Pre-Inca & Inca Sites near Cajamarca

Wednesday August 29: In the last two days we have explored the pre-Inca burial site of Ventanillas de Otuzco, the site of Los Baños del Inca, the small town of Llacanora and the pre-Inca site of Cumbe Mayo.

We took a taxi to see the Ventanillas, which are niches carved into a rock face where the bones of the deceased wealthy were placed along with clay grave offerings. The hillside here is covered with these little niches, which are too small for an entire body; the bodies were buried in the ground for several years then the bones were transferred to a niche along with the grave offerings.

From Otuzco we walked to Los Baños del Inca. It is a hot springs area with many tubs and pools for soaking, the mineral water emerges from underground at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (72 degrees C). It is here that the last Inca ruler, Atahuapla was resting with his large army when the Spaniards (Pizarro and about 160 men, some horses and a few canon) arrived in Cajamarca. The hot springs was a resort in pre-Inca times and it still is today with many locals visiting the site for the hot water pools.

We continued from Los Baños along a country dirt road to Llacanora where we caught a combi back into Cajamarca. The dirt road follows a small river with lush, green farms in the valley below and steep cliffs on the other side of the road.

Thursday we took a tour to Cumbe Mayo which has three interesting features. The first is the interesting natural rock formations, some look like castle walls and others like marching monks. The second feature is the extensive pre-Inca canal structure carved into the rocks in places and built with rocks in others. Water still flows in the channels although being toward the end of the dry season right now there was not much. The third feature is the many petroglyphs carved into the rocks. They are most visible where the carvings are hidden from the weather under rock overhangs. This trip took all day and we returned to Cajamarca quite tired after our second day of much hiking.