After lunch, our next destination was Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is an important transportation hub and also where travelers usually catch the train going up to Aguas Calientes. However, the town has archaeological sites that are also wonderful to visit.
Ollantaytambo bears religious and political significance to Incan empire. Temple Hill or the fortress was originally built as a place of worship, but was used as the last defensive front of the Incas against the Spaniards. It was on this site that the Incas successfully defeated the conquistadors.
Pinkullyuna is the hill with Incan granaries overlooking the town and facing the ruins. The high altitude kept the contents of the storage from decaying. Incans would store the harvest from the terraces into these granaries by pouring the grain into the windows of each building.
The famous ruins is 2,800m above sea-level where the original fortified walls remain intact as well as the ruins of a royal chamber, Temple of the Sun and the “Princess’ Baths”.
The Incas made use of terraces as agricultural plots and the valleys of Urubamba are not exception to it. The Incas plant crops on different levels of the terraces wherein crops are planted depending on the varying levels of altitude.
The ruins were astounding. It was pretty crowded in the lower grounds but as you climb up, crowds are noticeably less. I think it would take more than two hours to really enjoy the site as the hike up the terraces takes about 30 minutes and another hour for Pinkullyuna.
It is wise to wear good hiking shoes or runners. My shoes’ soles were cracked up and I was forced to wear sandals. That was not the best idea as it slowed me down because I had to be extra careful. Despite that, the view on top is definitely worth the trouble.
Remember to say hi to the locals you may meet ! They were nice to have a little conversation with me (even with my broken Spanish).