Ollantaytambo (called by locals Ollanta) is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cuzco in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. This is where the Incas retreated after the Spanish took Cuzco. Much of the town is laid out in the same way as it was in Inca times.
There are combis that travel frequently between the market in Ollantaytambo and the bus station in Urubamba. They are crowded, but at S/.1.50 one way it is by far the cheapest way to travel.
There are also comfortable mini-vans which run between Cusco and Ollanta (via Urubamba) for S/.10 for the 2h trip. They run all day, leaving when full, which might take hours on not a busy part of a day. In Cusco, catch the vans on Calle Pavitos, which is between Belen and Av Grau, 3 blocks west of Av El Sol. Ignore travel agencies that try to charge you US$10 for this service (with hotel pick up). The price is S/.10 and Calle Pavitos is within easy walking distance of Plaza de Armas. You can also get shared private cars for S/.15 per person. Quicker (1h15-1h30), but less comfortable and not as safe; some of the drivers drive excessively fast.
From Pisac : you will have to make a connection in Urubamba. Pisac-Urubamba in taxi cost S/.20, or with buses (they depart when full) for S/.2.5.
There are frequent buses to and from Urubamba (S/.2); further connection can be made to Cuzco there (S/.3). At 15:50, 16:40 and 17:20 there are direct buses leaving from Av Grau 525 in Cuzco (S/.5, c. 3-4h if you need to make a change on the way)
Two types of trains arrive at the station. The first is locals only that is heavily monitored to ensure no tourists ride it. There are hefty fines if caught on the locals' train. The second is the tourist train which runs Cusco/Ollantaytambo/Aguas Calientes. If you are doing the Inca Trail, you will want to get on the train to Aguas Calientes and get off when the train stops mid-route.
There are three types of tourist trains. Ordered by descending price, they are the Hiram Bingham, Vistadome, and Backpacker trains. Go to Peru Rail's website for the current prices and schedule.
If you purchase a ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, you cannot get off at Ollantaytambo for a few hours and then use the same ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. If you want to spend time in Ollantaytambo, it is more cost effective to take a bus to Urubamba from Cusco and then a connecting bus to Ollantaytambo (or a direct minivan).
After trekking to Machu Picchu
Many guide services include a train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or all the way to Cuzco as a part of the guided services. In the former situation, trekkers are expected to pay for their own bus from Ollantaytambo to Cuzco and are informed of this in advance. Taking the bus from Ollantaytambo to Cuzco as opposed to the trains full route saves a half hour to an hour. Inquire with your tour operator in advance as to which tickets they purchase. Tickets purchased by the guide services to Ollantaytambo can be changed at the station the day of or the day before depending upon seat availability. Change fees can range from USD0-20 depending upon the class of train that is being changed to. Arrive at least 45 minutes early as there may be a line, for the earliest trains (05:30) the ticket office opens at 05:00.
Travellers and trekkers can make excellent use of the obligatory return trip to Cuzco by staying the night in Aguas Calientes after visiting Machu Picchu and visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins, the salt mines near Maras/Urubamba, the Incan agricultural lab of Moray, or the ruins above Pisac the next day (all of which are along the route back to Cuzco in that order). Choose two sites and allow a half day for each site for relaxed viewing, transit, and meals. The last buses from Pisac to Cuzco leave around 20:00. Be aware of your belongings on buses after dark. Or, stay in Pisac and backtrack to any of the sites the next day. Inquire at Ulrike's cafe in Pisac for lodging recommendations (open until 21:00).
Walking or cycling is the best idea. Three wheeled moto-taxis and regular taxis are available at the train station but are not necessary. The walk from the train station to the main plaza is approximately a quarter mile (400m). It can be broken up by various restaurants that line the way even after the busiest sections. It is a two minute walk from the main plaza to the ruins.
A boleto turistico is required for access to some of the sights in and around Cuzco. It can be bought at the Oficina Ejecutiva del Comité (OFEC), Av Sol 103, Cuzco, ☎ +51 84 227037.
