Ingapirca, Not Quite Blown Away

Cuenca, Ecuador

In case you’re curious, we’re still in Baños, Ecuador at the moment. We’ve been here for 5 weeks. Don’t worry, the end of this week we’re really, this time for real, going to move on.

Ingapirca ruin, Ecuador

A couple of weeks ago, I left Jack behind in Baños while a girlfriend and I made a weekend trip to Cuenca.

On the agenda: visiting Ingapirca and having girls-only time.

First item on the agenda…

Unfortunately, for my first Inca ruin ever, Ingapirca turned out to be only mildly entertaining.

And that’s me being nice.

I guess I should’ve lowered my expectation. Ruins interest me very little. But it’s such a South American thing to do, visiting Inca ruins that is, that I couldn’t help feeling excited about the prospect. Besides, we just spent some of the most grueling 12 hours to get here. The kind of trip that includes vomitings and nose-bleeds.

Anyway, this is what Lonely Planet says about Ingapirca

“…is about as much fun as staring at a pile of rocks. For the easily impressed, it might be akin to having lunch with Atahualpa himself.”

Guess which category I belong to?

The thing is, very little is known about Ingapirca. I know if only they were stories to go with it, I’d have enjoyed it more.

Temple of the Sun, Ingapirca, Ecuador
Temple of the Sun, Ingapirca

It’s hard to appreciate a pile of rocks (trust me, I’ve tried), however impressive the masonry was, without some stories to go with them.

Why circular (or elliptical)? Why here? Who were some of the characters who lived there?

I wanted to hear about human sacrifices and about treacheries between the royal family members. I wanted to hear stories about love, betrayal, and conquests.

But instead all I got was a bunch of speculations.

We could not find the mythical English-speaking guide and attached ourselves to a local tour group. Even with our limited Spanish, we caught many ‘maybe’, ‘we think’, ‘we don’t know for sure’, ‘possibly’.

Ingapirca rock with holes, Ecuador
Maybe they filled with water and used it as some sort of a calendar. Maybe they used these holes to mix paint with. Who knows?

The museum attached to the site tells very little. Its lack of useful information reminds me a bit about the museum in Baños, but minus the fake blood and grimacing animals.

You’d think with $6 foreigner admission (spelled ‘foreing’ on the ticket), they can afford to display some information on the little items it has on display. Not to mention a spellchecker.

Ingapirca, ecuador

Even Wikipedia has only 4 paragraghs about the Ingapirca.

In the end, the fact remains that very little is known about the Cañari people who built the site at Ingapirca and the Incans who came later to occupy it.

Whatever stories, scandals, and dramas that this ruin must have been a background to are lost in history and quite possible will never surface again.

But the trip was not all wasted.

Fortunately, the second item on the agenda, having a girl-bonding time in one of the prettiest Colonial cities in Ecuador was a lot more successful.

Cuenca is a pretty cool city and it has things that Baños is lacking. Things like hookah bars and falafel stands.

Cheers to that.

Jill in Cuenca
Tell us:

How was your first ruin experience?

Admission to Ingapirca site: a hefty $6 a person
How to get there: From Cuenca, take a bus to El Tambo ($1.25 -2 hours), then take a bus to Ingapirca (50 cent – 30 mins).

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
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9 Replies to “Ingapirca, Not Quite Blown Away”

  1. As much as I hope we catch up to you so we can break bread and share stories, I really appreciate all the info we get by virtue of you two taking the lead! Great post. Keep 'em coming!

  2. That place looks like the ancient ruins of Canberra, Australia. If you've been to Canberra, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you've never been, don't go. Ever.

  3. Well… actually my home town has ruins… so I think the first time I saw the fort I was in the 3rd grade! And, it was pretty exciting to me then. Actually, I still really love that place!

  4. The first ruins I remember was visiting Mesa Verde National Park when I was a kid with my family. I still think the awe I felt upon that visit is one of the things that nurtured my current travel obsession.

    On a side note, I saw some amazing ruins in my month in Israel last year, but I did get some 'ruin fatigue' near the end of the trip. I've heard other people say that has happened to them, too.

  5. My first ruin experience was pretty cool because the site was very impressive. It was Ek' Balam in Mexico. Giant steep structures you could climb and a freshwater cenote to swim in too. 🙂

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