martes, 31 de marzo de 2009

Qhapaq Ñan

This time we followed an invitation by the Centro de Investigaciones Turísticas (CEITUR) of the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja to explore the Qhapaq Ñan (English: Great Inca Road, or Main Andean Road) in the area between Cañar and Saraguro in Ecuador. The Qhapaq Ñan constituted the principal north-south highway of the Inca Empire travelling 6000 km along the peaks of the Andes between Quito in the north and Mendoza in the south along the spine of the Andes linking a network of roads over 23,000km in length connecting various production, administrative and ceremonial centres. For the past three years the World Heritage Centre has been assisting in a pioneering project: the preparation of a single nomination for the inclusion of Qhapaq Ñan in the World Heritage List involving six participating countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. During our 5 days of travel we explored several archaeological sites such as Ingapirca, Cojitambo and Chobshi which form part of the Qhapaq Ñan and learned a lot about the history and the cultures of the area including the Inca, Cañari and Saraguro.

For more information on the Qhapaq Ñan please see:

For more information on the UNESCO project please see:

viernes, 13 de marzo de 2009

Llanganatis Expedition

The mountainous labyrinth of Llanganatis National Park in the east of Ambato city is fabled in legends and obscured by mystery. Ancient chronicles tell a story of hidden Inca treasure. This gold treasure was to be paid to the Spaniards as ransom for the Inca king, but when it was known he had already been killed, more than 1000 men quickly carried the gold to Llanganatis to secret it away from the Conquistadors. Since colonial times, famous explorers and treasure-hunters have launched numerous expeditions in an effort to find the legendary treasure, but without success. In fact because of the inhospitable environment and infamous fog banks many of the treasure seekers have never returned...

Unlike many of the other mountainous regions of Ecuador, Llanganatis is not of volcanic origin, but is rather the result of tectonic plate movement. The area is characterised predominantly by Páramo (grassy and marshy Andean Highlands) and is home to the condor, tapirs and the spectacled bear. Its highest point is the top of Cerro Hermoso at 4570m. Because of its inaccessibility and foggy weather, this extraordinary region is relatively unknown, a great reason for us to go and explore the area.

We drove down from Quito on the Pan-American Highway through Ambato on to the little village Pillaro. From here the road goes to the east and passing the famous Hacienda Huagra Huasi where bulls are bred for bullfighting to Lake Pisayambo. Here we started our hike into the mountains.

We spend 6 days exploring this largely undiscovered region hiking most of the time through coarse weather conditions. Nevertheless during short moments of clear sights and even sun! the magic of this beautiful area becomes apparent.

The Llanganatis are in some publications, especially older ones, also called Llanganates or Llanganati.

For further Information on the treasure and the legends of the Llanganatis we recommend the following homepage:
For further reading we recommend the book “Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon” by Peter Lourie.

Note: If you decide to explore the Llanganatis yourself we strongly recommend going with professional assistance. An experienced tour operator covering this area is