Bolivia: Incallajta

Visit a large ancient city and have it all to yourself

Categories: Bolivia, Cities, Road Trips

Incallajta or Inkallaqta is a remote Inca city a few hours south of Cochabamba. It is the largest Inca ruin site in Bolivia and the farthest southern extent of the Inca Empire. Interestingly it wasn’t built until close to 1472, only twenty years before the Spanish first set foot in the New World.

The city was a military fortification and as such was strategically located on top of a hill overlooking the valley. What we were shown stretched all the way to the base of the cliffs on that second mountain.

 

I’m amazed at how fast things can get buried under copious amounts of soil.

Our decision to go visit Incallajta was simply to make use of our last day in the Cochabamba, it had not been one of our goals for the trip. The drive is very long, close to three hours even despite being mostly on pavement. The drive does take you through some very scenic agricultural landscapes that could be said to look like the Italian countryside. The last 45 minutes of the drive is by dirt road deep into an isolated mountain valley.

Everyone who visits the city has the same thing to say about it. It’s impressively large and feels very isolated. Although the quality of the stonework is not in the same league as the Peruvian ruins of the Sacred Valley, Inkallaqta feels like a real lived in city and you will most likely be the only visitor at the site. According to our guide (a guide is required to enter the site) we were the first people to show up for several days! Our guide was relaxed and informative. He allowed us to generally move along at our own pace. Incallajta is a good non-touristy ruin site to visit and enjoy the quiet of nature, and while the drive is long it is scenic.

One of the major locations in the city was this huge building, believed to have been covered, with a spring in the back corner.

This high wall suggest the shape and style of the roof.

It’s not really understood what this facility was used for. It could have been a winter social gathering area or even a market.

I think this was an area across a gorge where the residences were for women only.

You definitely have the feeling that you are walking through a town rather than an isolated ruin site with a limited function. Some areas appear to have just been unearthed or that they are being retaken by the land due to lack of maintenance.

The town is divided by a deep gorge with a permanent stream of fresh water flowing through it. At the time there were bridges connecting the two halves of the city but now you must walk down some steep stairs and climb out the other side.

The guide told us this rock in the foreground was for making blood sacrifices. He seemed to point out quite a few other rocks and said they were the same thing so I started to doubt him.

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