June 22, 2014 – June 25, 2014
The road to Machu Picchu runs through the small town of Ollantaytambo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in Peru. Inca stonework, walls, streets, stairways and waterways are all still visible and still in use just as they have been for hundreds of years. One of the most popular, and probably the easiest route to Machu Picchu is by train, and the tiny village of Ollantaytambo is the last stop before the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, and would be our boarding point. There are many expensive travel packages that will take you through the train station here at Ollantaytambo, but being on a budget we took far cheaper public transportation to the small village on our own. There is actually quite a lot of ruins here, much of it free to see, and much of it overlooked by a public set on seeing Machu Picchu. We had a couple extra days so we decided to stay in this ancient Inca village and take in the ruins here, and the small town life once again.
The Inca craftsmanship is plain to see as soon as you step off the colectivo, and hills surrounding the small village are covered in ancient structures. One of which was a complex that rose up out of the hillside just a stone’s throw from our hostel. We easily spent the rest of the day climbing the hills and exploring the ruins.
High on the top of the hill the Inca’s built a look out post, we decided to make the climb all the way to the top to check out the view.
The largest ruins in Ollantaytambo is the Inca fortress which dominates the hill on the other side of the village. It is the sight of a great battle between the Incas and Spanish, one of the few which the Incas actually won. We did not go inside the ruins as they were plainly visible rising up above the city and quite expensive, and there was plenty of other ruins to see around the city.
You don’t have to go far to see lots of Inca handiwork. The city itself stands as a testament to Inca stonework, and is perhaps more interesting than the surrounding ruins themselves, as everything is still being used. The city looks much the same as it has for hundreds of years with working streets and waterways, all still in use today.
The train to Machu Picchu
There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu, from the more difficult hiking for days down the Inca Trail to the vastly simpler and arguably more comfortable train. After our long hike in Huayhuash we elected to forgo days of walking and instead take the two hour train ride from Ollantaytambo. Locals ride for US $1.25, for tourists they have jacked up the price a little to US $62 per person each way. With train tickets purchased we were off to Machu Picchu! …to be continued.