Ollantaytambo

Temple of the Sun at Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo (called by locals Ollanta) is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cusco in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. This is where the Incas retreated after the Spanish took Cusco. Much of the town is laid out in the same way as it was in Inca times.

Get in

By bus

There are frequent buses to and from Urubamba (2 soles); further connection can be made to Cusco there (3 soles). At 3:50PM, 4:40PM and 5:20PM there are direct buses leaving from Av Grau 525 in Cusco (5 soles). (how much time does this trip take, more specifically? i who ask would guess ~3hrs, up to ~4 if you need to make a change on the way)

By rail

Two types of trains arrive at the station. The first is locals only that is heavily monitored to ensure no tourists ride it. There are hefty fines if caught on the locals' train. The second is the tourist train which runs Cusco/Ollantaytambo/Aguas Calientes. If you are doing the Inca Trail, you will want to get on the train to Aguas Calientes and get off when the train stops mid-route.

There are three types of tourist trains. Ordered by descending price, they are the Hiram Bingham, Vistadome, and Backpacker trains. Go to Peru Rail's website for the current prices and schedule.

If you purchase a ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, you cannot get off at Ollantaytambo for a few hours and then use the same ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. If you want to spend time in Ollantaytambo, it is more cost effective to take a bus to Urubamba from Cusco and then a connecting bus to Ollantaytambo (or a direct minivan).

After Trekking to Machu Picchu

Many guide services include a train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or all the way to Cusco as a part of the guided services. In the former situation, trekkers are expected to pay for their own bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco and are informed of this in advance. Taking the bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco as opposed to the trains full route saves a half hour to an hour. Inquire with your tour operator in advance as to which tickets they purchase. Tickets purchased by the guide services to Ollantaytambo can be changed at the station the day of or the day before depending upon seat availability. Change fees can range from 0-$20 depending upon the class of train that is being changed to. Arrive at least 45 minutes early as there may be a line, for the earliest trains (5:30AM) the ticket office opens at 5AM.

Travelers & Trekkers can make excellent use of the obligatory return trip to Cusco by staying the night in Aguas Calientes after visiting Machu Picchu and visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins, the salt mines near Maras/Urubamba, the Incan agricultural lab of Moray, or the ruins above Pisac the next day (all of which are along the route back to Cusco in that order). Choose two sites and allow a half day for each site for relaxed viewing, transit, and meals. The last buses from Pisac to Cusco leave around 8PM. Be aware of your belongings on busses after dark. Or, stay in Pisac and backtrack to any of the sites the next day. Inquire at Ulrike's cafe in Pisac for lodging recommendations (open until 9PM).

Get around

Walking or cycling is the best idea. Three wheeled moto-taxis and regular taxis are available at the train station but are not necessary. The walk from the train station to the main plaza is approximately a quarter mile (400 m). It can be broken up by various restaurants that line the way even after the busiest sections. It is a two minute walk from the main plaza to the ruins.

See

Entrance to the ruins

The main square in Ollantaytambo is usually swarming with hikers and porters, but a few blocks away is a vibrant community still living in pre-Columbian dwellings. If you still have a guide, see if he can take you into one of these houses, where alpaca fetuses hang on the walls (to bring fertility), ancestors' skulls watch over the goings-on from niches in the Incan stonework, and dozens of guinea pigs scoot underfoot (the entrée at some future feast).

Do

Look for houses with red plastic bags hanging outside on posts. These houses are where locals go to drink chicha, a local brew made out of corn. It is a great way to experience the local flavor, provided that you speak enough Spanish to communicate with the other chicha drinkers. It is advisable that you look for a place that serves things other than chicha, as some people find the taste unpleasant. However this is an acquired taste and can be overcome easily. Chicha, unlike masato made in the rainforest is not made by mixing with saliva as erroneously stated in the entry that this is correcting. Careful with the chicha, however - it is sometimes made under unhygienic conditions and it could make you quite sick.

For bookings and inquiries please contact tours@awamaki.org or stop by the Awamaki fair trade store in Ollantaytambo.

Buy

There are several shops, mainly Inca souvenir types. A market plaza for tourists sits at the entrance to the ruins, small shops up the hill from the plaza may carry the same items and be more willing to negotiate.

On the way from the ruins to the plaza, look out for the Awamaki Fair Trade Store after the bridge on your right hand side. Emphasis is on fairly-traded weavings from the Patacancha valley made with 100% natural fibers and dyes, as well as a select range of books, alpaca yarn and other locally produced artisanal items. The project is non-profit and proceeds from the store are invested into community development projects in the Patacancha Valley.

Eat

There are several restaurants in Ollantaytambo:

Drink

The English Pub: Ollanta's first "pub" opened in early 2010. Landlord Porfirio has years of experience bar-tending and knows what a real bar needs. The only place in town with British ales on tap, comfy sofas and satellite TV. Local non-profit Awamaki hosts regular quiz nights, salsa nights and everything-else nights in between.

Hang out at El Ganso with very down-to-earth owner "Acha".

Sleep


Hostels

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 17, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.