Steeped in death, conquest, desire, and mystery, the legend
of the lost Inca gold is guarded by remote, mist-veiled mountains in central
Ecuador. Somewhere deep inside the unforgiving Llanganates mountain range
between the Andes and the Amazon is said to exist a fabulous Inca hoard hidden
from Spanish conquistadors.
The legend begins in the 16th century, when the great Inca Empire in western South America was giving way to European invaders. Atahualpa was an Inca king who, after warring with his half-brother, Huáscar, for control of the empire, was captured at his palace in Cajamarca in modern-day Peru by Spanish commander Francisco Pizarro.
Pizarro agreed to release Atahualpa in return for a roomful of gold, but the Spaniard later reneged on the deal. He had the Inca king put to death before the last and largest part of the ransom had been delivered. Instead, the story goes, the gold was buried in a secret mountain cave. And there the legend has remained, daring others to prove it.
The shadowy guide of those who have tried is Valverde, a Spaniard who some 50 years after Atahualpa’s death is said to have become rich after being led to the gold by his Incan bride’s family. When he died, he left written directions to its location, the so-called Derrotero de Valverde.
Read more about the Lost Inca Gold on the National Geographic website HERE