Ollantaytambo – A day trip from Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo is probably one of my favourite day trips from Cusco, Peru.  It is 72 kilometres from Cusco which is about 2 hours away by minibus.

The buses from Cusco go from Calle Pavitos with Calle Belen, which is about a 10 minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas and it costs about 10 soles (3 USD).  You will find buses going to Urubamaba (you can change in the bus station) or directly to Ollantaytambo.

If you have done the Inca Trail then this is the place where you will have stopped to stock up on last minute snacks, water or walking sticks.  It is also a popular day tour from Cusco but it is also easy to do independently as there are plently of buses that go from Cusco.

This would be my 3rd visit to the ruins here and I decided to get the bus and stay overnight as there is a second set of ruins that you can see from Ollantaytambo which I have never visited and I keep saying I must go see them, so I decided to stay overnight and see both.

I got the bus in the morning and checked straight into my hostel, the Ollantaytampu Hostel, located 50 metres from the Plaza de Armas.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It’s a nice clean little hostel, in a great location with great views from the roof terrace.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I then decided to go to the main ruins that was included within the tourist ticket I had bought in Cusco.  As I was walking there it started raining as it was doing most days between 12 and 2, so again it was out with the rain jacket to see another set of ruins in the rain!!

Ollantaytambo town is 2,800 metres above sea level with the ruins climbing several hundred more metres up the mountain.

I entered the ruins and this is the first view you get, there were lots of tourists already inside and a lot more groups would be around later too.  It is one of the most popular ruins in the region.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo was the royal estate for the Emperor Pachacuti.  The main ruins visited by tourists is the ceremonial site, referred to as temple hill.  Above the terraces there is a sun temple and the wall of the Six Monoliths (see pic below).  These are unfinished and it shows evidence that the site was still being constructed when it was abandoned.

Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was exploring I saw an open door with a path up the mountain and so I decided to explore as I had hours left before it shut.  By this time the rain was easing.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I climbed up the mountain another 20 minutes where I found more ruins, I then climbed a bit higher, found a rock to sit on and had the most amazing views.  As most tourists have a limited amount of time in Ollantaytambo, this part of the ruins was empty and I had the place to myself.  The views from here are amazing.  I decided to stay here, relax, read my kindle and enjoy the views for a while.  I think I now understand why the Inca’s built there settlements on mountains, it wasn’t for a defensive reason but to enjoy these views!!

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

When it was getting close to 4pm I decided to climb back down, as the gate to the ruins shut at 4pm, and I explored the rest of the ruins.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After visiting the ruins I went into the town and had dinner and a few drinks on the way back to the hostel.

The next day I was up early so that I could go visit the other set of ruins you can see on the other mountain. To get there you walk along calle Principal away from the Plaza de Armas until you reach Lares Calle which is just a little alleyway.

Ollyantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After the first alleyway on the left, the entrance to the other set of ruins is just through a door on your right that will be open with a little sign showing the ruins are that way.  It is between Calle 1 & 2 in the alleyway.

There are ruins all over the mountain at this side too, mainly there are storehouses, where they would store the products from the terraces.  The high altitude and climate helped against the decay.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I then climbed to the highest part of the ruins and once again, spent a few hours sat looking at the amazing views and reading my kindle.  I even somehow managed to get wifi from my hostel at the top of the mountain!! How does that work?

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After a few hours exploring this side of the valley it was back down the mountain to get my bags and return to Cusco.  You can get a combi from either the Plaza de Armas direct to Cusco or just around the corner, near the market are combi’s to Urubamba where you can change buses (this way does take a little longer) to get to Cusco.

Ollantaytambo is a great day trip from Cusco, or a great little town to visit for a few days if you have time, and its an easy option to do on your own.

Have you visited here? What did you think of these ruins?

If you enjoyed this post or found it useful then please pin it.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

 

Share This:

Pisac – A day trip from Cusco Peru

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was spending over 3 weeks in Cusco I decided to get the tourist ticket for 130 soles (40 USD) so that I could go and see all the Inca Ruins in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.  I had already seen them all 4 years previously on a tour but this time I wanted the option of spending more time and being able to fully explore them.  I decided the first ruin I would visit was Pisac (or Pisaq in the local Quechua language), it is located 33km east of Cusco.

