Total distance travelled: 49,935.7 kilometres (31,015.96 miles)
After getting a very brief taste of some Incan ruins at Tomebamba, it merely whet the appetite for our day trip to follow, a day trip out to the apparently more substantial ruins of Ingapirca.
To kick off our journey, we were back at the Terminal Terrestre (Cuenca’s main bus terminal) where at 8:50am we were forced to rush out the door and catch our 9am bus before it pulled out of station.
I guess they were ready, so who (other than us at the time) doesn’t love a bus that leaves ahead of schedule?!
With that mini crisis averted, we were on board for the roughly hour long journey to the town of Ingapirca (home to the ruins of the same name).
It was one of those partly cloudy, windy days, so that whenever the Sun was obscured, a coat felt very necessary and when it randomly emerged, especially if you’d somehow found shelter from the breeze, you’d suddenly start to cook.
Frustrating, but at least it wasn’t raining.
After our bus deposited us outside the main office with advice that for the return trip the departure was closer to town, we promptly purchased our tickets, ready to see if this site, which appeared quite small from the outside (you can easily see it from town), had enough to fully occupy us for the 2 hours until the return bus.
The place was well signed and well kept, but we quickly realised we’d likely be twiddling our thumbs pretty soon as we don’t really care to dawdle.
Still, Ingapirca was obviously impressive in its pomp.
Apparently (or is that possibly) a location of religious and strategic importance (both a temple to the Sun and a fortified position), the structure that remains, mostly the bases of walls, allow a well defined map of how the site once lay.
It was however the largest item at Ingapirca that drew most of our attention, the commanding Templo del Sol.
As something that looked to my admittedly untrained eye decidedly Incan, it was a reminder that we were getting ever closer to the more impressive, more famous and as such, more popular ruins of Peru.
Having exhausted our entertainment in the ruins, we were resigned to simply finding somewhere to lunch in the hope of passing the hour and a bit that remained before we could begin the return to Cuenca.
All of a sudden another option emerged as we made our exit from the ruins, a sign and map indicating that there was a walk we could pursue, that took in a few more sites important to the regions indigenous inhabitants.
Just like that, we were following an initially poorly marked path (rather it was simply difficult to see as it passed over a huge rocky outcrop), that soon became a rather easy to follow dirt track.
The first few sights were just okay, a large rock that was partially carved to represent a tortoise, as well as some random rock paintings.
One piece however was both subtle and incredibly impressive.
Using the existing contours of the rock and some nice carving technique, there in the side of a cliff sits an Incan face!
This was a bit of a highlight for the day in truth, something that remained impressive when viewed from a few different locations.
Our side excursion to Ingapirca was by no means mind blowing, but nor what is difficult.
Ultimately, it was a pleasant day and a taste of things to come…
* A local bus from Cuenca to Ingapirca cost $3.00 US per person each way.
* Entrance to the Ingapirca ruins is $6.00 US per person, extra (down to your negotiation skills) if you care for a guide.
* The walking circuit (which includes the ‘Indians Face’) is FREE!