Planning the trip
After climbing a couple of mountains in the Ecuadorian Andes and doing some biking trips in northern Ecuador, Andreea (ROM) and I planned our next trip to the mountains. Weather wasn't the best for mountaineering... summer winds were increasing constantly and the possibility of enjoying the climbs and summits were getting reduced significantly in the following days.
So, we decided to do some hikes thru the central Andes. The first thing we had in mind was the 3 day- Inca Trail-hike (Camino Del Inca). A great way of relaxing after the last 10 busy days we had while guiding. Andreea and I got all the supplies ready for the hike: camping gear, food and groceries plus other yummy stuff.
On the way to Camino Del Inca
Andreea (ROM). Alausi Train Station.
We left home at 12:00 pm; both of us carrying our heavy loaded backpacks took a couple of buses to Quito's new main bus station in the southern part of the city. We jumped in the first bus leaving to Riobamba. After riding on it for about 4 hours we got to Riobamba's Bus Terminal. Once there we had lunch at a nearby restaurant and waited for our next bus to take us to the town of Alausi.
Our ride to Alausi was an adventure. We sat on the first row's seats.. the small bus was completely full of people, most of them drunk indigenous men leaving from a party. I remember looking at a indigenous young woman seated on the engine's platform carrying her baby on her back. The baby smiled at Andreea and me, licked his already melted ice cream up and let some of its sticky stuff fall on my laps. We got to Alausi by late afternoon, got a room in one of Alausi's best hotels and tried to get some sleep.
Did I just say Alausi's best hotels? Well, it also included some nocturnal mice that eat whatever you leave on the tray table and try to dig inside your backpack no matter what. Anyway, I guess in some way stuff like this makes a trip unforgettable too. Somehow, I had a good relaxing night after all (not Andreea).
Starting the hike (day 1)
Our day started around 10 am. Left the hotel and took a walk around the small town. Then, fifteen minutes before noon, Andreea and I got back to the hotel, grabbed our backpacks and caught the pickup truck leaving to the village of Achupallas.
The truck was full of villagers who talked about planning a welcome celebration for the Ecuadorian president. We made our way up to the highlands by a recent paved road. The view from the road to the deep steep valley was amazing. One and a half hours later the truck stopped. The next 2 Km of the road was under construction, the end of the ride. We got off the truck and continued walking with our backpacks and loads up to Achupallas which was visible in the distance.
As soon as we all got off, men started walking up towards the village, leaving their wives and women carrying their babies and loads helpless. A 2 meter - deep pipe canal cut the road in two and it had to be crossed in order to get to the village. Andreea and I crossed it without any problems and continued on our way up to Achupallas. We looked back for a moment and noticed women were having trouble crossing it with their loads and babies. So we went back and helped them out. I got down the canal and used my laps as a bridge for them, while Andreea pulled them out from the other side of the canal.
Once everybody was in the other side of the road we continued walking up. Got to Achupallas, bought spaghetti for dinner and hiked all the way up by the road. We got to the trailhead at 2 pm, organized our stuff very well in our backpacks and started the hike right away.
The afternoon was perfect, a clear blue sky formed a perfect contrast with the amazing green Andean valley, and as always, once again I felt so lucky of being there. We hiked for three hours that day, and set our tent up beyond some Inca remains (Cuchicorral). We spent a windy and rainy night in the tent (3,800 m / 12,464 ft.).
Andreea and I woke up at 9 am and left our camp 40 minutes later. The rain stopped and the only thing remaining from the night before was the wind. We headed up southwest to Laguna Tres Cruces, where we had a quick break, ate some cookies and put a couple more layers on us before continuing up to Cuchilla de Tres Cruces Ridge. The wind blew pretty hard at the ridge. Our hike by Cuchilla de Tres Cruces lasted 30 minutes, then we headed down by Quilloloma southern slopes.
Laguna Tres Cruces (day 2).
It took us 30 more minutes to get down to Quebrada Espindola valley. We crossed a small stream and continued southwest by Laguna Culebrillas eastern shores. We got to Paredones at 3 pm. We had to go through cattle which made us feel like in the middle of the bullfighting ring.
Bulls grazing near the trail.
Huge black bulls kept their eyes on us. I didn't want to play matador at that altitude so we kept hiking by the original Inca remains clearly visible on the ground. The hike continued by a swampy area, but it turned stony again soon after, hiked near some few scattered boulders and joined a thin path. We followed it, got to a flat field where we set up our camp (3,800 m / 12,464 ft.). The sunset colors reflected on the reservoir's surface and clouds were amazing.
We got up at 9 am again. Packed our stuff and tent up and started our hike towards the village of San Jose where we met some kids who wanted to play football with us. We shared our last snacks left with them and kept hiking southwest on a dirt road getting to Ingapirca Ruins, 3 hours later.
Once in Ingapirca, Andreea and I ate at the complex restaurant, then visited the museum and got into the complex. After hanging out around the ruins we set our tent up at a nearby field. Llamas visited our tent and hung out around us for a while. The afternoon colors were great, but even more spectacular were those during the next first morning hours.
I got up at 5:30 am next morning... and waited for sunrise. One hour later, Ingapirca ruins turned from a dark pale color into orange. The complex was still closed but I got in and took some pics of the ruins being hit by the first day's sunrays. It was a beautiful scenery, the Inca walls in orange color, the llamas hanging out around Temple of the Sun, and crowd less... I couldn't ask for more!
Andreea and I got back to Quito late at night. A long journey back home, we really enjoyed this trip from the start, but specially the last day at the ruins, so colorful and amazing. We completed the hike in 14 hours total time in 3 days.
Temple of the sun. Ingapirca
Andreea and I went back to the Inca trail one week later and guided to Heidi and Gerhard, both of them from Germany. We hiked the whole trail in 3 days, 17 hours total hiking time. I acknowledge our hard worker mule driver's effort... Luis, who helped us greatly with his mules, cooking and by setting up camps while we were guiding.
Some InformationInca Road to Ingapirca
-Duration : 3 days
-Difficulty : Easy - moderate
-Season : June to April
-Fees and Permits : None for trek, USD; 6,00 for Ingapirca Inca Site
-Transport : Pick up or bus to start, bus from finish.
- Follow Inca road remnant through mountain and lake country of Ecuador's best - preserved Inca site.