Discover Ollantaytambo nestled in the Sacred Valley, not far from Cusco.
Photo by Thibault Houspic/Flickr
You can think of Ollantaytambo as a small town with big attractions. Ollantaytambo is surrounded by majestic archeological sites that are built on the slopes of a narrow section of the Sacred Valley, contributing to its picturesque beauty.The town is known as the “Living Inca Town”, a title derived from the fact that parts of the town date back to Inca times. Last, but not least, the train station in Ollantaytambo is where travelers can catch a ride to Machu Picchu.
All this gives a particular rhythm to the life in Ollantaytambo.
Mornings are mostly what you would expect of a small rural town. Yes, there are several restaurants and souvenir shops, but everyone seems to take their time to go about their daily businesses. Locals may go for a stroll at the main plaza, enjoy the sun or discuss the latest gossip. The stalls at the town’s small artisan market slowly fill in. The drowsy town transitions into a lively hub shortly after noon as the first buses filled with travelers arrive.
It’s easy to spot tour guides who really know their trade because they make sure their group stays together after they get off their bus and control the travelers’ natural curiosity, telling them that there will be time to shop for souvenirs after their visit to the town’s archaeological complex. Then it’s a matter of getting them all to the main gate with their tickets ready so that the group can start the breathtaking tour. Visiting the Inca remains in Ollantaytambo is literally breathtaking for some because it requires climbing a fair number of stairs to get around this well-preserved site.
When tourists emerge again from the entrance gate, it’s time for a much needed snack at one of the nearby cafes. Ollantaytambo visitors may feel as if they have been transported to a quaint Mediterranean town as they enjoy afternoon refreshments and watch the bustle of the local market. This transplanted ambiance nestled in the shadows of the Andes Mountains and terraced by the ancient Inca is the manifestation of Iberian and Andean cultures infused and intertwined.
Modern life starts nagging again after a tour of the city’s archeological attractions. As the buses prepare for their departure, passengers board and head back to Cusco or continue onto Machu Picchu by train. Most travelers only spend a day in Ollantaytambo, but those that spend the night will experience the town at a more leisurely, peaceful pace.