Visiting the Ollantaytambo Ruins, Peru

The second trip in our stay in the Sacred Valley of Peru was to see the remarkable Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo.

Ollantaytambo itself is a great little town, which can be reached by bus from Urubamba or Cusco. Many groups meet up here before setting off on the Inka Trail, and it is also one of the main places for boarding the train to Machu Picchu.  So certain times of the day can be busy.  But once the groups have set off it is very pleasant with shops and cafes.

Ollantaytambo central square, Peru

Central square in Ollantaytambo

We particularly enjoyed Hearts Cafe, which has great healthy food and really good coffee.

Ollantaytambo has been continuously inhabited since Inca times, and has narrow cobbled streets with irrigation channels running down them.  These form a maze, and are fun to explore.

Narrow cobbled street in Ollantaytambo, Peru

Narrow cobbled lane with irrigation channel

Of course the main reason for visiting, other than setting off for Machu Picchu, is to see the hugely impressive Inca fortress and temple.

To visit the Ollantaytambo ruins the best option is to purchase a ticket which covers many of the historical sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley (the Boleto Turistico).  You can buy this in Cusco, or at the entrance to any of the sites, and it is valid for 10 days.  If you do not have time to visit other sites, more limited tickets are also available.

If you prefer to book an organized tour, Viator have a large range of tours in the Sacred Valley.

The ruins look impressive as you approach.  But it is only when you begin to climb the steps through the steep terraces to the fortress that you begin to appreciate the huge scale of the site.

Inca terraces at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Approaching the terraces

Inca site at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Steps through the huge terraces

Terraces at the Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo, Peru

You can see the scale of the terraces

On the terraces and at the fortress there are fine examples of the Incas’ stone wall building skills.  You cannot help but wonder how they managed to get such huge stone blocks to fit together so perfectly.

Inca stone wall at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Beautifully constructed Inca stone wall

Inca stone wall with windows at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Some even have windows

The site is great to wander around, with all sorts of nooks, crannies and features to explore.

Water feature at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Water feature

Doorway in the Ollantaytambo ruins, Peru

One of many doorways

Massive stone blocks at the unfinished Temple of the Sun

There are paths leading off to some rather precariously situated structures.

Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Precarious ruin

Ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Another ruin in an interesting situation

And there are great views.

View from the Ollantaytambo ruins, Peru

View from the ruins

On the opposite hillside there are the ruins of various storehouses which are again spectacularly situated.  There are steep paths up, which we didn’t attempt, but you can clearly see some of the structures from below.

Inca storehouses at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Storehouses on the hillside

Inca storehouse, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Zooming in gives a better idea of the scale

There is also a trail which leads to the quarries where the stone blocks originated – about 6 km away.  It is difficult to imagine the work that went into transporting these huge blocks of stone from the quarry (which is high above the opposite river bank) to the site of the fortress and temple.

If you ever visit Cusco or the Sacred Valley don’t miss Ollantaytambo.  You just cannot fail to be impressed and full of admiration for the people who built and lived at this site.


For more information about travelling to and within Peru please see the Practicalities page.

Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

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