Thursday, September 03, 2015

Peruvian Journey Part 3: Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a small town nestled in the mouth of the valley that leads to Machu Picchu. Even though it was a brief overnight stop, this was actually one of the highlights of the trip. It was peaceful and quiet, despite being at the cross roads of a wide array of interesting archaeological sights. If I could take the trip again, the main thing I would have changed would be to stay two nights here instead of one.

Hostal Iskay was my accommodation here (pictured below) and was a very pleasant place. Built on two terraces and directly adjacent to the old part of town. Much of Ollantaytambo dates back to the Inca empire. While the title says "hostel", in reality this was a very nice little bed and breakfast. The rooms were comfy and clean, and the breakfast included some very fresh eggs and with an array of local teas.

Of course, by "local tea" I mean coca tea. It is served everywhere in this part of Peru and the leaves are widely available. It is simply part of the culture, as much as coffee is in Seattle. Coffee is after all a completely addictive psychotropic drug... it just happens to be our drug. While I did not have any while I was there, I am told by a trusted friend that there is no euphoria associated with it but that it is actually very good at combating altitude sickness.

The main draw for most tourists is the terraces of Ollantaytambo. This were the site of the final victory of the Incas over the Spanish. The victory was short lived and the Inca forces withdrew to a city deep in the mountains (not Machu Picchu) after it became clear that they would not be able to hold out forever.

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