Day 26 - Ollantaytambo Archaeological Park

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South America » Peru » Cusco
October 30th 2018
Published: October 31st 2018
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Today being our only full free day in Ollantaytambo I had decided to use the day to inspect the Ollantaytambo Archaeological Park which is the major site for the town. In fact, the whole town is historic as the stone roads, walkways and all of the buildings or at part of the buildings are the same that the Incas built. It is argued that Ollantaytambo is the oldest continually inhabited town in South America and i for one would believe that. As we had the whole day, we had a relaxed start and read up about the site before getting to the park at 10:15. The weather started very sunny and warm but we noticed dark clouds coming over and it did just shower a bit during our visit.

All the major sites and museums require you to buy a tourist ticket that then covers all entrance fees (except Machu Picchu) and we were given that ticket by Julio yesterday. When you see the site from afar the steps look daunting, but we had all day so took it easy. We rested every now and again to admire the view from different levels, and before we knew it we had reached the top. It is easy navigating most of the sites because they have arrows pointing the direction to walk. As we walked up, we passed the very large agricultural terraces and then at the top we saw finely cut stone walls such as the “Enclosure of Ten Niches”, similar to the ones we will see at Machu Picchu. Then the uncompleted Temple of the Sun with its “Wall of the Six Monoliths”, the military zone and storehouses. . At he highest point there is an option to do a further hike upwards to another site but having read some reviews I decided to save my legs for tomorrow. One thing we had missed altogether until reading about it is the face of Wiracocha is carved into the mountain next to the granary buildings I had climbed to yesterday. Wiracocha is the Inca god who they believed was the creator of everything. Sounds like the same God in Western religions. We didn’t even notice it but once you see it, you always see it.

We then had to walk back down a bit to the Balcon Pata which is walkway to the other side to two large buildings. You wouldn’t want to suffer from vertigo walking along this unrailed walkway. It was then a relatively easy walk down to the bottom, where the religious area is filled with baths and fountains such as the “Banos de Nusta” made of granite, that are still working today.

The hillside actually forms the Ollantaytambo Fortress, which was the last stronghold for Inca Manco Yupanqui, who led the resistance against the Spanish and defeated them in one famous battle but then fled because he knew the Spaniards would return with more forces.

We spent three hours on this site and found it fascinating. I have read that this is a very under-rated site and often over-looked by tourists. Many people just do a day visit from Cusco or just use it as a transit point for Machu Picchu. and considering its importance in Inca history it would be a shame to miss it.

We then did a bit of shopping in the markets next to the park and discovered that the prices are actually cheaper here than they were in the Pisac markets. By now it was 13:45 so we decided to try the Hearts Café that was recommended by Lonely Planet and we had a very satisfying lunch ordering non-Peruvian food. We took our time and Daisy decided to go back to the hotel to get warmer clothing so it was 16:00 before we set off on a walk to the eastern side of the town where the tourist map indicated there were some more Inca ruins. The first one didn’t amount to much but the second one Punku Punku, had a pretty garden next to it and we decided to continue walking along the track that eventually led back to the road and the river. It was a very nice walk but Daisy was getting pretty tired by the time we got back into town.

The final thing we wanted to do was find the statue for Kura Ocllo who was the wife of Manco Yupanqui. Daisy had asked our hotel receptionist for directions and we found her situated next to the river. It is quite an impressive statue and shows her determination and strength. It’s a shame it is off the beaten track, we only knew about it because it was featured on the front of one of the maps we got. We then went back to the hotel at 17:30 and once there we decided to skip dinner and get an early night for our journey tomorrow to Machu Picchu.

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