There are three different kind of tickets:
- A full ticket (valid for ten days and for all sites) for PEN130;
- A student ticket (ISIC sudentcard required as proof) for PEN70;
- A partial ticket (only valid for one day and a limited number of sites)
Tickets give access to the following sites in Cuzco: Santa Cataline Monastery,
Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, Museo Historico Regional, Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Museo de Arte Popular, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Danzas Folklórico
and Monumento Pachacuteq.
They also allow access to other sites around Cuzco: Sacsayhuamán, Qénqo, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Chinchero and the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Tipon and Pikillacta.
- Take a stroll through the town. There are still several houses dating back from Incan time. The small canals running throughout the town serves as the water supply and also dates back to Incan time.
- Ruins of Ollantaytambo - ruins of largely religious significance, they doubled as the the last and largest defensive structures near the plains below where the Incas defeated the Spaniards in battle. Admission with boleto turistico (can be purchased at entrance to ruins). Or you can get a partial boleto turistico for S/.70 (S/.40 for Peruvians) that gives you one day to see this site and 3 others. Local guides can be hired in the market area below the ruins (S/.20). Or, do it yourself by purchasing the book most of the guides use, ¨Cuzco and the sacred valley of the Incas¨(salazar and salazar) which has an extensive section on Ollantaytambo. The book can be purchased in the market below the ruins (S/.50) or in advance in Cuzco (S/.35). Neither the guides nor the guidebook discuss the battles, for information on this research on your own in advance. Tours focus largely on the unique architectural significance of the sun's rays on the cad face of the canyon wall and on the temple walls, the still functioning fountains, and the large stone operating table. Even if you're not an archaeology buff or ruins fan, these are worth seeing. Beautiful views abound.
- Pinkullyuna is the hill with Incan storehouses overlooking the town and facing the main ruins. To get to the path up to these ruins, follow the road closest to the base of the hill (the rightmost one in the town grid when facing Pinkullyuna). You will see a small sign with an arrow pointing to a steep path, which takes you up to a series of ruins and storehouses. Admission is free, and from here you can see some of the most spectacular views of the Ollantaytambo ruins and town and the Urubamba Valley. It's a lovely hike, and can be done in just an hour or two. Some parts of the various path can be a little harrowing, especially the less oft used side paths (all of these also lead to ruins that are less apparent). Go with a friend or at least make sure you let your hosts at the hostel know where you have gone in case something should happen.
Look for houses with red plastic bags hanging outside on posts. These houses are where locals go to drink chicha, a local brew made out of corn. It is a great way to experience the local flavor, provided that you speak enough Spanish to communicate with the other chicha drinkers. It is advisable that you look for a place that serves things other than chicha, as some people find the taste unpleasant. However this is an acquired taste and can be overcome easily. Chicha, unlike masato made in the rainforest is not made by mixing with saliva as erroneously stated in the entry that this is correcting. Careful with the chicha, however - it is sometimes made under unhygienic conditions and it could make you quite sick.
- Visit the Old Town unique in all of Peru, this part of Ollantaytambo was built by the Incas over five hundred years ago is inhabited to date. Entering an Inca cancha or courtyard is like travelling back in time.
- KB Tambo, a hostel, restaurant, mountain bike, and adventure tour office rents mountain bikes by the day and arranges tours. If you're lucky, KB himself will lead the tour; if you get this opportunity you should jump on it, and be advised you're likely in for some serious adventure.
- Chicha Tours http://www.chichatours.com/, the best way to experience Chicha (described above). Led by two quirky expats, they'll take you to the best and safest chicherias in the Sacred Valley while teaching you about the history and production process of this unique beverage. A fun and informative way to experience the local culture first hand.
