The track is 2km long, and involves quite some climbing until you get to the very top of the hill. There they've made two viewing platforms where you can admire the sculptures from above. It's really a weird slab of rock. I can see why imaginative researchers have come up with the hypothesis that the rock was used as a kind of airfield. It looks just like that little take off- and landing strip at Lukla in Nepal! Just a short stretch of flat road before diving off into an unsure flight amidst the mountains.
The map that is included with the entrance ticket shows the position of the most prominent sculptures, a bit like the map they give you in Nazca. The motifs here are even more difficult to distinguish than those at the Nazca Lines - a lot of the rock sculptures have eroded. The two felines I really could not see. The channels and the geometric pools are the most clear ones.
The track then leads you down to the former Inca town. Not much more is left of it than walls of groups of buildings. It gets more interesting at the end again, where you're allowed close to the rock to observe the Five Niches, an Inca temple cut out of the rock.
There may be not a lot left to see here, but the visit in general was very worthwhile. That's mostly because of the wonderful natural surroundings of the site. It is located in the Amboro National Park, with great mountain vistas and abundant birdlife. I think I even spotted a Condor (I saw one bird with a giant wingspan). I walked both ways to and from the site from Samaipata, 10km each way, which I can really recommend when you want to enjoy the natural beauty of this place. The site itself is well-cared for, even with so few visitors. There's a kiosk to buy drinks and snacks, and the circuit is partly made out of boardwalks.
Jarek Pokrzywnicki (Poland):
Visited November 2014. Easy if you are in Samaipata town (recommended to stay a bit longer). The easiest way to get to El Fuerte is by foot (some 9 km from Samaipata town). If bad weather or lack of time the most economic way is to take a moto-taxi from just outside the mercado (cost for one way should be 20 B per person - moto-taxi takes only one person at a time), car-taxi for a full trip will want more, there is no other public transport there (well of course there is a possibility to arrange a trip from local agency - costs more ....).
Joint ticket for foreigners (50 B per person, a little bit too much as for Bolivian standards) entitles to visit a site of El Fuerte and a local museum in Samaipata town (two halls, some plans, ceramics).
As mentioned El Fuerte is located 9 km from the centre of Samaipata (direction of Santa Cruz), the road is just being paved (2/3 of the job is now done) so next year they will surely have excellent road there. For the whole site 3-4 hours should be enough to see - take some water with you.
Date posted: November 2014 Gilbert de Jong (The Netherlands): I now belief the marker on El Fuerte de Samaipata (El Cascabel) is marking the parallel heliacal rise of our brightest planets Venus and Jupiter on August 20 in the year 1066 AD instead of the parallel heliacal rise of Regulus and a planet.
These two planets, as two bright celestial eyes, could be seen almost always in a year of Halley's Comet return.
Date posted: August 2011 peter de Vos (amsterdam) (): Hallo,
Ik zag dat je gewoon uit Nederland kwam dus ik doe het dan ook maar in het Nederlands.
Ik ben samen met mijn vriendin in november 2002 in Fuerte de Samaipata geweest.
Het gebied rondom de tempel wordt (werd) goed onderhouden en er zijn overal loopbruggen en uitzicht torens bij geplaatst. Het is wel een heel gedoe om een kaartje te kopen om het complex op te komen maar dit lukt uiteindelijk wel.
Ik ben er met een taxi vanuit Samapaita naar toe gegaan en dat is best goed te doen. Aan te raden is wel om een vaste prijs af te spreken voor de retour trip (inclusief wachttijd)
G.J. de Jong (The Netherlands): Hi there!
Recently I have seen photographs of El Fuerte after restauration by UNESCO. Great work! Me and my wife visited El Fuerte in 1998.
In the past years I have done some research on the meaning of 'El Cascabel':one of El Fuerte's most significant features.
The 263 diamantshaped curves on El Cascabel and the view direction of the two parallel shafts of El Cascabel ( azimuth 71"0')show the importance of Venus, the morningstar.
It was Garcilaso de la Vega in his ancient chronicles of Peru who mentioned this temple for the first time.
In his description he speaks about he stone images of two condors (cunturs) that could be found on this hill. One cuntur was depicted in flight 'as to swoop on it's pray' and one cuntur with 'it's back turned to the spectator as in shame'.
Both images still can be seen on El Fuerte although they haven't been published before and are also unknown by UNESCO.
Besides that one particular spot one El Fuerte should be protected very well because this spot marks the (unknown and not-published)images of the mythical Manco Ccapac and Mama Occlo and also the images of two Llamaheads (offers?).
The writings of Garcilaso de la Vega show us that El Fuerte was pretty famous in Cusco and he writes:
"the painting still existed in good condition in 1580. In 1592 I asked a creole priest who had come to Spain from Peru if he had seen it and what state it was in. He replied that it was very faint, and indeed scarcely perceptible at all, having been ruined by wheather and water and neglect for the preservation of such antiquities" (Garcilaso de la Vega, Chapter XXIII: a famous painting; the rewards given to the Inca allies)
I hope UNESCO will take care of these paintings now. I will reveal these places in personal communication with UNESCO.
Have you been to El Fuerte de Samaipata ? Share your experiences!