Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Peru, Day 3: Ollantaytambo and Písac

Our travel agency was smart to take us out of Cusco and into the Sacred Valley, which is actually lower in altitude and easier for acclimatization.  We spent two nights in the Sacred Valley, with one day spent touring the area to see some of the surrounding archaeological sites.  Our first stop was a morning spend at Ollantaytambo, called a "living Inca city" as it has been continuously inhabited since the 13th century.  It is positioned on a hill, navigated by very narrow, cobblestone streets, and is an example of Inca city planning.  It is a popular tourist spot, not only for the Incan ruins, but as a starting point to journey to Machu Picchu via either the Inca Trail or by train.

Terraces at Ollantaytambo

View from the terraces of Ollantaytambo

At the top of the terraces is the Temple of the Sun, honoring one of the most important deities of the Incan religion.  It's an uncompleted structure, with a wall of six monoliths. The city was also the site of one of the few Incan victories against Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, though they later withdrew those forces.

Six Monoliths

I do realize my hat is dorky-looking... but it was a high SPF and waterproof and bought on clearance before the trip, so oh well.  You'll be seeing it a lot!

After Ollantaytambo, we headed to another Sacred Valley town, Písac.  In the hills above town are old Incan terraces and buildings, which once served military, religious, and agricultural purposes.  Some researchers believe Písac was the southern "gate" of the valley and possibly served as a strategic location for the whole area, with Ollantaytambo to the north.

We did not walk up into the structures at Písac, after climbing Ollantaytambo earlier and not having had lunch yet.  We decided instead to head into the town to shop at the large souvenir market, as well as head to lunch at Tres Keros restaurant.  From there, we relaxed in our beautiful hotel (the grounds were gorgeous, as I will share in a later post) and repacked our belongings for the trip ahead to Machu Picchu.

Overall, I was happy we got to see these examples of Incan architecture before heading to Machu Picchu.  Seeing it in reverse order might have been a little ho-hum, you know?  We were blessed with wonderful weather, and the Sacred Valley allowed us to get used to the altitude in the country.


  1. You know, you see it in text books and on documentary programs, but these photos are gorgeous! Can't wait for day four and seeing your Machu Picchu photos!

  2. It's kind of like seeing the Grand Canyon or Disney World for the first time in real life. You're like, "Is this real life?" and it IS! Peru is definitely way better than in the books.


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