The Peruvian Andes: 1540
The Incas hold a ritual ceremony. The high priest, Manco, gives the greatest warrior a golden headpiece and tells him that he now holds the key and will protect the Garden of Gold forever.
MacGyver travels to Lima, Peru for the funeral of his college friend Maria's father. Later at the University of San Marcos, MacGyver meets with Maria, who plans to go after the Treasure of Manco that her father dedicated the last 15 years of his life to finding. Both he and his guide died in the field, apparently killed by Enrique, a rebel guerilla. MacGyver and Maria knew Enrique during college. Like her father before her, Maria believes that the treasure can be used to buy food for the starving Peruvians and lift them out of poverty. She shows MacGyver the headpiece of Manco, which her father found in the ruins of a conquistadors' camp. She explains the legend of how Manco gave the headpiece and appointed him the guardian of the treasure. MacGyver agrees to help her find the treasure.
MacGyver and Maria travel into the mountains and go to the Peruvian National Army's military base. Captain Diaz, the base commander, found the two corpses nearby. Ramon, the son of the dead guide, arrives and offers to act as their guide. He vows revenge on Enrique for the murders, but MacGyver insists that they're about justice, not vengeance. Ramon will only agree not to let his personal business interfere in his duties to them. Diaz warns that Enrique and his guerillas are dangerous and offers to let them stay at the base for the night.
That night, Maria and MacGyver examine the headpiece and notice a symbol that refers to the "Steps to the Condor". There are also two cats surmounting a V shape. Finally, there's a phrase referring to the "Place of Infinite Vision". They're interrupted when guerillas cut through the side of the tent and take them prisoner. The guerillas escort them to the rebel headquarters where Enrique is waiting for them. He tells the guerillas to release them and then explains that he had nothing to do with the death of Maria's father. Maria doesn't believe him and even MacGyver is skeptical of his old friend. Enrique insists that he was once a peaceful man, but the only way to fight the corrupt government is with violence. The guerillas abducted them because they believed they were involved with the government. When Maria refuses to change her mind, Enrique tells them they're free to go back to the base.
The next morning, MacGyver, Maria, and Ramon depart while Diaz tells them that his men will continue to scour the area to find Enrique and his people. They go to where the two dead men were found at their camp. MacGyver realizes there's no shelter and it's a poor camping spot, so there must have been another reason they set up there. Surveying the panoramic view, MacGyver and Maria realize they're at the "Place of Infinite Vision". Studying the headpiece, MacGyver finds two peaks that resemble cats and a V shape between them. Ramon directs them to an Incan ruin that is along the path toward the peaks and they prepare to leave. Men wearing guerilla uniforms open fire and the trio are forced to drop the headpiece and retreat into the bushes. The guerillas take the headpiece and leave. Ramon prepares to go after them but MacGyver stops him, saying they'll recover the headpiece his way.
At the base, Diaz's man Luna reports that one of their patrols has disappeared. The captain orders his men to go out and start searching.
MacGyver, Maria, and Ramon follow the guerilla's hoof prints, which lead back to Enrique's camp. They watch as a guerilla gives Enrique the headpiece. Ramon sneaks off and prepares to shoot Enrique. However, he only wounds the man in the shoulder. The guerillas capture them all and take them to Enrique. He tells them that he didn't kill anyone and shows them the supposed guerillas. They have army dog tags and are members of Diaz's death squads. Enrique's people captured them and recovered the headpiece. MacGyver and Maria, realizing that Enrique has been telling the truth all along, apologize to their friend.
In the field, Diaz consults the journal he stole from Maris' father. He figures that MacGyver and the others are heading for the Incan ruin and proceeds in that direction with his men.
At the ruins, MacGyver and the others find a stone lid covering a shaft descending into the cliffside. However, there's no way down and the shaft seems to go forever. Enrique examines the headpiece and realizes that the "Steps of the Condor" refer to steps leading down the side of the cliff. They find the steps and descend downward. Meanwhile, Diaz and his men arrive near the rebel camp. They spot MacGyver and the others going down and follow.
MacGyver, Enrique, Maria, and Ramon find a tablet marked with a condor in the side of the cliff. Prying it out, they find a passageway beyond. They follow it into a huge chamber with a giant statue of a goddess. The statue has a slot for its mouth and MacGyver realizes that the headpiece functions as a key. He inserts it and the statue swings aside to reveal an enormous chamber beyond. Another enormous statue fills one end of the room, holding a plate in each hand. The room is filled with large urns, and each one contains a variety of seeds.
Diaz and his men arrive and thank MacGyver and the others for leading him to the treasure. Thinking quickly, MacGyver tells him that the statue is of Quintano, the Protector of the Fields. He explains that the natives protected their seeds from the conquistadors by dumping them down the shaft through the stone lid above. MacGyver tries to bargain for the others' live but Diaz tells him to show him the gold. MacGyver climbs on one of the statue's plates and drops his full weight onto it. The mouth of the statue starts to open. MacGyver has Enrique get on the other plate. The mouth opens fully and millions of seeds spray out, smashing Diaz to the ground. MacGyver and Enrique jump the guards and knock them out, while Ramon renders Diaz unconscious when he tries to shoot Enrique. As they recover, MacGyver explains that the headpiece showed pictures of grain, and he realized that the entire "Garden of Gold" was designed to store seeds. He made up the whole store about Quintano, which was actually the name of a ski instructor who almost got MacGyver and Enrique killed during their college years.
Outside, Enrique and the guerillas take the rest of Diaz's men into custody. Enrique assures MacGyver, Maria, and Ramon that he'll turn Diaz over to the government in return for an agreement that they receive a public trail that will reveal the full extent of their corruption. He believes that thanks to the seeds from the Garden, many of which are previously unknown, he can now find a peaceful way to help his starving people.