Hola Peru lovers! My name is Oswaldo and welcome to my short guide on Ollantaytambo. I’m a 27 year old who works in advertising. I’m from the north of Peru (Chiclayo) where I lived until I was 18. Chiclayo is a place where the sun rises almost everyday of the year with a warm climate. It has beaches and lots of culture due to museums and archaeological sites.
At 18 I moved to Lima to study and work. That is when I started traveling. When I was 19, I started working for an advertising agency as a content creator. We worked with a brand that promoted travel related to adventure tourism. From that moment I was delighted with traveling and I haven’t stopped since. I worked and traveled for 3 years with this brand – hiking through dunes, beaches, jungle and what I love the most: mountains.
Why Ollantaytambo is such a Special Place
In 2016, I traveled to Cusco for the first time. I gave myself this gift for my birthday. To go to Machu Picchu I had to leave from Ollantaytambo. What most travelers do is go to Ollantaytambo and then wait for the train that takes you to Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo is incredible for all of its history.
This archaeological site, from its highest point, also serves as a viewpoint for the city itself which also bears the same name. Both its streets and the ruins transmit a unique energy and vibe. I have been to Ollantaytambo about 5 or 6 times. In these months of the pandemic, I have been 3 times.
I had the opportunity to live in Cusco from June to August and it was a mandatory step to go to Ollantaytambo. This destination always offers a different view and never ceases to amaze. The sunsets here are unique, being surrounded by mountains makes it spectacular. The same with the people who live there. All of that makes it an incredible experience.
I have a photo of Ollantaytambo that I love and it’s even one that I am thinking of tattooing, since I consider that few people see Ollantaytambo from that angle. All of Ollantaytambo is amazing. Each part of its platforms, terraces and stone architecture makes Ollantaytambo a very unique and special place. Also, the history here is palpable – you can feel it!
Ollantaytambo, like many places in Cusco, served as a military and agricultural point. As I said in the lines above, from the highest point you get views to see the city. However, in the time of the Incas, these viewpoints would be used to see if enemies were approaching. Being in the quarry where the stones were extracted to build this place is exciting too.
4 Best Things To Do in Ollantaytambo
The archeological site of Ollantaytambo is the most representative and popular place to visit in the area. However, there are a couple more magical spots to discover in the surrounding areas. So here are the top 4:
- Walk to the Pinkuylluna Archaeological Site: These are old Inca storehouses that can be seen from the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo. The best thing about them is that very few people know that you can get to this place on foot. They are located quite spectacularly on the side of a hill, making for amazing photos.
- Hike to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku): Very close to Ollantaytambo is the Sun Gate, otherwise known as Inti Punku. The hike to the top is 7km of pure climb. On the hike you can see the entire valley of Cusco and when you get to Inti Punku you can see the mountain, Nevado Veronica.
- Discover the Incredible Huchuy Qosqo: Only one hour from Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley, lies an extraordinary archaeological site called Huchuy Qosqo. To get there you can leave from the Piuray Lagoon or from the Qoriqocha Lagoon, and then go along the entire route of the Qhapaq Nan. This trip involves 15km of trekking but the views are wonderful as you pass through canyons, streams and even a ghost town. This route is fantastic for those who love to go hiking.
- Explore the City of Ollantaytambo: With its cobblestone streets, inhabitants, markets, culture, mystique and food – you can literally spend hours here walking around and spotting amazing new places to photograph. All of these options are great for adventure seekers. If you are going to Ollantaytambo for the first time, it’s all just a matter of organizing yourself properly and enjoying those beautiful places.
My One Favorite Memory in Ollantaytambo
Every time I go to a town I like to share with its inhabitants, learn about their customs, talk with the locals and learn about their life experiences. In 2016, on my first visit to Ollantaytambo, I had to wait for my train to Aguas Calientes that left at night. I had about 4-5 hours in which I had to wait.
After walking all over the city, and being somewhat exhausted, I decided to go to its main park. At that time there were some children playing soccer. So I joined them but it was difficult to run as the altitude is more than 2,700 meters. This was an experience that stuck with me and I always remember it. Playing with kids at that time, while the afternoon was falling and being surrounded by mountains, was something I will never forget.
Best Accommodation Options in the Area
In Ollantaytambo you will find different accommodation options, but all these places have something in common: you will always be surrounded by mountains and nature. Near the archaeological complex there are lodges, hotels and generally super good lodgings such as Tunupa Lodge Hotel, Hotel Pakaritampu and many more places which you can book.
If you are looking for a unique place to stay, why not check out Skylodge Adventure Suites? This incredible glamping accommodation is only 6km from the city and there are 3 suites to choose from. The most unique thing about these capsule suits is that you will be vertically hanging from the side of a cliff while sleeping. It’s an Instagrammers dream!
Good To Know Before you Go
Ollantaytambo is a place that can have different climates. Because it’s located in a valley at under 3,000 meters, during the months between April and August there is almost always sun. Sometimes that makes travelers think it’s always sunny. However, during different seasons, it can get windy and cold in the afternoons. The cold in drier seasons is more intense.
For this reason, it’s always best to bring a warm coat and warm clothes. Another tip is to organize your time properly to make the most out of your adventure. Although the city itself is small, there are many things to do. Many of them are unconventional, such as visiting Pinkuylluna or simply having a craft beer in the main square and enjoying the moment.
Finally, talk with the locals. They like to feel heard and have a thousand and one stories to share with you. From that can come very rich conversations and an experience that can change your perspective on life. Thanks for reading my Ollantaytambo travel guide. Enjoy this magical destination!