Peru Tour: Machu Picchu’s Surrounding Sites
Forty miles northwest of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and a city on most Peru travel itineraries, you’ll find another town worth visiting: Ollantaytambo. One of the exciting aspects ...
Forty miles northwest of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and a city on most Peru travel itineraries, you’ll find another town worth visiting: Ollantaytambo. One of the exciting aspects of Ollanataytambo, is its layout, which, constructed by the Inca’s, is one of the few surviving towns that has retained its original Inca design. There are four parallel streets intersected by seven cross-streets. At the center of the grid, you’ll find a large plaza. And from the plaza you can see huge terraces cut into the hillside beside the town.
Ollantaytambo, is a quaint town with cobblestone streets and typical Spanish roof tiling that adds to its charm. It is often called a ‘living Inca city’ because of its uniqueness of having added modern amenities to its ancient structure as opposed to replacing it.
Getting to Ollantaytambo from Cusco or Aguas Calientes, below Machu Picchu, is fairly easy, though depending upon how you would like to go, depends upon how easy it is. Taking a bus will take the longest and you may have change in Urubamba, though it will definitely be your cheapest option. If you take a smaller mini-bus you can probably get one direct from Cusco’s Terminal Santiago and generally there will be buses going all morning. When the driver has sold all his seats determines when he will leave. So if you don’t want to wait around it is probably best to go in the morning.
If you would like to take a train, the journey is fairly simple as all trains between Cusco and Machu Picchu stop at Ollantaytambo. To avoid all the complications and hastles of organizing, we recommend signing up on a tour. A well-organized simple tour that visits all the sites of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu as well as Cusco, will simplify the planning tremendously. Here is a good example of a tour that will visit the highlights of the reason and of course a lot of things are flexible and can be catered to your needs.
You’ll have a transfer from the Cusco airport to your comfortable hotel. There will be a half-day city tour of Cusco that day. The second day you will visit the Sacred Valley of the Inca on a full day tour, including the beautiful and culturally exciting town of Ollantaytambo. On the third day you will take the train either from Cusco or from Ollantaytambo (depending on where you chose to stay) to Aguas Calientes, below Machu Picchu. Here again, you can decide whether you would like to spend a night in Aguas Calientes or at the Sanctuary Lodge in Machu Picchu. You can see Machu Picchu and then take an afternoon train back to Cusco or Ollantaytambo or you can spend the night and perhaps another day at the ancient citadel. It’s all up to you.
With easy comfortable transfers taking you to and from airports and train stations you’ll avoid hassles of taxi drivers who don’t know where they are going and who are probably overcharging you. At sites you’ll avoid waiting in lines for tickets, because you will already have them in your hand. One thing is sure, when booking your tour, request an extra day in the Sacred Valley, perhaps at a comfortable Ollantaytambo hotel. There is plenty to offer there and you wouldn’t want to fly through and miss it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This guide to Machu Picchu during Peru vacations was written by a Peru travel expert at Peru For Less, specialists in high value, fully customizable tours and packages.