- Awamaki Weaving Project, Calle Convencion s/n, . Awamaki is a small non-profit organization that works to support Quechua women weavers from remote, rural communities in the Patacancha Valley.Awamaki runs a small-scale sustainable tourism initiative to support this project, conducting tours to the Quechua communities where it works, and coordinating workshops in traditional Andean crafts. Tours to the community of Patacancha offer the chance to experience and learn about Andean indigenous culture, while also contributing to its survival and to the well-being of rural indigenous women and their families. Awamaki also works to promote sustainable tourism with families in town. They can arrange homestays in Ollantaytambo or even in the indigenous communities where they work. For bookings and inquiries please contact email@example.com or stop by the Awamaki fair trade store in Ollantaytambo. edit
- Peru Spiritual Tours. Provides a 12 day journey into the sacred sites of “Ollantaytambo” and surrounding areas. This is a spiritual and physical journey guided by “Vidal Ayala Sinchiz founder of Inti Ayllu Healing Center” and Host Jane Gasior https://www.facebook.com/PeruSpiritualTours edit
There are several shops, mainly Inca souvenir types. A market plaza for tourists sits at the entrance to the ruins, small shops up the hill from the plaza may carry the same items and be more willing to negotiate.
On the way from the ruins to the plaza, look out for the Awamaki Fair Trade Store after the bridge on your right hand side. Emphasis is on fairly-traded weavings from the Patacancha valley made with 100% natural fibers and dyes, as well as a select range of books, alpaca yarn and other locally produced artisan items. The project is non-profit and proceeds from the store are invested into community development projects in the Patacancha Valley.
There are several restaurants in Ollantaytambo:
- El Albergue Restaurant within the El Albergue B&B this new restaurant has a first rate open kitchen where you can see your alpaca and trout dinners being prepared. Menu options include homemade fettuccine, sandwiches and great breakfast. In the evening white table cloths are spread, candles are lit, and the restaurant becomes a first rate dining experience.
- Cafe Mayu is on the Ollantaytambo train station where you can grab a very good espresso or cappuccino as well as chocolate chip cookies and brownies. You can browse their menu for great breakfast and lunch options.
- Kusicoyllor Restaurant Cafe offers novo andine & international cuisine,provide a good an unique view to the ruins, a candle lit atmosphere for the dinner,Kusicoyllor restaurant is most common know to have the best coffee in Cusco.Located just near de Ollantaytambo fortress. Phone 204114
- Hearts Cafe, Avenida Ventiderio (between the main square and the bridge), ☎ 084436730, . With views onto the Inca temple-fortress. Profits go to children's projects in the Sacred Valley. Pleasant pavement dining, quality coffee, fresh and inexpensive food, book exchange, and plenty of magazines. edit
- KB Tambo, a hostel, restaurant, mountain bike, and adventure tour office, has very excellent food by Chef Alejo, a Chilean native who has lived in Ollanta for 15 years. KB Tambo is located just down the hill towards the ruins from the Main Plaza. www.kbperu.com
- Panaka Grill, ☎ 204047. is on the main plaza. Sit upstairs on their balcony and take in the view of the square while you enjoy the wonderful novoandina and international food. Alpaca steak is great here. Finish off with a cappucino and one of their delicious desserts. edit
- Quechua Blues Bar. This place is a very laid back spot, located just across the river in town. Once you cross the river, facing the ruins, look to a street on your left. The upstairs has swings and a very relaxed atmosphere, and the food is very good. Meals run about 15 soles, and lots of cool people are around at night. edit
- Mayupata Restaurant, Next to the bridge (On you way to the ruins), ☎ 204009. Quality Peruvian dishes and superb pizzas made in a firewood oven and served in a warm atmosphere. Also provides drinks at a bar attend by peruvian owner "Tio Raul". Be ready to enjoy an interesting conversation with someone who knows about the place and local culture. edit
- La Esquina, Plaza de armas, ☎ 084204078. Small cafe culture; great atmosphere friendly owner; great coffee that is highly recommend. Only been open for 3 months but its a shoe in for the next lonely planet. Coffees start from 4s cinnamon rolls a highlight edit
- Choco Museo, by the fortress ruins entrance. Adding on to their locations in Cusco and Lima, this location has been open since Sept 2013. The museum is free. Classes to learn how to make chocolate are not free. Chocolate products and food stuffs cost PEN2-15, well worth a stop for a snack. edit
The English Pub: Ollanta's first "pub" opened in early 2010. Landlord Porfirio has years of experience bar-tending and knows what a real bar needs. The only place in town with British ales on tap, comfy sofas and satellite TV. Local non-profit Awamaki hosts regular quiz nights, salsa nights and everything-else nights in between.
