Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Shady Ady on September 16, 2006

As we were approaching Ollantaytambo, our tour guide informed us to be ready to see some of the best preserved and outstanding Inca ruins that can still be viewed today. After seeing the delights on offer at Machu Picchu, I thought that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have to admit I was totally wrong. In my eyes, behind Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is one of the best attractions of Inca heritage on offer in Peru.

Located at a slightly lower altitude of 2,800m, compared to other places in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo is around 2 hours (75km) from Cusco. The actual town of Ollantaytambo, located next to the ruins, is built upon the top of original Inca foundations, and is the best example of Inca town planning surviving to this day. It is so good, that all of the irrigation systems are still intact and in use, and can be seen along the narrowed cobbled streets. In total there are fifteen square blocks of streets or canchas that formed the town of Incan Ollytantambo.

The location of Ollantaytambo, which means ‘Storehouse of my Lord’, connects perfectly between Machu Picchu and the mountain range of Vilcabamba, along the Inca road. Even though the ruins were not completed, they served as both a temple and a fortress. It was here where Manco Inca retreated in order to amass his armies after the fall of Cusco to the Spanish Conquistadores.

It’s hard to describe the enormity of this once dominant complex. Upon reaching the outskirts of Ollytantambo, the first evident signs of past glory can be seen, with a number of well preserved look-out towers viewable on both sides of the valley. These look as though they were carved straight from the rock face. As you pass through the town entrance, which has been restructured from the original main gate of Incan Ollytantambo, the main ruins come into sight, dominating the skyline.

The ticket ‘Boleto Turistico’ (approximately $25, but grants access to 15 other attractions around Cusco) gains you entrance to the ruins, which is strategically positioned, in the lower Urubamba Valley. The main spectacle of the ruins, the temple, is located at the top of steep terracing, which helped to provide an impressive defence system. What’s even more impressive is that the stone used in these ruins was brought all the way from a quarry on the opposite side of the valley, beyond the Urubamba River. Such work must have involved thousands of workers.

The town of Ollytantambo has more or less all amenities that you could need, including a wide selection of hostels and hotels. The only problems I can envisage are that the ruins are set upon steep terraces that are very hard work to climb, even without the altitude added on top. Also buy water outside of the ruins if you need it, as there isn’t any available inside. More information on the Inca ruins and the town itself can be found at www.ollantaytambo.org/en
93 kilómetros al NE
Cusco, Peru


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