The Valverde Course

  • Destination: Climbing, Derrotero de Valverde, Trekking

The Valverde Course

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The legend begins in the sixteenth century, when the great Inca Empire in western South America gave way to European invaders. Inca king Atahualpa was the one who after winning the war on his brother Huascar was captured by the Spanish commander Francisco Pizarro. Pizarro agreed to release Atahualpa in exchange for two rooms full of gold, but the Spanish broke his word and treatment. Inca King was executed before the largest part of the ransom had been delivered. The gold was buried in a secret mountain cave in what is now National Park Llanganates (Pillaro-Ecuador) and the legend has remained there for hundreds of years.

The chroniclers tell that 50 years after the death of a Spanish surname Atahualpa Valverde was married to the daughter of a chief, who was one of the leaders of what is now Pillaro. This Spanish-language overnight became a rich and wealthy individual, because the girl’s father told his son, the place where General Rumiñahui hid the treasure of the Kingdom of Quito, where it is said Valverde took great quantity of gold and silver, this treasure would help pay the ransom of Inca Atahualpa who was imprisoned in Cajamarca. To be executed Atahualpa, Rumiñahui decided to hide in what is now National Park Llanganates. Valverde returned to live in his native Spain and then went to the king of Spain a manuscript revealing the route to be followed to the place where the Treasury. Since that time known as the guide or Course of Valverde, the same as you start your journey of five days in the city of Pillaro. From those days till now hundreds of researchers, scientists, explorers and treasure hunters have come to Pillaro to follow closely the course and hope for the best accompanying with the resulting discovery of the treasure. In the 1850s the English botanist Richard Spruce traveled to Ecuador in search of the cinchona tree, whose seeds were used to produce the malaria medicine quinine. When he finally returned to Britain, reported that he had found in old files Valverde Guide and a map relating to the treasure’s whereabouts.


Once in the town of Pillaro, ask for the farm of Moya, and sleep a good distance above it; and ask there for the mountain of Guapa, from whose top, if the day be fine, look to the east, so that thy back be towards the town of Ambato, and from thence thou shalt perceive the three Cerros Llanganati, in the form of a triangle, on whose declivity there is a lake, made by hand, into which the ancients threw the gold they had prepared for the ransom of the Inca when they heard of his death. From the same Cerro Guapa thou mayest see also the forest, and in it a clump of Sangurimas standing out of the said forest, and another clump which they call Flechas (arrows), and these clumps are the principal mark for the which thou shalt aim, leaving them a little on the left hand. Go forward from Guapa in the direction and with the signals indicated, and a good way ahead, having passed some cattle-farms, thou shalt come on a wide morass, over which thou must cross, and coming out on the other side thou shalt see on the left-hand a short way off a juc·l on a hill-side, through which thou must pass. Having got through the juc·l, thou wilt see two small lakes called “Los Anteojos” (the spectacles), from having between them a point of land like to a nose. From this place thou mayest again descry the Cerros Llanganati, the same as thou sawest them from the top of Guapa, and I warn thee to leave the said lakes on the left, and that in front of the point or “nose” there is a plain, which is the sleeping-place. There thou must leave thy horses, for they can go no farther. Following now on foot in the same direction, thou shalt come on a grat black lake called Yanacocha, the which leave on thy left-hand, and beyoud it seek to descend along the hill-side in such a way that thou mayest reach a ravine, down which comes a waterfall: and here thou shalt find a bridge of three poles, or if it do not still exist thou shalt put another in the most convenient place and pass over it. And having gone on a little way in the forest, seek out the hut which served tho sleep in or the remains of it. Having passed the night there, go on thy way the following day through the forest in the same direction, till thou reach another deep dry ravine, across which thou must throw a bridge and pass over it slowly and cautiously, for the ravine is is very deep; that is if thou succeed not in finding the pass which exists. Go forward and look for the signs of another sleeping-place, which, I assure thee, thou canst not fail to see in the fragments of pottery and other marks, because the Indians are continually passing along there. Go on thy way, and thou shalt see a mountain which is all of margasitas (pyrites), the which leave on the left-hand, and I warn thee that thou must go round it in this fashion (The Valverde mark). On this side thou wilt find a pajonál (pasture) in a small plain, which having crossed thou wilt come on a canyon between two hills, which is the way of the Inca. From thence as thou goest along thou shalt see the entrance of the socabon (tunnel), which is in the form of a church-porch. Having come through the canyon, and gone a good distance beyond, thou wilt perceive a cascade which descends from a offshoot of the Cerro Llanganati, and runs into a quaking-bog on the right hand; and without passing the stream in the said bog there is much gold, so that putting in thy hand what thou shalt gather at the bottom is grains of gold. To ascend the mountain, leave the bog and go along to the right, and pass above the cascade, going round the offshoot of the mountain. And if by chance the mouth of the socabon be closed with certain herbs which they call “salvaje”, remove them, and thou wilt find the entrance. And on the left-hand side of the mountain thou mayest see the “Guayra” (for thus the ancients called the furnace where they founded metals), which is nailed with golden nails. And to reach the third mountain, if thou canst not pass in front of the socabon, it is the same thing to pass behind it, for the water of the lake falls into it. If thou lose thyself in the forest, seek the river, follow it on the right bank; lower down take to the beach, and thou wilt reach the canyon in such sort that, although thou seek to pass it, thou wilt not find where; climb, therfore, the mountain on the right-hand, and in this manner thou canst by no means miss thy way.