Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley, Peru, is the jumping off point for those who trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and those, like us, who catch the train.
Many tourists pass through Ollantaytambo without stopping. I’m glad we opted to stay on for two extra nights —it’s very beautiful.
It was here that Manco Inca staged some of his most dramatic resistance to the conquistadors, famously flooding the valley to stop their advance. And it’s from here that he fled into the jungle to Vilcacamba. (You can read more about this is in the book The Last Days of the Incas.)
Inca ruins dot the surrounding hill tops. The Fortress is the largest and towers above the village. All day lines of tourists snake around the terraces, only emptying out at dusk.
At the end of the day, locals wandered past our guest house towards home.
Around the corner, vendors were still hopeful of a sale, although it was getting late.
This young Mum took her chance for a rest on the doorstep and still managed a smile.
As with any self-respecting tourist town, there are endless opportunities for a little souvenir shopping.
This burro did not want to get off the tray of the truck —he refused to budge. His owners were still there attempting to beguile him out when we passed by again twenty minutes later. I tried my best not to laugh … and wondered if he might be descended from that “first and foremost of all the hacks in the world”—Don Quixote”s Rocinante. (You may laugh at my foolery, but the burros here are descended from the burros of Spain, first brought to South America by the conquistadors.)
As the day came to an end, we stood at the edge of the town, looking up the valley, towards Cusco, and plotted our next day’s adventures.
It was, we agreed, time to get off the beaten track for a while.