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This site was very important to the Cañari nation and further developed by the Incas, presumably as part of their subjugation tactics as they gained control of the area. It is the premier Inca site in Ecuador but less interesting than a lot of the ruins in Peru.

Ingapirca means ‘Wall of the Inca’ but it’s not entirely clear how the site functioned. The most impressive structure is a platform known as the Castle (el Castillo) which was possibly an observatory or a sun temple. It is the only elliptical construction found in the Inca kingdom and the mortarless stonework is really impressive. Around this you can see some sloping doorways and store rooms but most of the stones from the other structures were stolen years ago, so you have to look at the layout of the foundations and use your imagination to imagine how the various storerooms, barracks, baths and elite quarters would have appeared.

Another interesting part is Pilaloma, in the south-west corner of the site. No-one is sure how this area was used but archaeologists imagine it had some ceremonial function. In the centre there is a large semi-oval standing stone and on the ground next to it several small stones have been arranged in a circle. This marks a tomb where the remains of 11 bodies (women and at least one man) were found. One woman was adorned with copper, bones, shells and buried with jugs and cloth.

Ingapirca was never ‘lost’ but was left in an abandoned condition for many years. The site was carefully restored by various working groups between 1966 and 1983.

At the exit to the site you can continue straight along a path which leads up past various sculptures in outcrops and large boulders. It’s not that easy to make out what the sculptures are about (one is a game, one a seat, one a turtle (it doesn’t look like anything to me ) and probably the most impressive is an ‘Inca’ face in a cliff. Still, it’s a pleasant 20 minute circular walk with nice views of the valley and cascading water.


It costs $2 for Ecuadorian and foreign visitors to enter the park. Under 16’s and over 65’s pay 50 cents. Children under 2 years old don’t have to pay.

There are guides available and also a simple but informative museum with displays in Spanish only.

Sleeping, Eating and Shopping

On the track alongside the main site you can find a few shops selling souvenirs and some cafés and restaurants. A slightly more expensive but smarter place to have lunch is at the Ingapirca Inn, a little way uphill from the museum. You can also stay there.
Click here to find out Where to Stay and Where to Eat near Ingapirca.


You can catch a bus to Ingapirca directly from Cuenca or Cañar. Alternatively you can wait in El Tambo which is the nearest town on the Panamericana and has regular connections. It may be necessary to walk back to the village of Ingapirca, about 1km down the road, to catch your return bus. There are a few places to eat and stay but nothing really to detain you.

The views across the valley between Ingapirca and the Panamericana are magnificent. Sit on the left of the bus going back to El Tambo.

If you are driving you may wish to take the 16km road from Cañar to Ingapirca but only for the rural views. The road is winding and full of pot holes. (it is also virtually traffic free and could make a nice walk). It is much quicker to take to the road from El Tambo.

A popular trek is to follow the Inca road south from Achupallas to Ingapirca. Click here for more information.


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