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Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Ollantaytambo, Peru: a Hidden Gem

When I think of my many travels throughout South America, I think of a plethora of amazing locations and the unforgettable memories that go with them. I think of the beautiful sceneries, the interesting vibrant cultures, the delicious foods and the many wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I truly take advantage of the opportunity to be able to experience the many wonderful countries and all that they have to offer. With the highlights taking importance, I find that the lesser known destinations sometimes leave a long-lasting impact. This does not happen frequently but when it does, I welcome it as a beautiful surprise. This was what the town of Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley of Peru, was for me. Follow along as we discover the hidden treasures of Ollantaytambo.

There’s more to Peru than just Machu Picchu?

When planning a trip to Peru, it is hard to imagine not going to see the splendor of Machu Picchu. Tucked away in lush green valleys, Machu Picchu is a breathtaking sight to behold. The incredible engineering and intelligent design of the ruins are astounding. It is easy to understand why Machu Picchu is a bucket list item that attracts a large number of visitors every year. 

Peru Tours - Machu Picchu

The most convenient way to get to Machu Picchu is by train. You can catch the train from Cuzco or take it from the Sacred Valley station in the quaint town of Ollantaytambo. Many guests in Ollantaytambo rarely give the amazing town a second thought while passing through. And this, I feel, is a mistake that most will never understand why. 

Read more >> Best Times to Travel to Peru 

Ollantaytambo the Gateway to Machu Picchu

View of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is not a place you will find on any major must-see lists. It is simply a town and an Inca archaeological site about 2 hours northwest of Cusco. During the Incan Empire, Ollantaytambo was home to the Emperor that conquered the area and built the town and ceremonial center. Though small, this town is well worth an extra day of exploration.

Discover Ollantaytambo on the Machu Picchu & Amazon Jungle Tour!

Explore the Incan Ruins

OIlantaytambo ruins - Magic Fountain

Ollantaytambo is surrounded by Incan ruins, with some being completely open to enjoy freely without a ticket. The Ollantaytambo tour takes you into the fortress but it does not allow much time to explore the town nor the ruins on the opposite mountain. The opposite side of the valley from the fortress holds ruins no less impressive and without an entrance fee or large crowd. It is a great photo opportunity and a cool little hike.  There are plenty of ruins to see in the hills, many look like they could have been used for housing but were in fact designed to store food.  As you stroll through town, pay attention to the incredible aqueduct work.  Visit the Magic Fountain, where it is said if you swipe your finger across the fountain it will stop the flow of water. 

Enjoy a Free Day in Ollantaytambo

OIlantaytambo ruins - food storage

Enjoy a full free day and overnight stay Ollantaytambo, as there is more to see than just the ruins.  There is a nice artisan market in the plaza in front of the fortress that has beautiful souvenirs.  The area is also quite beautiful and perfect to take a little hike close to town.  Take time to stroll along the cobblestone streets, explore the open ruins, walk along the river, experience the local life and soak in the incredible energy of the area.  Spend some time there apart from the bustling crowd headed to Machu Picchu.  Wander, explore, and let your plans fall by the wayside for a day. It will be a decision that you will be happy you made.

Want to find out more? Check out our new and improved Peru Travel Guide, with information on restaurants, sightseeing, accommodation, safety and more.

Ready to book a trip to Peru? Interested in exploring the mysterious Machu Picchu or charming town of Ollantaytambo? Our Expert Travel Consultants are happy to help you customize your dream vacation to South America’s iconic Peru. 

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