Hang out at El Ganso with very down-to-earth owner "Acha".
- Full Moon Lodge, Pilcohuasi. Located near the centre of town, with a nice view of the countryside. Simple, clean rooms with private bathrooms and hot showers. Specializes in mystic tours. USD15-20 per night.
- Hostal Kiswar is right on the main plaza. A nice, clean hostal with private rooms and private bathrooms with hot showers. The owner, Jesús, also owns the adjoining Café (Café Kiswar) and will be happy to talk to you about Ollantaytambo culture, tours, or how good his coffee is. USD17-33 per room.
- Hotel Munay T'ika, just up the road from the railway station, not too far from Pakaritampu. Inexpensive but clean hostal that also provides breakfast of breads, jams, eggs, banana pancakes, coffee and tea in the mornings. c. USD30.
- Rumi Wasi, (close to Hostal El Tambo). PEN25 for a comfortable double room with shared bathrooms. In the old Incan Pueblo. edit
There is also camping to be found in town, probably more suitable for really tight budgets. Ask around and follow signs.
- Hostal Andenes, Calle Ventiderio s/n, (About 5min from the rail station, at the crossroads between the road to the rail station and the main road through Ollantaytambo.), ☎ +51 84 436712, . Newly renovated, clean hostel with a central location. Owned by a very nice Peruvian family. Doesn't look like much from the outside, but has a very beautiful interior. Rooms come with private baths, hot showers, and access to their computer lab. Guests also get a discount at their adjacent restaurant. USD30. edit
- Hostal Chaskawasi Near the main plaza, this hostel is managed by Katy, nice girl, very friendly and helpful. A pleasure to stay there. The place is clean, there are different spaces created for different ambience: bar, TV, room with sofas, maps and a lot of advice about things to do. If you ask Katy, she can lend you Lonely Planet "Central America on a Shoestring" or "South America on a Shoestring". Beds in a 4-bed-dorm from USD20, or private rooms.
- Hostal El Tambo, Calle del Horno in Incan Town. Located in the middle of the old Incan pueblo, with clean rooms and a beautiful garden. Operated by a very friendly Peruvian family. Rates are USD10/person, rooms are private with shared bathrooms.
- Hostal Las Orquideas, Ave Ferrocarril. ☎ +51 84 204032 Small rooms around courtyard with shared bath. Often used by tour groups. Upper floor has view of ruins. Rates vary from USD20-50, but for USD25 a night you can have a private bathroom, and the room has two beds for you to use. Excellent quality, and just down the road from the train station.
- KB Tambo, located at the top of Ave Ferrocarril, the road from the railway station, at the intersection of the main road through town (Calle Ventidero) ☎ +51 84 204091 Recently newly reconstructed with private baths in every room, pleasant courtyard garden and awesome rooftop deck with ruins views. English speaking owner - "KB" (very dynamic and interesting guy) - also rents mountain bikes by the day or will arrange a tour. USD10-28 per person.
