Introduction to Ollantaytambo

The town of Ollantaytambo is considered a living Inca town; it preserves the Inca structures of the houses, and the Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo. This town has developed practices that conserve the biodiversity of flora species. In the same way, it has natural landscapes such as the Nevado called “La Verónica”, the highest mountain in this sector of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Their heritage is represented by the textile tradition of the communities of Huilloq, Patacancha, Qelqanqa, Rumira-Sondormayo, Ollantaytambo and Yanamayo. This is a tradition that is maintained, thanks to generational transmission, making use of natural resources, traditional designs and distinctive colors of each community of Ollantaytambo. Each elaborate textile piece shows the Andean worldview. Additionally, this locality performs the ancestral staging of the Ollantay Raymi.

The inhabitants of Ollantaytambo are considered descendants of the Incas, which is why they are currently considered living Inca people, recognized by the Andean Parliament.

The majority of the population of Ollantaytambo develops its activities around tourism, considering the textile craft production. Part of the population develops agriculture and livestock activities while part of the population develops the Porter activity on the Inca trail trek.

The Inca town of Ollantaytambo maintains its original urban layout and the Inca dwellings still retain their typology, characterized by being one-and-a-half-story buildings with finely carved stone elements. The Inca court is the main organizing element of the Inca neighborhoods of Araccama and Qosqo Ayllu. Later, some constructions were built in the colonial, republican and contemporary times, giving rise to the current town of Ollantaytambo, which is characterized by the continuous occupation of its urban structure. The new constructions in the towns of Rumira, Chilca, Willoq and Piscacucho, have promoted a new spatial system of the territory, invigorated by tourism.

Ollantaytambo has approximately 437 artisans organized into 12 organizations, of which 50% are located in the town center and the other half are located in the Huilloc Patacancha basin. Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing are the main industries however, 12.7% of the population works in accommodation and food service activities.

The town of Ollantaytambo has a natural and cultural scenery, where visitors can observe the construction methodology used by the Inca culture, as well as natural resources such as waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, rock quarries, planting areas, and archaeological evidence that is still used by the villagers today. Visitors will also be able to visit community-based localities, where they can develop activities and enjoy the local culture.


Cultural information

The town of Ollantaytambo is classified as a Living Culture. It is a Living Inca City because its inhabitants live according to uses and customs inherited from their ancestors. Houses are built on original Inca foundations. Around the town of Ollantaytambo, there are native communities such as Willoc, where only the Quechua language is spoken and whose red and black clothes are similar to the Huayruro, a red and black seed brought from the jungle, used as an amulet for luck and to ward off evil spirits.

The local population shows its friendliness and hospitality towards all visitors, characterized by rural and participatory development. In turn, the population considers agricultural, tourist (natural and cultural) productive diversity as elements that generate development and improvement in the quality of life and conservation of cultural identity.

Ollantaytambo celebrates interesting festivities such as: Cruzvelacuy (the evening of the crosses) and Pentecost, among others. The most awaited festivity is the feast of the Lord of Choquekillka, in which everyone can participate in the different typical dances, the same as the ones going to the chapel of the main square. This party shows the union between Catholicism with the Andean ancestral cults.

The local people of Ollantaytambo use typical clothing woven with wool from the regional auquenids and sheep; these garments are made using natural pigments and designed according to the community that makes them.


Top tips for your stay in Ollantaytambo village

Guests can experience a unique activity to do in Ollantaytambo; Trekking to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). The trail first passes through the quarries where the Incas extracted the stones to build the fortress of Ollantaytambo. To get to Inti Punku it is a 2 hour hike, uphill. The "door of the sun" was a strategic point of astronomical observation and a control site towards the roads to Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle. Once at the top you will have a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and the valley.

The archaeological site of Ñaupa Iglesia is an archaeological site showing Inca terraces, stairs, doors carved in the walls, "chakanas" or Andean crosses of the Inca cosmology, seats carved in stone and niches. Visitors are advised to do this trip with a local tour guide so you can really get the best out of your tour.

If you prefer a short, more leisurely activity, you can visit the Pinkulluna or Tunupa hill, located only 20 to 30 minutes away. It offers a magnificent view of the town of Ollantaytambo; stroll through the streets and visit the church, the handicraft market and the Catcco Museum (Andean Center of Traditional Technology and Culture of the Ollantaytambo Communities)  to see the wonderful history and crafts of the region.


Transport to Ollantaytambo village

Visitors can reach the town of Ollantaytambo via the main paved road Cusco-Pisac-Calca-Urubamba-Ollantaytambo; with an approximate distance of 85 km and an approximate travel time by truck of 1 hour 30 minutes. It can also be accessed through the main paved road Cusco-Chinchero-Urubamba; with an approximate route of 80 km and a travel time of 1 hour 15 minutes.

Getting around the area

The town of Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu, the main tourist resort of Cusco and Peru. Visitors who come to the town of Ollantaytambo can experience various tourist activities such as: a visit to the Archaeological Site of Ollantaytambo and Pinculluna; spend a night at the Willoq community tourism venture, and take walks to the Cachicata quarry, Inti Punku, and Perolniyoc Waterfall.


What’s good to eat in Ollantaytambo Village?

In the town of Ollantaytambo you can find all kinds of food, from national creole food to foreign food; however, Ollantaytambo has a great variety of dishes and gastronomic specialties that are offered in local restaurants ("picanterías"). Mostly the preparation of these dishes are of natural and organic origin and include corn with cheese, a snack made from guinea pig meat and baked noodles. Accompaniments such as the famous vegetarian dish "kapchi", beans, stuffed red pepper, corn tortillas, and rice are common and will differ, depending on who prepares it. A couple of the most authentic dishes, typically served in the village are Cuy al Palo (guinea pig with cheese) or baked suckling pig. The local drink is the frutillada which made from a mixture of strawberry pulp and chicha de jora, sweetened and boiled with aromatic and digestive herbs (lemon balm). It is served in a "caporal" (large glass) garnished with roasted coriander and strawberries.

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    Best things to do in Ollantaytambo village

    The best months to visit the town of Ollantaytambo are from March to November to coincide with the periods of heat and drought most favorable for the visitor to observe all the tourist resources of the town. During the period from March to November, you can hike to different tourist attractions in the area, such as the Perolniyoc Waterfall, Cachicata Quarries, Intipunku, and Pinkulluna. These hikes usually do not require previous preparation for visitors, so it is suitable for tourists of all ages. During the visit to these short routes the visitor will be able to observe the union between the natural and cultural environment.

    In Spring (September 21 to December 21), the town of Ollantaytambo has a pleasant temperature that varies between 16°C and 18°C, during this period there is no rainfall, and drought can be observed in the surrounding mountains; however, during the month of November, you can observe the corn fields, which are developed using traditional methods. During the month of November, the beginning of occasional rainfall can be observed.