In the heartland of the Puruhá culture
Immerse into the history of the duchicelas
WHAT AWAITS YOU DURING THIS 1 DAY EXPERIENCE
In this tour you will be in the heartland of the Puruhá culture. Monuments, legends, expositions and traditions will make the old times alive. And at night, at the bonfire, with the present of the snow-capped mountains Chimborazo and Altar, stars and moon, sure you will feel the spirit of the Puruhá´s!
The community you will be visiting
At 3275m above sea level, Pukara Tambo is a community tourism project beautifully situated on a hill overlooking Riobamba, with magnificent views of Chimborazo, Tungurahua, El Altar, Carihuairazo and Sangay. Pukura Tambo is located within the parish of Cacha, which has a formidable and fascinating indigenous history. This was the centre of the great pre-Inca Puruhá culture and the location of their main city, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1640. The lost city remains underground to this day, as no formal excavation has ever been made. Cacha also has the distinction of being the first indigenous parish to be recognised by the government, in 1980, allowing its inhabitants to choose their own authorities and decide their own government structure.
Pukara Tambo Community Museum
During a guided tour of the Pukura Tambo community tourism project, we will learn about the Puruhá and Inca cultures. Starting in the museum, we will discover the incredibly rich history and traditions of the parish of Cacha, the heartland of the Puruhás. We’ll admire the murals on the museum’s external walls, which depict the four poetically named Inca seasons: Tamia Pacha (the time of rain), Sisa Pacha (the time of flowers), Rupay Pacha (the time of heat) and Torpuy Pacha (the time of planting). In the ceremonial plaza, we will learn about the Inca celebrations or “Raymis” at the solstices and equinoxes. We’ll feed the guinea pigs, rabbits and llamas, before visiting the medicinal plants garden and the handicrafts shop.
A tour of the Cacha region
There are so many fascinating natural and cultural attractions in Cacha, that the only way to see them all is by car. First, we’ll visit the house of Luis Felipe Duchicela, the community’s most famous resident, a direct descendent of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. We’ll learn about the Duchicela family, the only remaining members of a bloodline that descends from the marriage between the Inca Emperor Huayna Cápac and a Puruhá princess.
We’ll stop at the monument of a Puruhá warrior that commemorates the creation of Cacha, the country’s first indigenous parish, and the plaza where President Jaimie Roldos visited by helicopter to mark the occasion. We’ll drive to a viewpoint overlooking Laguna Verdecocha, a peaceful looking lake that local people believe has mysterious powers. We’ll ascend to the top of the sacred mountain Chuyug, which was the site of an Inca pukura (observation and communications centre). We’ll marvel at the jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside with the volcanoes Chimborazo, Tungurahua, El Altar and Carihuairazo in the distance. From here, we can see two other sacred mountains, Alankawan, where animal sacrifices are still made for Pawka Raymi, and Chambo, which the local people refer to as “señor” ("sir"). According to legend, it is possible for animals and humans to teletransport between Chuyug and Chambo. At the monument to indigenous hero Fernando Daquilema, we’ll discover the incredible bravery of this young man from Cacha, who was put to death in 1864 for organising an indigenous uprising, together with the legendary resistance leader Manuela Leon. Our last stop will be the natural springs where people gathered daily to collect water before the pipe system was built in the 1990s. The springs feed into a beautiful stream, lined with trees, next to a cave where wolves sleep during daylight hours. This idyllic setting is where young couples used to meet and flirt while filling their water jugs, prior to the advent of dating apps!
A haunted Cave
From Pukura Tambo, we will descend on foot down a long flight of stairs to the bottom of the valley, where we will find a cave with a mysterious and terrible resident. While the cave is actually a man-made tunnel through a rock face, local legend tells that it’s the day-time sleeping place of a malignant spirit, the Atun Aya. After our local guide chills our bones with the haunting tale, we will be picked up by car for the return journey to Pukara Tambo.
Bonfire & Storytelling
After dinner we will enjoy a bonfire under the stars at Pukura Tambo. As we share stories and listen to Puruhá legends, we may be lucky enough to see the unforgettable sight of the moon rising between the distant peaks of El Altar and Tungurahua, with the lights of Riobamba twinkling in the valley below.