We took the bus company Trans Cañar to visit Ingapirca.
We got a later start than planned and didn’t get to the Terminal Terrestre (Bus Terminal) in Cuenca until 11:10 AM. We took a taxi there for $1.25 from the center of the city.
The Trans Cañar bus didn’t leave until 12:20.
- The lady for Trans Cañar told us that the bus wouldn’t leave for a while when we bought the tickets.
- What she didn’t tell us is that the journey to Ingapirca from Cuenca takes nearly 3 hours (not 2 as we’d previously been told).
- She also didn’t tell us that the last Trans Cañar bus from Ingapirca (which is the only bus with a direct route back to Cuenca) leaves Ingapirca at 3:50.
Because we had an hour and were hungry, we asked someone if he knew of a “nice” restaurant nearby.
He sent us to Pio Pio, a South American equivalent of KFC.
It wasn’t what I would consider a “nice” restaurant, but the chicken was good and pretty cheap.
We got on the Trans Cañar bus and it left on time. However, the bus took nearly 3 hours.
This means that our bus arrived at the ruins at 3:10 PM, and left at 3:50 PM.
40 minutes total.
Not exciting, but we didn’t know before we left.
As is the case with nearly every bus we’ve been on in Central and South America, our Trans Cañar bus picked up (and dropped off) a lot of people on the way.
At one point, when the bus was particularly crowded, an older indigenous woman got on the bus. Before I’d had a chance to offer her my seat (because she would have had to stand), she sat down on my lap.
Well, okay… But at least introduce yourself first! (She never actually did introduce herself, but then, neither did I…)
5 ½ hours of bus time for 45 minutes of Incan and Kanari ruins.
That’s about a 6 to 1 ratio.
This is the largest bus-time-to-attraction ratio we’ve had in 7 months of travel.
(The bus-time-to-attraction ratio is something I think we may use going forward… it’s the amount of time you have to spend on a bus (or other transportation) in travel time there and back, vs. the amount of actual time you spend at the event or attraction you’re going to see.) There’s no question in my mind that 6:1 is the largest ratio we’ve ever had.
On the plus side, I would still say visiting Ingapirca was worth it.
We got a guide in Spanish (by choice) and understood 99% of the WHOLE 30 minute tour. Our Spanish skills have REALLY improved.
Okay… so on to the ruins:
This spot at Ingapirca was first home to Kanari people who inhabited and build in this area from 1,000 BC to about 500 AD. Then the Incans came through and built on top of the Kanari area.
Researchers know this because the Kanari built their homes and temples in circles, while the Incans built in squares and rectangles.
The two blend together in a few places at Ingapirca, but it’s really visible in the main structure at Ingapirca.
This is a large temple which was constructed around a boulder that was already protruding from the hillside.
The blocks they cut for the temple fit so well together that no mortar was necessary.
Even today, 1500 years later, there’s still no possibility of getting anything between them. It’s absolutely amazing to see, and marvel at how they must have been able to do this kind of laser-quality cutting work with such precision.
- When you get to the entrance of Ingapirca, mention that you are a student for a $3 entrance (instead of a $6 entrance). The $3 student entrance also includes a guide for free.
- When you go to Ingapirca Ruins, you will want to give yourself more time than we did… like a half day or a full day. Our 45 minutes definitely was NOT enough time, and we weren’t able to see all of it.
- Private transport ranges from $45-$60/person, without park entry (of $6/person). By contrast, our bus cost us $5/person, but took a little longer and gave us a lot of the local flavor (and smell as well). We liked it, but it’s not the way everyone prefers to travel. If you do want the less expensive and more local route, rather than a private transport, take the early bus from the terminal terrestre (bus company again is Trans Cañar) so that you won’t have to rush through the experience. Ingapirca really is an amazing place.
- You can stay the night at Ingapirca, at a place called Posada Ingapirca (or perhaps one of the local townspeople would take you in for the night), but we don’t necessarily recommend it. Of course, we didn’t try it, but in the 45 minutes we were there, we heard very loud animals ranging from llamas in heat and fighting for dominance (quite funny to watch, but also quite noisy), birds, cows, roosters, dogs, and sheep. If you don’t mind these sounds (some people actually enjoy them – who ARE these people?), staying in Ingapirca (the “modern” city near the ruins) might be something you would like (just don’t expect to have a lot of services there).