Stan on Horseback Departing for the Lost City Expedition
April 3, 2012
We decided to take a few days off to go explore a completely unknown lost city. Due to my familiarity with Ecuadorian archaeology, I was invited by a land owner to explore ancient ruins that are about 4 times larger in land mass than the famous and well-known Ingapirca site. The only problem is that this site is extremely remote and difficult to reach. We had to ride horses through Cajas National Park in order to get there.
I have never been on such a difficult, dangerous and uncomfortable horseback expedition before in my life. We rode through valley after valley over mud slides, through whitewater rivers, through freezing rain and on steep, rocky terrain.
It took 8 grueling hours for us to reach the site. I hurt everywhere. Even though I could barely walk, I could not rest; I began exploring the area immediately. I saw huge stone wall structures shaped in squares, rectangles and ovals. This being a virgin site, everything was overgrown and it took a careful eye to pick out all of the different sizes and shapes. The ruins were strewn out for more than 3 kilometers in all directions.
The views of the surrounding mountains were absolutely amazing, when the clouds permitted. That night, after only a short walk to the west, it was possible to see the lights of the city of Guayaquil, more than 100 kilometers off into the distance. Wow!
The next day, we explored no less than 5 different caves on the property. In each one we discovered hundreds of pottery shards laying all over the floor. One can only imagine what an excavation would produce. After examining more than 200 pieces of pottery, I came to the opinion that this was the site of one of the first phases of the Canari civilization. The pieces were quite unsophisticated and lacked any color or design work; they were mostly crude and simple.
The landowner had been hoping that I would declare that there was a large golden hoard of treasure buried there. He was not pleased with my conclusions.
The next morning we hit the trail and began the torturous ride out. Everyone but my girlfriend was thrown from their horses several times. One experienced rider in the expedition was bucked off his horse into a freezing river. As the rain poured, we encountered new landslides. We had to dismount as the horses refused to navigate the mud with us on their backs.
I would love to go back to the site someday and spend more time exploring. However, that will only happen if I have a helicopter at my disposal!
Stan Walking Among Kilometers of Stone Ruin in the Remote Lost City
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