Ingapirca – On the Inca trail



Ingapirca shortfacts

Ingapirca is the largest archeological Inca site in Ecuador and part of the famous Inca Trail. It was first built by the Cañaris, for the cult of the moon, and then overtaken by the Incas to praise the sun. The Temple of the Sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. Most of this chamber has fallen down.

How to go to Ingapirca

Ingapirca is easy to reach from Cuenca by bus (from the Terminal Terrestre) on a day trip. There are two options: take a direct bus, or go to El Tampo first then take another local bus. Both options cost the same: $3.50 for the direct bus, and US$2.75 + US$0.75 for the local buses. We recommend you to take the direct bus to save a lot of time. Unfortunately, they run only twice per day at 9am and 1pm.

By the way the city bus in Cuenca costs only US$0.25. So it is definitely the cheapest way to get from your hostel to the Terminal Terrestre.

Visit of Ingapirca

Incas were praising the sun, but it didn’t help that day. Rain and fog welcomed us in Ingapirca. The ticket price includes a guided tour (in Spanish or English). It is not allowed to visit the site without guide anyway. We paid only US$2.00, but it seems that the regular price for gringos is US$6.00. Maybe because it was low season. After only 15 min of waiting, our tour began. The guide was really good, and gave us a lot of explanations about the Cañaris and the Incas, and about their rituals. The guided tour took 45 min. The Ingapirca site is only as big as a football field. After the visit, the guide showed us a trail on the left of the exit. After 5 min walking down the path, we could see a face in the rock, which is called the Inca Face.

What to bring – the Ingapirca Packing List

  • Small backpack (with backpack cover)
  • Cap
  • Sun glasses
  • Scarf
  • Rain jacket/ wind breaker
  • Bottle of water
  • Sun cream
  • Camera
  • Mobile phone
  • Cash
  • Passport
  • Snacks
  • Lot of patience! (for the local bus ride)

What budget to plan for Ingapirca

This was our budget (per person) for Ingapirca

  • Ticket (with the guided tour in English or Spanish): US$2.00
  • Transport:
    • Cuenca > El Tambo: US$2.75
    • El Tambo > Ingapirca: US$0.75
    • Ingapirca > Cuenca: US$3.50

Total: US$9.00


Of course Ingapirca is not the Machu Pichu, but it is still worth the trip if you are staying a few days in Cuenca. It took us a long time to get there (three hours!), so we recommend you to take the direct bus. The local bus stops every minute in average (we checked it using the stopwatch on our smartphone … haha we felt very bored!). As always, patience is the greatest quality while traveling :-). The good surprise was the guided tour, with really good explanations.