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Exploring Ingapirca: Ecuador’s Largest Inca Ruins

This new post is part of our new series of Ecuador side trips. Today, we are talking about Ingapirca – the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.


What Does Ingapirca Mean?

Ingapirca is a Kichwa word meaning “Inca wall”. The name applies to the inca ruins and also to the small town where they are located.

Ingapirca is located in Cañar Province, Ecuador – just over an hour north of the city of Cuenca, in the Andes Mountains. The ruins are at an elevation of 10,200 feet (3100 meters).

Ingapirca Travel Tip

At such a high elevation, it can be cold there. And the weather can change quickly. Be sure to bring a sweater or warm jacket.

What Can You See At Ingapirca?

The site has been restored, and the grounds are well groomed. Most of the ruins are just that – foundations of buildings and homes. When the Spanish armies invaded Ecuador, they tore down the complex at Ingapirca. During recent excavations, the ruins were uncovered and restored.

The tour guide brings this site to life, explaining the history of Ecuador’s indigenous people, and the invading Inca and Spanish armies. You’ll learn about their customs, culture and daily life.


The original freestanding house at Ingapirca


Landscape view at Ingapirca

In addition to the ruins, there is a functioning museum that displays artifacts found during the restoration.


Museum, ticket booth, interpretation center and llama enclosure at the Ingapirca Complex.

Can I See Llamas?

Yes, but they aren’t running loose anymore. There is a llama enclosure (see above photo) that you’ll walk by as you enter the complex. While they used to be free to roam, they were actually damaging the ruins. Recently, they were contained in order to protect the archaeological site.

While Ingapirca isn’t as large (or as famous) as Machu Picchu, it does make a great add-on to your Galapagos adventure. You can easily add the excursion to either the beginning or end of your trip. Cuenca is just a few hours by van from Guayaquil.

Getting to Ingapirca

Driving north from Cuenca, you’ll pass through a number of small towns, including Biblián, Cañar and Azogues. There is a rise in elevation and you’ll see scenes from typical rural life in Ecuador.

Interested to visit Ingapirca? Check out all of our mainland Ecuador programs.

About the author: Bryan Haines Hi, I’m Bryan Haines! I’m a traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I’m a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I am co-founder of Click Like This a photo tutorial blog.

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