The Machay hacienda is a remote place nestled deep in the subtropical jungle of the Chugchilán parish (Cotopaxi) that preserves the ruins of the last stronghold of the Incas of Quito. There, the historian Tamara Estupiñán found archaeological remains of what is believed to be the last dwelling place of the Inca Atahualpa, indeed the last Inca emperor’s tomb was found in the Malqui Machay sector in Sigchos canton. Since then, this hacienda has achieved notoriety inside and outside of Ecuador. Most of the remains, very important ruins built in stone and with unique characteristics, are buried in an area of three hectares.   In the place are the vestiges of a monument of late imperial design, which has an impressive entrance alley, through which you can access different rectangular rooms. Everything is located around a trapezoidal plaza surrounded by aqueducts and canals. “According to my hypothesis, it would have been the last stronghold where Atahualpa or his mummified body was probably guarded by Rumiñahui, they are monumental ruins with great symbolic meaning because it would have been like the small house or abode, as the people say. Chroniclers, from the last Capac Inca, from Tahuantinsuyo ”, added Estupiñán.   Malqui Machay in Quichua means “burial of the body of the ayllu’s progenitor.” A building loaded with symbolism that would not reach the category of fortress or temple. Getting to this magical and historical place will take you 12 hours of travel, round trip, from Quito, however, the effort is worth it to live an unforgettable adventure full of picturesque landscapes typical of the Andean range. But the adventure does not end there, because if you go to Sigchos you cannot miss visiting Central Park and the mother church that keep a lot of history. If you want to walk and take pictures of beautiful landscapes, be sure to visit the Quilotoa volcano and lagoon, the Zarapullo Natural Viewpoint, the Toachi River Canyon, and the Blue Hills. All this can be achieved with the motorcycle Hot & Cold Guided tour.  

The History

On July 16, 2004, Jaime Pástor Morris, archaeologist Tamara L. Bray and Tamara Estupiñán, an Ecuadorian fellow of the French Institute of Andean Studies, arrived at the Malqui hacienda (Inca mummy in Kichwa). They found few Inca archaeological remains, but it was the tip of the iceberg. In 2010, Estupiñán organized a second expedition. On June 26, a few kilometers from the hacienda, they discovered an Inca archaeological site on a hill called Machay. Estupiñán has dedicated a decade to unraveling the actions of the Incas from Quito in the war against Cusco.

The Place

Close to the Cotopaxi volcano and next to the royal road or Qhuapac Ñan, a royal Tambo was built in Callo that served to house the Inca elite and their hosts. Despite ongoing investigations, Estupiñán argues that it is an Inca monument of late imperial design with a marvelous entrance alley. Through this, according to her, you can access several rectangular rooms, structures built with cut and polished stone located around a trapezoidal plaza. The site is surrounded by aqueducts and canals, one of which leads to a small waterfall that slides down the stone towards what would be an ‘Inca bath’. Malqui-Machay, as the monument was baptized, would be the burial of the body of the ayllu’s progenitor. However, Estupiñán believes that more than answers, the finding raises questions. And she adds: “Let Archeology help to decipher this enigma.” Francisco Moncayo, a 38-year-old agro-zootechnical engineer, one of the owners of the Machay farm, says that it is a quiet place surrounded by rivers and mountains where banana, lime, orange, lemon trees grow and a variety of crops and ornamental plants such as the bougainvillea.

Text Credits: Ama la Vida Magazine (Ministry of Tourism Ecuador)

Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor’s tomb was found
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