South America Extreme Adventure Tours


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South America Extreme Adventure Tours

Llanganati for treasure seekers- 8 Days

Llanganati for treasure seekers- 8 Days
Degree of Difficulty E

important information
  • Departure Day: Upon Request
  • Price for 8 days:USD 2,340 .-

On November 16th in 1532 Franciso Pizarro penetrated into the Inca-Empire and wanted the rich lands that were populated by the Incas. Pizarro threw Atahualpa into prison and Atahualpa promised him to fill his cell up with gold if he released him. He stretched out his arm and indicated a height of two meters. Pizarro took a piece of chalk and marked the height on the wall. In June the cell was already filled up with two-thirds of the gold. Gold was brought from all parts of the Inca-empire and some Indios even transported the gold on their backs. The Spanish people melted all valuable goods, in order to make handy ingots. It is estimated that the room eventually contained today's monetary equivalent of over half a billion USD.

In July 1533 Atahualpa was put through a sham trial and charged with crimes such as incest (it was Inca tradition to marry ones sister), polygamy, the worship of false gods and crimes against the king. He was executed by strangulation on August the 29th in 1533 and the Inca Empire effectively came to an end. The Spanish did not count on the indignation of the Inca people and actually expected the precious metals to continue pouring in. A wave of hate spread over the empire and people were saying: "Whisk the son of the sun!" - "no more gold for the murderers!" Instructions were given not to bring the treasures anymore to the prison and so gold-loaded caravans, which were on their way, were called back. Therfore immeasurable treasures disappeared into the Sierra and the darkness of the jungle. The Inca scoffed the Spanish people and were saying: "You got the grain and lost a wheat field."

A Spanish soldier, Juan de Valverde, who had served under Pizarro, remained in the area where he married a local Indian girl. He returned to Spain and on his deathbed he asked that the priest should acquit him of all sins and to pay for them with wealth. The father of his bride was a Kazike, an Indian chief, who had hidden 70,000 loads of gold, silver and noble stones after the infamous murder of Atahualpas. Each treasure seeker knows of Valverde and the legend that he created of Llanganati.

For a more recent account, you can look to the famous English researcher and botanist Richard Spruce. He undertook an expedition in the Amazon area that began in 1849 and ended in 1864. He had heard many stories from the natives of the fantastic treasures that were hidden in the Llanganati Mountains. During a civil war Richard Spruce was held at a house in Baños, near Ambato. Here he passed the time by looking through the attic where he found a collection of work by a deceased Spanish explorer and botanist. The notes were badly destroyed by insects but he found maps of the Llanganati Mountains and accounts of several expeditions, which the Spanish researcher had undertaken in the Llanganati Mountains. He finally found documentation in a file in Latacunga containing statements from King Phillip II of Spain giving royal instruction to follow the stories of Juan de Valverde and explore the Llanganati mountain region in search of the Inca treasures. It had been written on the 14th of August 1827 and began as follows:

A guiding letter left by Juan de Valverde in Spain where death overtook him speaks of his trips to the Llanganati Mountains which he would frequently visit and return with a large quantity of gold. Royal instruction requests the landlords of Latacunga and Ambato to look for these treasures and for the guiding letter to be kept in a file in the city of Latacunga.

The guiding letter reads…
On arrival in Pillaro, travel up beyond the Hacienda La Moya until you are on the summit of Mount Guapa, with your back towards Ambato. On a beautiful day you will detect the three mountains of the Llanganati visible to the east. These form a triangle and at the end of the slopes there is a lake that has been created by human hand. In this lake, the old people threw their gold in which was originally intended for Inca ransom. But after they had heard of the death of Atahualpa they threw the gold in there. From the same point on Mount Guapa you will see a forest where a village of Sangurimas (people of bloodshed) stands out and further on people called Flechas (people of arrows). These are the groups of people on whom you must depend. They are archery-wise and have knowledge of the land and know where things are likely to be situated.

Llanganati for treasure seekers- 8 Days

Head from Guapa in the direction of these people and after you have walked a fair bit you will pass some farms and get to a broad hillock. Cross here to the other side and you will come to a forest of Jocu (a high growing reed), growing on a slope to the left. Pass through this forest and you arrive at two small seas, known as the Anteojos' (the spectacles). They have this name due to the nose shaped island in-between them. From this place you will once again be able to see the mountains of Llanganati, with the lake on the left. In the centre of the mountains there is a valley. Here you must leave the horses behind, as they can travel no further from this point. Continue in this direction to the shore of the dark lake, Yana Cocha. The land slopes away into a ravine where a waterfall runs down. Here you will discover a bridge built of tree stumps. If the bridge is no longer there then another will have to be built to pass the waterfall. Follow the path along until you reach a hut, or the remainder of it. Here is a good place for shelter for the evening.

In the morning continue along the path and you will come to a deep ravine where there is a sturdy bridge to pass to the other side. On this side it is possible to gather more stock for the remainder of the journey. You will recognize this site as the ground is littered with broken glass and tableware left by previous visitors and the Indios, who stop here to have a break. Continue in the same direction and you will see a mountain, a unique one covered with Margasitas (pyrite or fools gold). Follow a small valley where there are reeds used for building Indio huts grown in abundance. This is the passage of the Incas and it is the only way through. The mountain should be on your left. Continue this way to a small level on which a Pajonal (alm) is situated and two hills ahead of you. Pass through these for a while and you will reach the waterfall that cascades from the first of the Llanganati slopes. The waterfall flows into a small muddy lagoon. In this mud is a lot of gold and you can gather it by just putting your hands in. This will bring out a pure gold rain. Pass over the waterfall and over many herb-covered rocks. There is now a walk to the third mountain, which is situated at the foot of the lake. This lake contains an unknown amount of treasures of the old Indios, who formed the lake with their own hands in this beautiful valley.'

Richard Spruce compared the words of Valverdes with a detailed map amongst the notes in the house near Ambato. He found out that the journey was correct and that all of the sites were in existence and that the Moya Hacienda was still there. He also noted that there was now a cross dedicated to the memory of Padre Longo, the leader of the first expedition to the site under the instruction of King Phillip II. The journey had been aborted on his death. Spruce also stated that the entire distance of the trek could not amount to more than 140 to 160 kilometers and would not be too much of a difficult walk. On his return to England, Spruce submitted his report to The Royal Geographic Society Of London and it was published in 1908 just before his death. This led to a great amount of new searches of the Inca treasures of Atahualpa. A group of naval officers found a cave loaded with gold that was too much to carry even with a hundred men. This journey was not without problems as several men were lost to pneumonia and a group returning from England for a second attempt died under mysterious circumstances.

This expedition is organized around your own desires and lasts for 8 days. It is truly your own adventure. We will gladly assist you in the planning of daily activities during the expedition, for reaching the target and the best possible sites for setting up camps. We will make sure that everything is organized before you come to Ecuador. The expeditions are led by an experienced ranger with 10 years experience of the Llanganati. The escort crew consists of experienced carriers and a route cook.

Prices per Person for 2012
Minimum 4 people USD 2,340.-
Extra day USD 325.-

In the price included:
All transfers (4WD), expedition according to program, accommodation in 2-Person expedition tents, carrier, tableware, cook, full food supply, national park fee, first aid kit, satellite telephone in case of emergency.

Not included in the price:
International flight, accommodation and meals in Quito, personal equipment, beverages, International flight airport tax (USD 43.- per person). Personal expenses, tips, travel insurance.


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