Photos: María Caracola
History, energy and culture
The Cochasquí Archaeological Park is a complex of archaeological monuments located at 3,100 meters above sea level. It is located in the parish of Tocachi, province of Pichincha, less than an hour north of the city of Quito by the road that leads to Cayambe. It has 15 pyramids, 21 funeral mounds, four museums, 84 hectares of preserved architectural area, and is home to countless llamas and llamingos of all ages.
Several investigations lead to believe that Cochasquí, like other archeological centers, are evidence of the Quitu-Cara culture, a highly developed pre-Inca culture that inhabited the vast region that stretches from the coast to the Amazon, and from the north province of Pichincha to the south of Colombia.
Cochasqui means “water of the half site”, cochas: water/lake, and qui: half site. The park has a privileged location. On clear days visitors admire the panoramic view of a majestic landscape that includes hills and snowy peaks like Cayambe, Pichincha and Cerro Puntas. At night the spectacle is set by the starry sky, the same one observed by our ancestors who, from that spot studied the stars and constellations, drawing them in that dust, and creating lunar and solar calendars. This energetic place is the highest point where the equatorial line passes, and is known as one of the most important astronomical points of the country and the world.
But these are not the only attractions of Cochasquí. The surroundings of the park are also suitable for adventure sports, bird watching, or hiking to the Mojanda lagoon. In addition, you can enjoy tasting traditional dishes like corn with cheese, the typical seco de chivo, corn tortillas and traditional drinks.
As if that was not enough, aside from all the cultural-historical experience at this place, the Government of Pichincha has adapted it with accommodation facilities in very good condition and with constant maintenance. There are six cabins with three beds (one double and one bunk), bathrooms with showers and hot water, independent cabins with grill, electricity and Wi-Fi.
For the more adventurous, there is a camping and campfire area adapted for this purpose, located in the open area in front of the cabins. Basic food, firewood and charcoal are sold at the reception. It has closed parking, where a car collects and transports visitor’s luggage and groceries.
Cochasqui is the ideal destination to spend a weekend with family or friends, and to enjoy an unexpected experience with high chances of observing an incomparable starry sky. The Park and its museums are open all year round, without interruption, from 08:30 to 16:30, and provide well-trained bilingual tour guides that make the visit a truly enriching experience.
However, the most striking dates to visit this location of our highlands is the month of March, when the Mushuk Nina or Andean New Year, which marks the beginning of harvest time, is celebrated.
It is not only its landscapes, nor its intact and well-maintained ruins that have made the Archaeological Park Cochasqui famous. It is also its historical and cultural value. It is a wonderful place, full of energy and ancestral knowledge. Beyond the beautiful nature that surrounds it, going to Cochasquí is contributing with a type of tourism that supports culture, appropriation, and a magical sense of belonging to a unique place in the planet.