view of Ingapirca with the Temple of the Sun in the background.
Archaeologists believe that this was an administrative, religious, and ceremonial center.
The remains of ten men and women were found here in these graves, along with stone and ceramic offerings.
Trails connected Ingapirca to other areas of the Inca Empire, and you can still see the trail here.
Rocks, Rocks Everywhere!
I thought these rocks were interesting because I’d never seen anything like them at other ruins I’ve visited. Our guide explained that the Cañari used these for some sort of calendar or astronomical instrument.
And here is another kind of stone found in many places throughout the world, grinding stones.
The Inca made these blocks from stones they harvested from a quarry 1 kilometer away. Throughout the centuries locals hauled off the blocks for their own homes and stores, but now archaeologists have collected them here.
Temple of the Sun
Chad was my model as we approached the Temple of the Sun.
I remember reading about the precision of the Inca walls in my high school textbooks. You can’t fit a nickel between the cracks. I am still in awe when I see them.
After reaching the Temple of the Sun, we headed up the hillside for a picturesque picnic lunch.
Archaeologists aren’t sure why the Inca chose this exact site for the Temple of the Sun. We loved our picnic spot with views of the ruins with the patchwork of farms on the mountainsides.
Before we left, the girls wanted their picture taken with an Inca. This man kindly volunteered, though it was hard to get him to crack a smile.
After our day trip to Ingapirca, we headed to the city of Cañar to catch another bus north. We were off to explore more of Ecuador. More posts to come!