NOTE: This article is part of a series of 12 articles on Peru and the many beautiful aspects of this country. There is a post for each day I spent there, although some may not be relative to that particular day. I intend to post two articles a week for this series, on Thursdays and Mondays.
During the twelve days I spent in Peru, my group travelled to so many places. We started in Lima, moving to Cusco to access the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we found this beautiful little hole-in-the-wall places named Ollantaytambo. Here the population is just under ten thousand and is nested in the Andes Mountains. It is about two hours from Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu by train. Here we stayed for three days, working with the children in a nearby school and preparing for our trip to Machu Picchu. I would love to live here, it is very quiet, settled below the ruins of Pinkuylluna, and full of Peruvian colonial history.
Ollantaytambo was an Incan city up until the conquistadors arrived from Spain. Here, they built colonial style buildings that still exist today with their terra-cotta roofing. Our hotel, the Rumi Wasi gave great views of this and the streets offered history in it of themselves with the numerous aqueducts and cobblestone streets. This architecture has lasted for centuries and remains popular today.
The hotel itself was ok, but not the greatest. The people were exceptional, although I feel that they were too understaffed to manage all the bookings and maintain the rooms, especially as the many Education First tour groups come through here. However, their rooms are clean and are within walking distance to everything. They offer the typical Peruvian breakfast as well.
Additionally, there is a cheap market nearby that is perfect for picking up the typical Peruvian souvenirs. Make sure to barter on price because the vendors will typically lower. Try just starting to walk away, asking for the price cut in half, or group discounts such as buying three of something but at a cheaper price. This worked many times with us.
While the history here is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, make sure to check out the ruins nearby, as well as the huge Incan stone near the main square. It was left there from when the conquistadors came and it gives an up-close idea of how much strength and power it must have taken to build their buildings and cities.
Of course it is also important to check out Pinkuylluna, the main ruins that show up in all the pictures of Ollantaytambo. They overlook the city and require a bit of a hike to get there. Its quite steep and tiring, but the good new is its free! There are numerous wonderful views and all can be accessed from walking around the buildings and up onto the hill.
If you are in Peru, make sure to consider stopping in this beautiful town, as it is worth the time and a nice break from all the hubbub and noise in the bigger cities. It was certainly one of my favorites!