Sacred Valley Pisac Ollantaytambo and Chinchero Full-Day Tour
$39 | Rating 4.22 / 5 [22 ratings]
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Bucket list experience:
Cusco Region, Peru
Of all the Inca sights in Peru, only Machu Picchu is more impressive than this huge fortress. It’s cut into the mountain above the Sacred Valley, with massive cut stones and vast terraces.
Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spanish – instead, it fell through neglect. By contrast, Ollantaytambo was the last stronghold of the Incas near Cusco and the site of a famous victory. In 1536, Manco Inca diverted the course of the River Patacancha to wash away the advancing Spanish and their Amazonian Indian allies.
It was another thirty years before the Incas finally fell and the ruins – with crumbling walls and astonishing views – have an even greater poignancy than Machu Picchu.
Allow an hour or so for an exploration of Ollantaytambo village, and its textiles and souvenir market. It’s as touristy as an airport shop, but there are occasional bargains.
The Parwa restaurant in Lamay village, about 30 minutes’ drive from Ollantaytambo, serves authentic Quechua Andean food and is run by an indigenous co-operative.
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Ollantaytambo is well-served by transport – nowhere in the Sacred Valley is easier to reach. Trains run from Cusco, and you can catch the train to Machu Picchu for Ollantaytambo. Cab rides take around 90 minutes, bus rides 160 minutes. Most tour companies in Cusco offer bus visits. You can also see the ruins on a white-water rafting excursion.
For food & drink before or after, Apu in the heart of the village serves Peruvian staples with wonderful mountain views from the rooftop terrace.
The site is open daily from April to October. During the peak July-August period, consider staying overnight in the village to avoid the busy tour bus crowds which arrive from Cusco after 10am. The light is spectacular in the early morning and late afternoon.
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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first
Ollantaytambo, Cusco Region, Peru[5.4 miles]
Extraordinary glass-walled pods pinned to the side of the canyon offer a condor’s view of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, but getting there is scary.
Aguas Calientes, Cusco Region, Peru[30.2 miles]
Surrounded by rainforest, close to restaurants and the bus stop to the ruins, this is the best Machu Picchu village hotel for a pre-visit, overnight stop.
Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru[41.9 miles]
Good-value, centrally located hotel with modern rooms fitted into the cloisters of the Spanish-colonial market.
Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru[42 miles]
A tranquil, family-run guesthouse sits in up-and-coming, arty San Blas neighbourhood, with views of central Cusco at every street corner.
Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
A land of spectacular deserts, high mountains and rainforests that teem with wildlife, Peru is also home to an array of dramatically situated pre-Colombian ruins, including Machu Picchu.
Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first
Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru[0.2 miles]
One of the world’s most spectacular train rides, the journey between Cusco and Machu Picchu via the Sacred Valley combines dramatic landscapes and absolute luxury.
Best for ages: 18+ | £550 | 3 hours
Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru[13.2 miles]
A once-in-a-lifetime, 4- to 5-day hike through the Andes, retracing ancient trails, combines mountain vistas, cloud forest and subtropical jungle. The finale is incredible – the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, rising from the misty mountains.
Best for ages: 18+ | £377 | 4-5 days
Cusco Region, Peru[20.9 miles]
Dotted with clifftop ruins, cut by a rushing river and coursed by numerous trails, the spectacular Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cusco is Peru’s top light adventure destination.
Best for ages: 13+ | Free
Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..
Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru[14.4 miles]
Looking like bone-white Balinese rice terraces and surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery, these ancient salt pans, cut in Inca times, are still in use today. Accessed from the town of Maras in the Sacred Valley, 40kms from Cusco.
Best for ages: 18+ | £1