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One of the best destinations that can be visited before doing the 4 or 2-day Inca Trail is Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo keeps a lot of Inca history and is part of the places with the most history in Cusco and everyone should know it. To begin with, it was consolidated as one of the main dairy farms. Due to its location, it was ideal for entering the still complicated and rugged high jungle of Cusco. Today, as in the past, it is necessary to arrive to continue the trip to Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo, unfortunately, was destroyed and now only some ruins remain that maintain the great architectural capacity of the Tawantinsuyo urban planners. Let’s learn more about this place that can be the perfect prelude to starting the Inca Trail.

Ollantaytambo on the Inca Trail route

It is important to keep in mind that the Inca Trail of the past was not only the section where this hiking route was carried out. Currently, only 39 kilometers are followed for 4 days to reach Machu Picchu. However, the Inca Trail in total covered an area of more than 50,000 kilometers. This road extended throughout almost the entire mountain range and coast of current Peruvian territory. It also expanded to territories in the north of Argentina and Chile. In the north, it also had an extension through Ecuador and Colombia.

So talking about the Inca Trail and Ollantaytambo means talking about part of the history of Peru. In the sense that we will explore the route that connected Cusco with this resting place. In addition, it served and provided food and days of stay so that walkers or itinerant merchants, from ancient Peru, could spend the night indoors. The Inca Trail had the main function of unifying all the domains of the Incas. That is why, given the rugged geography that forms the Andes Mountains, precautions had to be taken against any change. One way to transport food and other goods was the creation of dairy farms. So, before continuing with greater zeal, the expansionist campaigns sought to have a place that could supply the next battles.

In this sense, Ollantaytambo fulfilled that role and was one of the main steps so that the soldiers and the Inca himself could begin the expansionist campaigns. In this way, surely, they reached territories such as Machu Picchu, Sayacmarca, Chachabamba, Humanmarca, and other sites that would effectively fulfill the same role as Ollantaytambo. The Inca Trail served to strengthen the army and at the same time so that greater control could be exercised in political matters. For example, in the case of revolts or uprisings against the Inca. He could easily send an army to put an end to the hostility.

Currently, the Ollantaytambo district belongs to the province of Urubamba. Likewise, it seems that it fulfills the same function as many years ago. In the sense that it is mandatory to arrive at Ollantaytambo and then use the train and begin the trip to Machu Picchu. Likewise, the corresponding stops to start the Inca Trail require a prior train trip. That is why we are encouraged to make this short blog, as a guide so that visitors and hiking lovers have other alternatives before starting this beautiful route.

History of Ollantaytambo

Puerta inca en Ollantaytambo
Así comienza el recorrido por el sector sagrado de Ollantaytambo

Before talking more about this destination, we would like to show a few details of the history of Ollantaytambo, which, as we mentioned above, is a place where truly special and vitally important historical details were made. These events marked a before and after in the history of Tawantinsuyo.

  • It all began when the Incas began to control the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Which was in the hands of the ethnic groups known as the Ayarmacas.
  • After Pachacutec’s victory against the Chancas, control of the Sacred Valley by the Incas was immediate.
  • The Inca period began with the reforms and construction of temples, arranged by the Inca Pachacutec.
  • It was essential to consolidate the expansion through rugged terrain such as the high jungle.
  • Likewise, it was one of the most important dairy farms created by the Tawantinsuyo, which also had its farmland.
  • It probably went from being a small dairy farm to having different temples and a large population dedicated to building and agriculture.
  • After the arrival of the Spanish and the death of Huáscar and Atahualpa. Manco Inca became the ruler.
  • Later, due to the abuses he suffered from the Spanish, Manco Inca Yupanqui gathered an army in Ollantaytambo.
  • Manco Inca, carried out attacks from this place to Cusco and Lima.
  • Unfortunately, little by little his strength faded and he ended up abandoning Ollantaytambo.
  • Since then Ollantaytambo was taken by Spaniards and ethnic groups who joined them.
  • Most of the temples were destroyed and later abandoned. However, the Inca homes continued to be inhabited.
  • That is why you can still see the urban planning provisions of the Incas both on the walls, the water channels, and the narrow streets.
  • Currently, some houses or homes still have the same structure as in the past.
  • Since the train station was created, several tourists have come to this place.
  • In Ollantaytambo you can find a large number of hotels, restaurants, and a great history.
One of the fountains of Ollantaytambo

What places can you visit in Ollantaytambo?

