Monday, November 17, 2008

Peru Trip Timeline: Part 6 - Ollantaytambo

When we left Aguas Calientes, the day after visiting Machu Picchu, we stopped in a town called Ollantaytambo. The town is the site of another set of Incan ruins. Our initial intent was to visit the ruins and get a hotel to stay the night and head back to Cusco the next day. However, as I read more about the site, it became clear that we wouldn't spend an entire afternoon walking around the ruins. Instead, we stowed our luggage with a service offered by PeruRail for just that sort of thing and walked into town to get some lunch.

Frommer's had said that the hostal in which we were originally planning to stay had a decent lunch setup, so that was our first stop. All of the chairs were up on the tables and there was nobody around except the manager. She recommended a place that was on the Plaza de Armas (of Ollantaytambo) called Ollantay. We walked a little further and got to the plaza. It is at this time that I must admit something—I forgot to take pictures of the Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo. I do, however, have some video, though it was cut short by the arrival of drinks (only Coke) at our table.

After lunch, we walked back towards the ruins. We learned our lesson at Sacsayhuamán and got along just fine at Machu Picchu, so we went without a guide once again. Thankfully, there was a map right at the beginning of the site that showed the major routes for most tours. Along with the map, there were plaques with blue arrows pointing the way.

In one of the pictures above, you can see the general feel of the site. The main terraces climb up the side of a mountain. Another set of ruins, believed to be grain storage, are on the opposite side of the valley. We only visited the main terraces, though, either side would have greeted us with a lot of climbing.

Above the terraces, there are ruins of what used to be a temple along with some really cool carvings.

From above the terraces, there are really good views of the Sacred Valley.

Ollantaytambo is pretty dry and windy, but there are a couple of nearby rivers. Part of their expertise was in irrigation and some of the techniques they used are still in use to this day.

It took us about 2 hours to walk through the terraces. We decided to not attempt the other side of the valley because we were already winded and the other side had a steeper climb. We walked back to pick up our luggage and got a taxi back to Cusco. The drive back took about an hour and a half through the Sacred Valley. The scenery was beautiful—I even saw my first snow-capped mountain!

Disclaimer: While in Peru, Amy and I managed to take around 2250 photos, much less than our preparations, but still over 6GB worth. The pictures that we post online are, understandably, a small subset. The ones about which we blog are an even smaller subset. If you want to see more pictures, there are a couple of links on the side-bar. I will be uploading over the span of a few days and blogging could take a couple of weeks.

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