- La Casa del Abuelo,From main square, head towards the ruins, cross the bridge, take the first street on the left,Calle Convencion. Phone +51 84 436747, Cell+51 980 291 883 check in=13:00 checkout 10:00 price= USD$28-70 New, clean, quiet hostel with private rooms and hot showers. Centrally located, 8min from the train station, 3min from the main square, 2min from the ruins. Cathy and Henry are the gracious and knowledgeable, English speaking Peruvian hosts. They can arrange guided tours and treks, horse rides and mountain bike tours. Alternatively, they will provide all the required information for DIY hiking and touring. Free breakfast includes coffee (Americano or espresso from an Italian machine) or various teas, fresh juice, eggs, homemade bread, jam and butter. If you're catching an early train to Machu Picchu, they provide a box lunch in place of breakfast. Free Wi-Fi in the rooms and free luggage storage. Reasonably priced laundry service.
- Apu Lodge, Calle Lari, Old Town, ☎ +51 84 797162. Walk up from the plaza for five minutes along a narrow cobblestoned street into the unique Inca grid of back streets and you reach this quiet retreat, a new building within walled gardens with magnificent views of the Inca fortress and red tile roofs of Ollanta. Sunny rooms boast large windows, private bathrooms with hot showers, orthopaedic queen size beds with down comforters and art by talented local artists. Hammocks and benches invite relaxing in the Andean sun. Book exchange, free internet, Wi-Fi, and ample breakfasts. Scottish owner Louise Norton lives in the lodge with her kids and knows everyone in town. She happily answers any question about travel, hikes, and tours. Rates USD35-50 with discounts Oct- Mar.
- El Albergue Ollantaytambo, Ollantaytambo Train Station platform, Fax: +51 84 204014. Built in the 1920's this hotel was reopened in the 70s as a backpacker place and has been renovated recently to include private baths, hot showers, beautiful gardens and friendly staff. The Albergue restaurant is rated one of the best in the Sacred Valley serving delicious trout, and alpaca, as well as homemade fettucine and great breakfast. Cafe Mayu, outside serves some of the best coffee in all of Peru. The proprietor, Wendy Weeks, has been living in Peru for 30 years. Affordable prices, excellent food, English spoken. Don’t forget to take the sauna included in price of room. Knowledgeable staff offers great orientation and arrangements for day hikes, tours and activities. Hammocks in the back a great addition if you choose to just hang out. Rates USD58-74.During peak season (1 May–31 Aug) minimum stay two nights required, discounted Dec-Mar.
- Hostal Sauce, Calle Ventiderio 248, ☎ +51 84 204044, Fax: +51 84 204048, Located at the top of the road to the train station and Calle Ventiderio (the main road through town) and just off the main square, some rooms have views of the Ollantaytambo ruins, breakfast included, no restaurant. USD88-145.
- Tunupa Lodge, Ave Ferrocarril, 200m from train station to Machu Picchu. Located just above Pakaritampu, this hotel has an incredible panoramic view of the surrounding area, which includes the glacier-topped Mt. Veronica, the Incan fortress of Ollantaytambo, the Incan ruins of Pinkuylluna, and the Andes Mountains. The hotel is located on a 5,000m² yard complete with picnic tables and garden terraces for enjoyment of the surroundings. The rooms itself are classy, clean, and include private bathrooms, hot showers, and free internet. Breakfast is included as well with any stay. Rates USD50-70.
- Hotel Pakaritampu, about halfway down Ave Ferrocarril between the main square and the railway station. ☎ +51 84 204020 Recently constructed modern rooms. Beautiful garden. Restaurant and bar. Business Centre. USD127-276.
If you get the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, there will be a bunch of combis waiting for you outside the train station that go to Cusco Plaza de Armas. Some are PEN10 and some are PEN5 more.
There's lots of hiking to be had, villages to visit and chicha to drink, all for a fraction of the price of Machu Pichu excursions.
The ruins of Puma Marca are a beautiful 6km hike out of town. Start on the road to Huilloq and pick up the old Inca Trail in one of the first villages. Ask in the town for details. You can camp at the ruins and they are free to visit. In March 2013 when some travellers camped there a caretaker did appear and ask for a donation in the morning but he was not pushy at all and they are very well cared for so it seems reasonable (he was happy to accept 2s).