Ingapirca Excursion: An Andean Sidetrip Near Cuenca

Cuenca, Ecuador Side-trips, Places to See

This post is part of our new series of Ecuador side trips. Today, we are talking about the Ingapirca excursion.

Ecuador is a beautiful country with an interesting history and a colorful culture. On our trip to Ingapirca we saw some of both.

An Andean Road Trip

We drove from Cuenca in the province of Azuay to the province of Azogues. We passed through towns like Biblián and Cañar on our way to Ingapirca. The landscape was beautiful! We saw mountains, rivers, valleys and rolling hills. The drive is just over an hour.

As we drove through the towns our guide explained interesting facts about the towns and the customs of the local people. We saw many people dressed in their cultural skirts, blouses and hats. As the guide explained some of the customs related to the clothing, we found it fascinating and couldn’t stop asking questions.

We learned that for the Cañari people their hats signify whether they are single or married. If married the pom-poms are worn in the back, if single they are worn in the front. We were also told that only the Cañari people can wear these hats. People from other cultures are not permitted to wear them unless it’s for a special dance or event.

A painting of a young Cañari woman and (possibly) her sister

The bright colors seen in their cultural dress can represent the colors of the rainbow. In the past, the local people worshiped the rainbow and incorporated it into their clothing.

In the town of Biblián, we were taken to a look-off point near a large stone church. The church is built into the side of the mountain and overlooks the entire town.


Ingapirca is the name of a town and of the Inca ruins found there.

When we arrived, we saw llamas near the gift shop/registration center. We also saw the Inca ruins and it’s many stone foundations spread out on the sloping field. The first people to build on this spot were the Cañari and then the Inca.

One of the first things we learned about was a beautiful plant: Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmanisa Sanguinea). The guide explained that the Cañari and Inca people used the flowers from the plant as a hallucinogen in their worship and medical practices.

As we walked through the ruins, the guide explained about the culture and customs of the Cañari and Inca people.

We also saw the difference in the Cañari and Inca building styles. Although they used the same type of stone, the Cañari didn’t cut and polish it in the same way. The Cañari also used a type of mortar to join the stones. The Inca cut and polished the stones with such precision that they fit together without the need for mortar.

The Cañari style

The Inca style

The stones were cut and placed in a special way to ensure that in case of an earthquake they could absorb the tremors and the building would remain standing.

I loved seeing the color and texture of the stones.

A Traditional Lunch

After touring Ingapirca, we were looking forward to getting some lunch and warming up a bit. It was chilly exploring the ruins.

We went to a nice restaurant about a three minute drive from the ruins. The restaurant was in a traditional adobe home. We sat by a crackling fire and enjoyed some local food. It was cozy and the food was delicious.

It was an amazing trip and we learned a lot.

Have you been to Ingapirca? Please tell us what you thought by commenting on this post.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Dena Haines! I'm an traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment