Standing in a rickety old ceramic pot perched above a cliff would not have been a great idea in pre-colombian times. At the time, the inhabitants of the area around Laguna Cuicocha thought sacrifices were necessary to appease the gods. Now the rickety pot stands atop a commanding view of the crater filled lake Cuicocha and Cotacachi volcano towering above it.
The lake is completely self-contained within the crater created by a massive eruption a little over 3000 years ago. The lake gets its name from the two small islands shaped like guinea pigs or cuy.
The crater and area still hold sacred importance to the indigenous people and a large Inti Raymi or sun god festival is held every year on the summer solstice. The ritual baths are used and faux sacrificial ceremonies are held as well.
A short drive up from the leather making town of Cotacachi, Cuicocha stands on the very southeastern edge of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. A hiking trail rings the crater’s rim and along the way there are many lovely places to stand and contemplate the natural beauty of the world.
The weather invariably didn’t fully cooperate to display the occasionally snow covered peak of Cotacachi everytime, but it was always a wonderful excursion in order to sacrifice our guests, figuratively of course.
And just for fun, here are a few of those we sacrificed over the two years in Ecuador…