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