The Llanganates Treasure

The Legend of the Llanganates (located in Ecuador) has gold, Atahualpa, Rumiñahui, more gold and the Spaniards. Although rich in biodiversity and with incredible landscapes, the mystery of the great treasure remains the greatest attraction for adventurers, the curious and the ambitious looking for precious stones and metals.



The story, with its dyes of truth and myth, goes like this: in 1532 Atahualpa was imprisoned by Francisco Pizarro in Cajamarca after the movement for the conquest of the Empire began. To be released, the Emperor offered to fill a room with gold (and maybe two of silver), now known as the Rescue Room. The person in charge of delivering all these metals would be General Rumiñahui who undertook the job of collecting gold from all corners of the Empire.


Source: Hannah Lehman


This long period of “gold collecting” scared Francisco Pizarro, who believed in rumors that the General was on his way to Cajamarca with his whole army to eliminate all the captors. Threatened by the power of Atahualpa and Rumiñahui, the Spanish executed the Emperor on July 26, 1533. It is said that General Rumiñahui, upon receiving this news, hid all the gold and artifacts he gathered inside the lagoon of a crater of the the Llanganatis Range. Then he went to avenge the death of his leader and, despite being captured and tortured, he never revealed the location of the Rescue Treasure.


In the attempt to discover such invaluable treasure, several adventurers have immersed themselves in the flora, rocks and rivers of the Llanganates (which extends through the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Pastaza and Napo) following the path to the wealth supposedly known by José Valverde.

“According to tradition, back in the days of the colony a Spaniard named Valverde lived in Latacunga, one who, being very poor, became a very rich man overnight … The wealth of this individual is attributed to that of having married an Indian girl, her father, Cacique de Píllaro, they say, often took Valverde to some rugged places of the Llanganatis, showing him the place where a part of gold accumulated by the Indians of Quito was hidden for the rescue of the Inca Atahualpa. Before he died and in his death bed, Valverde revealed the secret of the hiding place of such treasures, in a writing destined to the king of Spain. This writing is his Guide or Log. “

(Llanganati, Luciano Andrade Marín)

Source: DeNunCianDo


Priests, envoys of the king, people from all over the world have used this guide to try to find the promised gold. They relied on a map that was clearly adulterated every time it passed hands or book publications and many of those who followed it disappeared, were found dead or returned empty-handed. “However, Edwin Cortez, mayor of Píllaro, said that 30 years ago an American expedition brought huge empty boxes to the Llanganates.” (


Among those who ventured to follow the path is Andrés Fernández-Salvador. He has been searching for the treasure of the Incas for about 70 years and thinks he is very close. In an interview conducted by Ileana Matamoros, Andrés tells in summary how he has come closer and closer to finding an island in a lagoon where, he was told, there is gold and gold pieces embedded with emeralds. A captivating interview reveals several details of the legend and adventurers who have lived touring the Llanganates. We recommend that you start reading it here.


Source: perrafina blogspot


There are those who documented their expedition, including photographer Jorge Anhalzer. He says that while taking a few air shots he distinguished a marked zig zag in the mountains. A path that he would then cross in 15 days of adventure. His friend, director Isabel Dávalos, convinced him to take some cameras to record the experience that, after 4 years, would end up edited as the movie Llanganati. Its premiere at this year’s EDOC (2017) demonstrates the danger of following the gold of the Incas among fog, slippery rocks, cliffs and disorientation. (We still don’t know another screening date for this documentary but we will be attentive).


Source: EDOC



Although we have been carried away by the magical story of our ancestors Atahualpa and Rumiñahui, historian Tamara Estupiñán affirms that everything is invented. Other than the oral story that has transcended for several generations, she says that “there is no historical evidence or any archeological objects on the subject” (Vistazo). Her theory is that Rumiñahui put gold and women under the protection of the allied lords. The author of the book “In the footsteps of Rumiñahui” is the one who discovered an archeological site that, supposedly, was the last abode of Atahualpa.


In Sigchos, 70 kilometers south of Quito, excavations were made at the Malqui-Machay estate (meaning “burial of the body of the ayllu’s progenitor”) where they found traces of approximately 500 years ago according to the historian Estupiñán. This late Inca design “has an impressive entrance alley through which you can access several rectangular rooms, which are located around a trapezoidal square. All surrounded by aqueducts and channels ”(Televistazo). They believe that it is the place where the mummified body of Atahualpa was protected, which, supposedly, was taken out to sunbathe during the day and at night “rested” in the fortress. This presumed resting place of the Emperor and the Llanganates National Park are now promoted to international tourists.





From the legend of the Treasure of the Llanganates, a tourist culture has been created around the Inca Trail. Its name (Llanganates), which means “beautiful mountain,” describes landscapes, flora and fauna of a dry Andean moorland in the west and a humid, cloudy and very populated life of plants and animals on the eastern side of the Andes where the river’s flow makes any hike a challenging one.

Meanwhile, the ruins of the abode of the last Inca of Tahuantinsuyo have become a national and international attraction due to their symbolism in the historical spectrum of the Inca era.