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Our View of the Andes

overcast 18 °C

The Andes stretch the full length of South America and we have yet to reach the higher elevations. However, for the past few days we’ve been on a rollercoaster ride through some spectacular mountain scenery. Unfortunately, photographs simply fail to convey the sheer scale and beauty of the terrain as it unfolded beneath us, but this old guy could tell you how steep it is…
And this llama, (or is it a vicuna), knows how to keep a grip on the high pastures…
As we sailed across the mountain tops we would glimpse farming communities far below us in the sub-tropical valleys. This small town was dominated by the most enormous statue of Christ…
For much of the time on the switchback road we were above the clouds, ascending and descending peak after peak and coasting across high barren plateaus…
… and crossing valleys on vertigo inducing bridges…
At other times we had zero visibility as we dropped precipitously through dense layers of cloud to arrive in some barely visible village. Without our faithful GPS we would never have found our hotel in the town of Chunchi and it wasn’t until the clouds cleared in the morning that we saw that we had been perched on a ledge several thousand feet above a steep gorge…
Between Chunchi and our next stop – the ancient city of Cuenca – the mountains took on new heights and it was here that we had our first encounter with the Inca empire in the ancient ruins at Ingapirca. The mountaintop settlement of Ingapirca, the most extensive Inca ruins in Ecuador,was decimated by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century as they sought to ‘educate’ the savages in the ways of the Bible and this is all that remains today…
Ingapirca was actually built by the Canari – a local tribe defeated by the Incas in the 13th century as they spread their territory from Peru across modern day Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile as well as parts of Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. Following the Spanish invasion little was left of the Ingapirca settlement apart from this fortress-like tower- The Temple of the Sun..
We will be exploring many more Inca settlements in the next few weeks, but our next stop, the pretty city of Cuenca, owes its architecture solely to the Spanish colonists.

Posted by Hawkson 16:12 Archived in Ecuador

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You had a GPS? All I had was maps and me! Looks like a great adventure you're on.

by Samchow58

Amazing that they could build walls that high by just piling up rocks. Lot of slave labour involved I presume. Hope to see more photos of some of your accommodations (and food, of course).

by R and B

Yikes and how beautiful. Thank goodness for that GPS.

by Sue Fitzwilson

As usual, great pictures.

by keith

my guess is it's a vicuna

by The Vickerage

Thanks for the world travels in photos and blogs!!

by Jenna

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