Culture and traditions of Salasaca


Salasaca is located approximately 25 kilometers from the city of Baños and 14 kilometers from the city of Ambato. It is a town of an almost purely indigenous population, divided into eighteen small communities, each with its own name. Although the official language of Ecuador is Spanish, in this community, the primary language is quichua. Many of the elderly still don't speak Spanish. The people still dress in traditional clothing: long black skirts with woven belts (chumbi) and shawls for the women, and a long black (or sometimes white) poncho for the men. They cling to their ancient traditions.




Tradition is that the young salasacan man waits for the woman to leave the house to fetch water in a pondo (a large vessel used to carry water) at the spring. The youth follows the woman hoping that she waits for him. He takes the pondo from the woman and breaks the vessel. This indicates that he is proposing marriage. Later the woman returns to her house to inform her parents that she is now promised to this young man.
Marriage in Salasaca is usually celebrated on Sundays. Most marriages take place on Palm Sunday in April and the Sunday closest to “Dia de difuntos” (All souls’ Day), November 2nd.




La mayoría de los indígenas practica la religión católica apostólica romana y una pequeña parte, práctica la religión evangélica.
Most of the natives practice the Roman apostolic Catholic religion and a small part of the natives practice the evangelical religion.
The most important festival is Inty Raymy (solstice) held at the end of June. Next is Jatun Pishta which honors Taita Vintio, a sacred image in the church in the chilcapamba community. This festival is held the first week of december.


inty-raymyThe festival of the sun (summer solstice) called INTY RAYMY during the fourth week of June is celebrated in a traditional place called CHILCAPAMBA. They perform a traditional dance which pays homage to the sun. The sun dancers move in a rainbow pattern, wearing masks of wool and crowns of feathers. The feathers used are from a bird called PACHARACO which is now extinct. The rest of the community dresses in clothing representing anything from shamans to wolves to brides (similar to Halloween costumes). They are referred to as MONERIAS. During this festival, you can buy crafts and weavings in the market in Salasaca.


condorA symbol found very often in the weavings is the Condor, the symbol of the god of the peace. Legend has it that a condor fell in love with a woman and carried her to a cave where she was kept for years. From this union came the salasaca people. For this reason, the condor is sacred to the people here.


Another important symbol is the eagle (Anga in quichua), the symbol of the god of strength that lives in the salasaca gulches. The feathers are used to decorate the dancer for the festival of Inty Raymy (solstice), and the legs are used to make traditional knives used to husk corn.


The salasacas use plant-based dyes for their weavings. These plants include NACHYC SYSA, PUCA ANGU, VERBENA and especially the COCHINILLA which are found in Salasaca near the hostal. They also use plants located in the mountain TELIGOTE, such as KULKYS, PUMA MAKY,MORADILLA, THIPO etc.

agaveThe traditional drink of the salsacas is the TSHAWAR MIAHKY. This drink is a product of the agave (TSHAWAR SANKA in quichua). This plant is also used to make a natural shampoo. This shampoo is used to deter hair loss and dandruff as well as helping to maintain the natural color of the hair. It is also the main  food of the bovine livestock. This plant is abundant in the Salasaca area.


kapuliThe Capuli (small black cherry) which only matures in spring, is only found in the Salasaca area. In addition, there are plums, apples, pears, peaches and a great variety of exotic flowers at this time. The city of Ambato celebrates the festival of flowers and fruits the second week in February each year. In Salasaca, the festival of the Caporales and Carnival (Mardi Gras) are celebrated the first part of February.

tunisThe tunis is a medicinal plant that is cultivated in the high and dry parts of salasaca. It produces a fruit used to cure fever, rheumatism and muscular pains. This plant can be found around this hostal.


Natural medicine still prevails in Salasaca, and is used to treat a variety of illnesses. The shaman uses a cuy (guinea pig) to determine the illness that you have. There is information available about shamanism in the hostal.

casa-tradicionalThe traditional salasacan house has walls made of mud and bamboo with a straw roof. The houses don´t have windows, and have one main door. The bed, in which the whole family sleeps, is made of bamboo. At the Hostal Runa Huasi, you can see the construction of a traditional salasacan  house.

colegioThe salasaca community has seven primary schools and two high schools. In these educational institutions, the children learn Spanish, Quichua and some English. These are government institutions, and are not of the best quality. The community always welcomes any volunteer help in educating their youth.


Don't wait! Learn about the salasaca culture. For more information about the Salasacas, you can purchase the book MAGICAL WRITING IN SALASACA through