The Inca Trail in Ecuador

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Exploring the Inca Trail in Ecuador

An Adventure from Achupallas to Ingapirca

 

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Ecuador’s Andean highlands? Join us as we explore the fascinating Inca Trail from Achupallas to Ingapirca, a route rich with history, breathtaking landscapes, and cultural heritage.

This 3-day trek, is perfect for terravelers seeking adventure and a deep connection with the past.

Achupallas to Tres Cruces

 

Arrival in Achupallas

Our adventure begins early in the morning as we arrive in the quaint village of Achupallas, located at an elevation of 3,350 meters (10,990 feet). This small Andean village is the starting point of our trek. Here, we meet our guide, two muleteers, two sturdy mules, and a horse that will accompany us on our journey. The mules will carry our equipment, making our trek more comfortable, while the horse offers an option for those needing a break from walking.

The Trek Begins

After a hearty breakfast and a final equipment check, we set off on the trail. The initial part of the trek takes us through picturesque farmlands and past traditional adobe houses. The air is crisp and fresh, and the sound of the river accompanies us as we gradually ascend.

Lunch by the River

As we progress, we find a perfect spot by the river to rest and enjoy a packed lunch. This is a great time to hydrate, refuel, and take in the stunning scenery around us. The guide shares stories of the Inca Empire and the significance of this ancient trail, which was once a vital link in the vast network of roads connecting the empire.

 

Climbing to Tres Cruces

The afternoon trek is more challenging as we ascend towards Tres Cruces, a mountain pass at approximately 4,200 meters (13,780 feet). The trail becomes steeper, and the vegetation changes as we gain altitude. Our guide ensures we take regular breaks to acclimatize and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Camp at Tres Cruces

As the sun begins to set, we reach our campsite at Tres Cruces. This is a truly magical place, where three crosses mark the spot and the vistas are breathtaking. Our muleteers set up camp, and we gather around a warm campfire to share stories and enjoy a well-deserved dinner. The night sky, free from light pollution, offers a spectacular display of stars.

 

Through the wilderness

 

The trek continues…

The second day begins with an early breakfast by the lake, as the sun rises over the Andean peaks. After packing up camp, you will continue your trek, following the ancient Inca Trail through high-altitude grasslands known as páramo. The morning hike is invigorating, with the fresh mountain air and the sight of wild alpacas grazing in the distance.

Exploring the Ruins of Paredones

By noon, you will reach the archaeological site of Paredones. These ruins, believed to be an ancient Inca tambo (rest stop), offer a glimpse into the past with their well-preserved stone structures. Here, you will have lunch and take some time to explore the site, learning about its historical significance from your knowledgeable guide.

Trek to the Second Campsite

In the afternoon, the trail continues through diverse landscapes, including highland marshes and rocky outcrops. The terrain is varied, keeping the hike interesting and dynamic. Your guide will point out the unique flora and fauna of the region, enriching your understanding of this incredible ecosystem. By late afternoon, you will arrive at your second campsite, situated in a scenic valley.

 

Relaxation and Reflection

As the day draws to a close, you will settle into your campsite, enjoying another hearty meal prepared by the muleteers. The evening is a time for relaxation and reflection, sharing stories with your fellow terravelers and marveling at the serenity of the Andean wilderness.

Final Stretch to Ingapirca

 

The last steps

The final day of your trek begins with an early start, as you prepare for the last stretch of the journey. After breakfast, you will set out on the trail, making your way through verdant valleys and ancient pathways. The anticipation builds as you approach your final destination, the Inka ruins of Ingapirca.

Arrival at Ingapirca

Around noon, you will arrive at the magnificent site of Ingapirca, Ecuador’s largest and most significant Inka ruins. The name “Ingapirca” means “Inca wall” in Quechua, and the site is renowned for its impressive stone masonry and the Temple of the Sun. Here, you will have a guided tour, delving into the history and architecture of this remarkable site. You will also enjoy a well-deserved lunch, surrounded by the ancient walls and terraces.

Exploring Ingapirca

The afternoon is dedicated to exploring Ingapirca at your leisure. Take your time to wander through the ruins, capturing photos and soaking in the rich history of the Inca Empire. The site’s strategic location and well-preserved structures provide a fascinating insight into the past, making it a highlight of your trek.

 

Return to Civilization

As evening approaches, you will begin your journey back to civilization. A vehicle will be waiting to transport you back to Riobamba (or Cuenca), where you can reflect on the incredible experiences of the past three days. The trek from Achupallas to Ingapirca is not just a hike; it’s a journey through time, culture, and the stunning landscapes of the Ecuadorian Andes.

Trekking the Inca Trail from Achupallas to Ingapirca is an adventure that combines physical challenge with cultural enrichment. Accompanied by a dedicated team, including muleteers, mules, a guide, and a horse, you will traverse diverse landscapes, explore ancient ruins, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Andean highlands.

This three-day journey offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and history, making it an unforgettable experience for any terraveler seeking adventure and discovery. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on a trek that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

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