Inca Trail

Inca Trail, Ecuador

Inca Trail


Elevation Table
Laguna Tres Cruces4240m
Highest pass4416m
Laguna Culebrillas3892m
Community road3680m


The Inca Trail or Qhapaq Ñan served to connect the Inca empire capital, where the city of Cusco is currently located, with the various territories dominated by the Inca. One of these trails was heading north, traveling through a very complicated geography and passing by the important cities of Cajamarca, Tomebamba, Ingapirca and Quito. Achupallas - Ingapirca is one of the best preserved Inca Trail sections, located in the Cañar province, central south zone of Ecuador. The trail begins at the indigenous community of Achupallas, mostly crossing sections of wet "paramo" surrounded by lagoons and rocky peaks, it crowns its highest pass at 4416 meters and then descends to the Culebrillas Lagoon, Paredones Ruins, and end up in the vehicular road that connects some indigenous communities with the town and Ruins of Ingapirca.

National Park: Parque Nacional Sangay

Leaving Achupallas
Leaving Achupallas
 Culebrillas Lagoon
Culebrillas Lagoon
Ingapirca Archaeological Complex
Ingapirca Archaeological Complex


Eastern Cordillera; 50 kilometers in a straight line to the northeast of Cuenca.

Quito - Alausí296km5-6h
Alausí - Achupallas30km45min
Cuenca - Achupallas170km3h22min
Riobamba - Achupallas123km2h10min
Achupallas - Paredones23km9h30 - 10h30
Paredones - Ingapirca15.4km4h - 5h
Achupallas - L. Tres Cruces12.5km4:30h - 5h


  • The fastest way to get from Quito is to take a bus to Riobamba at the Quitumbe terminal, these buses leave approximately every hour. The buses from Riobamba to Alausí leave every 30 minutes, from 4:45 am to 8:00 pm, Cooperativa Alausí.
  • You can choose to sleep in Alausí, or if you have arrived early it is possible to rent a taxi - pickup truck to Achupallas. The pickup truck will charge US. 15.00 until 6pm; they usually raise the price to US. 20 at night. Places to sleep in Achupallas: Posada El Ingañán or Posada Indígena.
  • Distance from Achupallas to Ingapirca: 38.48 km.
  • In winter it's recommended the use of rubber boots, approximately from November to April; In summer, trekking boots are better.
  • The Inca road is wide and very visible in some sections, in others it's difficult to identify it.
  • It is possible to deviate because there are many trails leaving from the main path, especially near Achupallas.
  • The paramo is wet and clouds easily, it is recommended to hire a qualified guide.
  • At the head of the Culebrillas Lagoon it is necessary to cross a river about 5 meters wide; when it has rained the crossing can be difficult.
  • There is much cattle especially in the Culebrillas Lagoon surroundings. It's easy to get water on the trail and on the campgrounds but it's recommended to purify or make it boil.
  • Suggested itinerary for a relaxed hike: Day 1: Achupallas - Laguna Tres Cruces; Day 2: Laguna Tres Cruces - Ruina de Paredones; Day 3: Ruina de Paredones - Ingapirca.
  • Itinerary if you are in a hurry and you are a hard one: Day 1: Achupallas - Ruina de Paredones; Day 2: Ruina de Paredones - Ingapirca.
  • Enjoy your visit to Ingapirca, the largest and best preserved Inca city in Ecuador. More information on: Complejo Arqueológico de Ingapirca
  • In Ingapirca you can find restaurants, hotels, and small supermarkets. If you're in a hurry you can rent a taxi - pickup truck for US. 15 that will take you to the town of El Tambo along the Pan-American Highway. There are also buses that leave approximately every 30 minutes to the same destination.
  • In El Tambo you can get buses to Guayaquil approximately every 30 minutes; to Quito approximately every hour, Cooperativa Patria; to Cuenca, you must first take a bus to the Cañar terminal, they pass every 30 minutes.

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