Ingapirca

Riobamba Travel Blog

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Wednesday we left Guayaquil and began our eight hour climb into the Andes. The Andes are the world’s youngest mountain chain and the world’s longest mountain chain (7245 km long). In the sky above us we saw Turkey Vultures gliding. Unlike other vultures, Turkey Vultures hunt by smell making them the first carrion birds to the site. Andean condors, the largest bird that can fly at 1.5m long and 3m wingspan (12kg), rely on sight and often use the sight of Turkey vultures spiralling down to detect food.

 

Up in the Andes we visited Ingapirca, “the Inca Wall”. The site actually predates the Incas, being set up as a religious complex around 900-1000 CE by the Cañar people. The Inca first came to the area between 1470-1480, in what was a peaceful alliance (further north the Inca influx caused war).

The oldest part of the complex is the Cañar Temple of the Moon, and the burials from this time were of people in the foetal position inside a pot, while the newer portion is the Incan Temple of the Sun, with burial in tombs. The corridor between the two was set up for the sun to travel down on the longest day of the year. All up around 200 people once lived in the temple complex, with many more in the surrounding farmland to support it.

 

Today a small farming village lives near the site. The farms all grew corn and had a few Alpacas. The Alpacas were mostly for the wool (they sold scarves for only $2), for meat the Guinea pigs was the main source, which lives in kitchens off food scapes, serving as both garbage disposal and main course. We had lunch there, a large meal of corn prepared in four different bland ways.

 

From Ingapirca we drove to Cuenca. We reached Cuenca on the Festival of Saint Anne, so the streets were packed with people enjoying themselves. In the main square they were letting off fireworks right in the middle of the crowd, with the bamboo guides falling back down to earth on top of us. They also built colourful square plastic cubes and tied small bundles of hay underneath them. They lit the hay and the hot air made the cube gradually rise into the sky as new stars, except for occasionally when the fire leapt up and caught the cube on fire.

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photo by: Adrian_Liston