Ollantaytambo was an important place in the past. Today it remains a vital point for anyone who wants to reach Machu Picchu. In this sense, it is a destination that all visitors to Cusco and Machu Picchu should visit. Ollantaytambo has many temples and also platforms and other buildings that give details of one of the Inca citadels with the largest population in all of Tawantinsuyo.

Today, tourists can visit the main temples that are located on a mountain. Likewise, to get to this place you have to ascend stairs. These stairs served to form the water channels that connected with all the platforms or retaining walls. On these platforms, it is presumed that medicinal plants, coca leaves, and corn were planted. Corn was for a long time the most produced food and vital for military expansions. Once you reach the top, where the temples are located, the view of the valley is really beautiful.

Apart from seeing the platforms, it is possible to find the most important and representative temples that can normally be seen in all the Inca citadels. Among these, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of Water will stand out. In the Temple of the Sun, you can find part of one of the walls. The striking thing about this place is that it is made up of 6 large stones. Surely they were stones that resisted the attack and the attempt to destroy and eliminate idolatries. As for the Water Temple, the enclosure can be found a little damaged, but it still allows the water to continue flowing. The enclosure is large and was complemented by the entire part of the current population.

Other Spanish techniques were built on the homes of yesteryear and they were used to construct the homes. However, urban planning is maintained and therefore it is possible to find narrow streets with canals with abundant water. Although it may not seem like a big deal most of these water channels have been functioning since the Inca construction began. Likewise, it is possible to see other constructions that will surprise more than one.

One form of Inca food preservation was the ability to construct buildings that had adequate ventilation. In addition, they were capable of maintaining an adequate temperature. Where the collected food could be stored without problems for long periods. One of these constructions can be seen on the far right of the temple sector; Just by entering the place, you can feel a slight temperature change. Similar constructions can be found in front of the Inca constructions. That is, in the middle of one of the mountains parallel to Ollantaytambo.

Finally, in Ollantaytambo, you can shop for something you forgot to buy or drinks before starting the walk or visit Machu Picchu. You can also spend the night, of course, after having visited the entire archaeological site. We are sure that more than one person will like Ollantaytambo, it will be important because it will help you identify the details and characteristics of the Inca constructions. In this way, when you take the tours along the Inca Trail and visit the archaeological sites as such, you will be able to differentiate between temples and common constructions.

Recommendations for visiting Ollantaytambo and doing the Inca Trail

The first recommendation we can offer is that anyone who wants to make the trip to visit Ollantaytambo, organize their trip well. That is, plan the itinerary of your activities. For example, you should take into account that Ollantaytambo is 2 hours away from Cusco. One of the easiest ways to get there is through the transportation services that can be found on Pavitos Street, very close to the Historic Center of Cusco.

If you want to take a private trip or only with your family, you can choose to rent private transportation or hire private transportation. In the first of these options, you can be the driver of the car, while in the second you will have a more comfortable trip in a vehicle completely just for you. The driver will be in charge of guiding you to Ollantaytambo. Remember that the decision in the end is yours, we only give you some advice, but yes, we recommend that you visit Ollantaytambo before doing the Inca Trail, whether it is 2 or 4 days. The tour of Ollantaytambo can also be accompanied by touring the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas, which will not only allow you to learn more about the history of Tawantinsuyo, but also have adequate acclimatization before such an arduous hike and adventure.


By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 14-12-2023

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