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August 3, 2012

Just outside the town of Cajamarca is the small spa town of Banos del Inca. Cajamarca is a big a busy town whereas Banos del Inca is quiet and relaxed. We decided to stay in Banos del Inca and found a small parking area right on the main square of the town. We spent two nights here. The first was blissfully quiet but unfortunately the second, a Friday night, was pretty noisy with a band playing in a nearby building until 2am. Our third night in the area we moved to a Hacienda in the countryside between Cajamarca and Banos del Inca.

After our epic journey across the mountains we spent our first day in Banos del Inca relaxing. We went to the baths – there are lots of different options. It was really hot so we just went for a swim in the big swimming pool  – the water is from the springs and meant to be good for you but it felt like normal water to me.

Banos del Inca is famous for its baths which have been in operation since Inca times. In fact this town is famous as the location where the last Inca lord Atahualpa was bathing when he heard news that Pizarro had arrived in town.

Atahualpa was captured by the Conquistador Pizarro in the town of Cajamarca. Pizarro had only 62 horsemen and 106 foot soldiers and there were between 30,000 and 80,000 Inca Warriors in the area. Pizarro laid a trap in the plaza of Cajamarca and waited for Atahualpa to arrive with only 5,000 men. They attacked with such aggression that they managed to Capture Atahualpa without a casualty. The Incas had badly underestimated the steel swords, muskets and horses of the Spaniards.

The Ransom Room with mark on the left hand side showing where the gold had to be up to.

Pizarro held Atahualpa for ransom and demanded that a room (since called the ransom room) be filled with gold up to a line on the wall for his release. The gold was delivered and Pizarro held a trial and then executed Atahualpa.

Cajamarca itself is a really busy city but it has a beautiful colonial centre which is worth walking around. After visiting the Ransom Room we went to the Belen complex which includes a number of buildings which are filled with works of art, the Archaeology and Ethnography museum and a church, Iglesia Belen.

A few km’s outside Cajamarca there is an ancient burial site called the Ventanillas de Otuzco. This is a huge necropolis where the dead chieftains of the Cajamarca culture were buried in niches carved into the volcanic rock.

We were seriously low on supplies when we got to Cajamarca so we headed for the local mall. We were pleased on arriving to see a big outdoor car park with plenty of space and no height restriction. As we pulled in three men jumped out and told us to stop. We though they were just going to take our numberplate  for security purposes. However they told us that we couldn’t park here – we argued for a few minutes with them explaining that we were already in and there was plenty of space. All to no avail so we had to do a three point turn and find somewhere else to park.


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