Ollantaytambo is a small town in the Urubamba valley. It is the point from which tourists take the train to Aguas Calientes. There are also some interesting ruins in the town. Most people just pass through and do not stay in the town. We stayed 1 night before catching the train to Aguas Calientes, but then liked the town so much that we stayed 3 more nights when we returned.
The town was centered around the plaza with good restaurants, shops and some specialties stores like a bakery with some wheat free products. The streets were small cobbled stone alleyways with no car access and the walls of the houses were of inka like stonework. The town had a very relaxed atmosphere.
Lesley and Phil took the opportunity to go horse riding in the mountains to an ancient ruin site. The ride was really picturesque and challenging. They both thoroughly enjoyed it.
Whilst there were explored the Parmamarca ruins, which they said were really interesting.
Ollantaytambo Ruins were a highly effective fortress during the Inca reign. The steep terraces acted as a great defense, and the site was one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle.
The site also served as a temple. A finely worked ceremonial center is at the top of the terracing. The stone was quarried from the mountainside 6km away, high above the opposite bank of the Río Urubamba. Transporting the huge stone blocks to the site was an incredible feat. The Incas’ crafty technique to move massive blocks across the river meant carting the blocks to the riverside then diverting the entire river channel around them.
On our return trip to Cuzco we visited the Moray ruins, the Salinas and Pisac for shopping.
At Pisac, we bought some beautiful alpaca rugs, wraps, ponchos and some cool dolls made in the image of those found at Inca sites.
Mike also took the opportunity to try Cuy, roasted guinea pig, which is a delicacy in Peru. The rest of us decided not to partake, finding it quite gross.
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: my improved Spanish for bartering at the market
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- Ollantaytambo ruins; Keira- seeing the lamas at the ruins; Riss- shopping in Pisac was fun
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-nothing this entry; Keira- walking up the many steps at the ruins; Riss- not going totally crazy shopping in Pisac
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- “chewy cuy”, Keira- popsicles- love them; Riss- wheat free bakery goods
BEST CAMPING SPOT: did not camp but found a great hostel in Ollantaytambo, recently opened by 2 Peruvian women- “Kamma Hostel”.
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.