About 30 minutes by car from Cayambe is Cochasquí. This is the largest and one of the most important pre-Columbian sites in Ecuador. Admission to the site is US$3 and includes an approximately 90 minute guided tour (in Spanish). A taxi to Cochasquí including waiting time is about US$25 from Cayambe.
Cochasquí may look like a series of grass covered hills populated by alpacas, but it’s actually pre-Incan pyramids that date back to 500 BC. There are also a few burial mounds found with only the skulls inside, indicating they were the heads of dead opponents prized as treasures of war.
Our guide, Octavio, thoroughly explained the importance of the pyramids during our tour, including an explanation of the significance of the altitude and the location.
On top of one of the excavated pyramids, he showed us how the markings and pins were used as an ancient astronomical center to accurately mark the winter and summer solstices.
Before finishing the tour, we were shown the small museum which houses some ancient artifacts, and a reconstruction of a pre-Incan home made of mud and sticks, with a timeline of civilizations in the area.