Inca Road to Ingapirca

  • All roads lead to the middle - © Flickr User - Wendy
  • Ingapirca - © William Mackesy
  • By Ingapirca - © William Mackesy
  • Above Ingapirca - © William Mackesy
  • Ingapirca - © Flickr User - Art DiTommaso
  • Rainbow, Countryside near Ingapirca - © Flickr User - Mulligan Stu

Key information: Inca Road to Ingapirca

  • This trail follows a stretch of the Inca road system to Incapirca for 3 days. There are some preserved paved sections of Inca road, but much of the way you will be on a 'normal' track on the course of the old road.
  • You will be in high, remote country for most of the way, with lovely vegetation, Inca remains and (often) superb views to enjoy as you progress.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating91
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest14
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating91
  • Note: Negs: Altitude

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 40 km (ish)
  • 3 days
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,400m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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By Ingapirca - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The Incas ruled what is now Ecuador for a mere 50 years or so, yet they achieved so much. They had conquered the country by 1500, having defeated the Canari inhabitants around Cuenca in the 1490s. They were themselves overwhelmed by the Spanish in 1533.

The Canaris had been a loose federation of tribes in the south for hundreds of years, and had bitterly resisted the Incas and later allied themselves with the Spanish invaders against the Incas. Their capital in what is now Cuenca became the site of the Incas' new northern capital.

The Incas quickly built a complex of sites and roads across their new territory, including a remarkable complex at Incapirca, which had for perhaps 500 years been a Canari site. Incapira is a fascinating testament to the Incas' dynamism and sophistication (despite being illiterate). It is the finest surviving Inca site in Ecuador. (See our Inca Trails [link] page for more information.)

This trail follows a stretch of the Inca road system (from Quito to Cuenca to Cuzco), approaching Incapirca in 3 days. There are some preserved paved sections of Inca road, but much of the way you will be on a 'normal' track on the course of the old road, even if not visibly so.

You will be in high, remote country for most of the way, with lovely vegetation, Inca remains and (often) superb views to enjoy as you progress.

Start at Achupallas (at 3,350m), some 25km above dramatically sited Alausi on the Panamerican Highway (get there by 4WD/truck, possibly by bus).


There are various ways you can break up the journey, but here is the most commonly used version:

Day 1: Achupallas to Laguna Las Tres Cruces: a long, steady climb up a valley, from 3,350m to 4,250m. Fine scenery throughout and you will pass an Inca site. High-level (following the original road) or valley-bottom options. 5-7 hours.

Day 2: Laguna Las Tres Cruces to Paredones: climb to the high Cuchilla de Tres Cruces ridge at 4,400m, then, after a fine but in places exposed ridge with stunning views, descend to Paradones, a substantial Inca administrative centre, at 3,980m. You will encounter some well-preserved original Inca road, and cross a bridge on Inca foundations. 5 hours or less, so time to enjoy the superb area.

Day 3: Paredones to Incapirca: traverse high paramo, then descend through fields and isolated houses to Incapirca, a slightly bathetic finale: a reasonable-sized site with shops and carpark nearby, sitting on a low hilltop near a town, rather than the thrilling dawn arrival at vast Machu Picchu in all its remote mountainous glory. (Peru's Inca Trail this is not.)

You will need to camp and bring your own food, so come properly prepared. Beware of campsite thievery. Hiring a guide and horses would both add a lot to your knowledge and safety, and, at this altitude, to your pleasure unless you are thoroughly acclimatized.

You can walk a day on this trail, from Laguna Culebrias (accessible by 4WD/truck from El Tambo) to San Jose, some 9.8 km, crossing a pass at 4,080m. Inspect Paredones, enjoy some stunning landscape, sniff the tang of the trails.

While a popular hike, this is tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather, where altitude can cause problems. Come fully prepared, including proper acclimatization.

ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

Membership is FREE AND JOINING TAKES 30 SECONDS. To login or sign up click here

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Above Ingapirca - © William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Ingapirca - © Flickr User - Art DiTommaso...
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