Now that the world knows about the allure of the people, music, food and intensely beautiful natural settings of the Andean region, it’s hard to believe that travelers to Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia were once so driven by mysterious tales of lost Inca treasure.
Perusing old newspaper articles, you find references to such legends, and the starry eyed treasure hunters who followed them.
Julio Torres, a local lawyer from Riobamba, Ecuador, claimed in 1930 to have found just such a treasure Nizag, in the Chimborazo province. He claimed the Inca riches were on a mountain known as the “Devil’s Nose” in a cave considered sacred by the indigenous locals, who fiercely protected the site from intruders.
He reportedly requested from the Ecuadorian government a compliment of soldiers to protect him and his treasure diggers.
Most of the tales of hidden Inca treasure were spun by hucksters and con men whose high priced maps led only to dead ends, or worse.
The Toledo News-Bee
Story of Pizarro
By M.E. Tracy ~ September 23, 1930
Most everyone is familiar with the story of Pizarro and Atahualpa: how the former, though a foundling, became the conqueror of Peru; how greed converted his courage into a ruthless brutality; how he captured the all too trustful emperor; how the latter promised to fill the cell in which he was confined with gold and jewelry; how his subjects brought it from all parts of the kingdom until more than $15 million worth had been assembled, and how Pizarro broke his word and had the Emperor strangled.
Legend has it that Pizarro might have exacted a vastly greater ransom had he kept his word and waited, that there was at least one great horde, if not more, hidden away in some mountain fastness which has been faithfully guarded by the Inca cult for the last 400 years.
Not only that, but it is said that Juan Valverde, a poor Spaniard who married an Indian girl, learned the location of this hidden treasure, because there is no other explanation for his sudden rise to wealth.
Valverde went back to Spain, taking the secret as well as the fortune with him, but leaving the King of Spain directions as to how and where more treasure could be found when he died.
Quite a few have attempted to follow the trail is described by Valverde, but only to lose it somewhere in the mountains.
Richard Spruce, an English botanist, traced it as far as Margasitas in 1857, and reported that up to that point Valverde’s directions ‘corresponded perfectly with locality and landmarks.’
Now comes Julio Torres, a country lawyer, claiming to have found the cache and asking the government of Ecuador protect him and his associates while they remove it.
According to Torres, he and the party of treasure hunters discovered a cave last November containing an Indian Idol surrounded by skeletons, which together with other circumstances, convinced them that they had come to the hiding place of the Inca Gold.
Whether this is correct or just another fairy tale, it makes for an interesting story.