I decided to get the local bus so that I could spend as much time as I wanted there.  The bus to Pisac leaves from calle Puputi which is just off Recoleta.  It is about a 15 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas.  The bus also passes Sacsayhuaman and the other Inca Ruins near Cusco if you want to get a bus to them.  On Puputi street you will hear lots of men shouting “Pisac, Pisac”, these are the minibuses to Pisac which go quite frequently or when they are full.  It should cost around 6 soles (2 USD) to Pisac and you can negotiate less if you are not going that far.  The journey is normally around 45 minutes and they drop you off by the river in Pisac and it is just a 5 minutes walk to the entrance of the ruins.  The minibuses return to Cusco from the same place.  I love getting the local buses and meeting the local people, there normally isn’t any seat belts so maybe not too safe and you are crammed in with everyone but for me it feels like I am experiencing life there rather than being a tourist!!

As you get near to Pisac and are driving down the valley towards the river you can see Pisac high up on the mountain in front of you.  It is an amazing site, you can see the farming terraces cut into the side of the mountain.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

The town of Pisac is located at 2,900 metres with the highest point of the ruins at 3,400 metres, it is quite a hard walk up to see “Inti Watana” which is where the ceremonial platform and temple of the sun are, but you can rest, take lots of pictures and enjoy the amazing views.

Once you have walked through all the markets and parted with all your cash from buying some of the amazing clothes and trinkets they have in Peru, you will see the welcome to Pisac sign. The large market is open Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday though you will find a smaller market open on other days.   You carry on up this path, where you will have your ticket checked before finally entering Pisac.  It is open from 7am to 6pm so you have lots of time to explore this huge site.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It is not known when Pisac was built but it is not earlier than 1440 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in the 1530’s.  It was a royal estate and as you are climbing up you can see the agricultural terraces that were built into the side of the mountain.  The fertile soil was brought from the valley so that the crops would grow.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was walking up the mountain the views down into the valley were amazing, despite the rainy and cloudy day.  I kept stopping to look and enjoy the views of the town and the river snaking through the valley.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As you are walking up the mountain you can see the towers from the citadel (the military part) above you.  I continued upward not realising that these towers would mean I was only halfway up the mountain.  It was around this time that the heavens opened and we had a heavy downpour.   It is something I would get used to while being in Cusco, as it was the rainy season it would rain most days in the afternoon!!  Generally between 12 and 2 which is not great timing when you want to go exploring!!

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

When I reached the military sector I had a walk around as there are lots of ruins in this section, though it is hard to work out what the buildings were used for if you are not with a guide!!  There are people walking around who are guides but as I had done a previous tour I didn’t want to do another guided tour.  It is thought that Pisac defended the southern entrance of the sacred valley, with Choquequirao the west and Ollantaytambo the northern entrance.  The views looking down on the citadel are spectacular, even when it’s pouring down!!

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As you are walking up the hill from the citadel you can see the main ceremonial plaza, so it was head down as it was raining so hard and a trek up another steep hill to the top.

At the top I had reached Inti Watana the religious part of the site.  Here you can see baths, water fountains, altars, the temple of the sun.  Though for me the higher section was closed off, I think because it was raining so hard.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After I had had a look around I had a sit down in a little covered area, the only area after the agricultural terraces with shelter, and tried drying off a little, reading my book and just enjoying the view.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After this it was back on with the waterproofs and down the mountain in the rain.  There are a few paths so you can go down a different way to how you came up and see different parts of the ruins while you are going down.  It would of been amazing to have been able to sit up here and enjoy the amazing views for a few hours but it wasn’t meant to be!! Maybe next time!!

Once I was back at the bottom it was a short walk through the town and back to the bus for the journey back to Cusco.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It is a great site to visit and the views are stunning and will be even more so on a sunny day, though you will need sun cream and a hat as there is very little shelter!!  If you get a chance it’s worth a visit!!

If you enjoyed this post, it would be great if you could pin it.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Share This: