The town of Ollantaytambo is the last stop, where you catch the train to Machu Picchu town, or it is the first stop for some who plan on taking the Inca trail hike. Whatever your agenda is, make sure you get out and explore this amazing place. There are two very different ruins to explore here. The main ruins that are included in the Boleto Turistico sit next to the tourist market, sometimes called Ollantaytambo Fortress, sometimes Temple Hill.
Beautiful and functional fountains and baths are at the base of the hill, stretch your legs here before making the hike up. This was the final stronghold for the Inca against the Spanish invasion and their most famous victory against the conquistadors. You can begin by climbing up the steep stairs to get to the temple area.
Roam around the rooms and walls of the religious center, searching for who knows what in every nook and cranny.
There are massive stones that are 50 tons a piece. I found a path leading up away from the ruins and masses of people late in the afternoon. I kept climbing, not sure how far the trail would lead, until an outcropping appeared with more ruins. They were not it great shape, but the already magnificent view multiplied in its glory.
You can see why this was such an essential location for battle, look at that vantage point. Notice the structures in the mountain across the way, that’s where the second ruins lie. But just before we head there, you may spot a face of a deity carved into the mountain, Wiracocha – the creator of all. Pretty amazing feat on that sheer Cliffside. To find the second ruins, called Pinkuylluna is a bit more of a task. They are free to enter and perhaps not very well known, because no one else was there when we visited. Ask around, point up at the mountain if you can’t communicate in Spanish, a local woman pointed us in the direction. The walk to get there, just out of the main section of town, is worth visiting regardless of the hike.
A gorgeous narrow cobbled road follows a canal, this area has been continuously inhabited since Incan times – showing their city grid layout. We reached the discreet entrance and noticed that the hours are from 7:00AM-4:30PM, we wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to hike so we had to make it snappy. The view towards the ruins we were just at came into view quickly as we rose in elevation.
The desert like flora here is really beautiful, Jeff only gave me half a second to snap a picture of some succulents before he was leagues away.
Catching up the granary came into sight pretty quickly, hazardous on the hill.
You can walk right up to it and into the different rows, the base is for only the most adventurous as it’s a far ways down.
There is a potential to climb to the higher ruins and take other side trails, but we just didn’t have the time. Our last stop was to catch the ride to Aguas Calientes, aka Machu Picchu town. We walked to the train station – you have to be there at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Right beside the tracks is a nice restaurant El Albergue Restaurant. You could have a full on dinner here or a quick bite at the café. We had just enough time to have drinks (chicha morada made of purple corn and mate de coca), panini sandwiches, and dessert while making sure our train wasn’t going anywhere.
The food was pretty good, your standard fare, but the service was quick and that’s what was really important. So we said goodbye to the Sacred Valley and took the scenic train ride to the archeological wonder that sparked the whole trip to Peru, we were finally headed to Machu Picchu!