I have already written a detailed report about our trip to Ecuador.
This series of posts will detail our trip to Peru and ultimately one of the new seven wonders of the world – Machu Picchu.
This post (part 4) will cover things to do in Ollantaytambo.
Part 1: Traveling to Machu Picchu: The Basics
Part 2: Planning travel and lodging
Part 3: Travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
Part 4: Things to do in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Part 5: Eating in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Part 6: Cycling down a mountain
Part 7: Hiking on an Inca trail
Part 8: Zip lining and hiking to Aguas Calientes
Part 9: The climb to Machu Picchu
Part 10: How much did our trip to Peru cost?
Wander the streets of Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is a small village of a few thousand people in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It is a common stopover on the way to Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. And when you look around, this will not come as a surprise. In the center part of town are old stone enclosures and walkways that are over 500 years old.
The reason most people go to Ollataytambo is simply to catch the train to Machu Picchu. Unless you want to hike, the train is the only way to get to Machu Picchu. Trains on either Inca Rail or Peru Rail run between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo about 20 times per day. Because they have a monopoly on transportation to Machu Picchu, expect to pay between $80 and $100 USD each way (in peak season) for the 90 minute ride. We chose Peru Rail, as they offer more time options and had more online reviews.
Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site
The main attraction within Ollantaytambo, dominating the west side of town, is the Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site. The site combines grand Incan terrances, with monolithic stone structures.
Admission to the Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site is 70 Peruvian soles (about $21 USD) and can be purchased at the entrance. A better buy, if you plan to explore Cusco and the Sacred Valley, is the boleto touristico, which, for 130 Peruvian soles (about $36 USD) also covers sites like Pisac, Chinchero, Moray, Qenqo and Sachsayhuaman. However, it does not cover entrance to Machu Picchu. Most places do no take credit cards, and ATMs are hard to find.
Hike to Pinkuylluna
High above the village of Ollantaytambo, the ruins of Pinkuylluna beckon you to come explore them. Take the road on the northeast corner of Plaza Mayor. Walk down a couple minutes, and on your right will be a sign for Pinkuylluna. From this point it is a 20 to 30 minute walk to the ruins. Admission is free but the gate closes around 5:00 p.m.
Hike to Quello Raqay
For a short trip, try a walk to Quello Raqay. The entire trip is less than an hour round trip, but you will be rewarded with some small ruins that you will have all to yourself.
From the center of town, take Ave Estudiante toward the river. The road will end at a stadium. To the right of the stadium you will see a small footpath. Follow it for 5 or 10 minutes. Soon you will round a corner and see ruins in the near distance.
Hike to Choqana
If you want another short hike, to have some small ruins all to yourself, consider a hike to Choqana.
Head out the east end of town (probably the way you arrived into Ollantaytambo) and down the hill to the river. Cross the Inca Bridge and follow the road as it bends to your left. Keep walking until you see the ruins on your right. It should take about 30 to 45 minute to reach Choqana.
Walk to massive Incan terraces
Walk Camino a Willoq north out of town into the valley for about 45 minutes to an hour and come across a massive hillside with ancient Incan terraces called Musqa Pukyo. It’s hard to count without losing track, but there are close to 100 terraces.
Hike to Pumamarca
If you are a little more adventurous, and have more time, spend about 90 minutes to two hours hiking to Pumamarca. It’s more challenging than the other hikes, but you will be rewarded with amazing views and ruins to yourself. I have done this hike twice. Both times I had the entire place to myself. The second time, there was someone near the bottom who sold me a ticket for 10 soles.
If you are interested in this adventure, I have written another post with detailed directions on how to get to Pumamarca.
Food is cheap and delicious in Peru. If you look around, you can find a menu del dia (soup and an entree) for 10 soles or under (under $3 USD). At these prices, you can try many different places in town.
Yes, Ollantaytambo is considered just a stopover on the way to Machu Picchu. But it’s a charming town that grows on you and it is worth considering staying for a couple nights.
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