March 26-28, 2017

Ollantaytambo is another small ancient town. It's surrounded by hills terraced well over a 1000 years ago to prevent land slides. Most interesting though is that most streets have a water channel on the side, which delivers water throughout the town. This basic system has been in place for hundreds of years, and was also on display at the local ruins, where we took another guided tour.

The site here was primarily religious, which means fancier stonework. Some of the work here was more advanced than at Machu Picchu, where most rocks were made roughly rectangular before use. Here the original shape of the rock was preserved more, which gives the walls a very distinctive look.

Also at this site they had started using a new technique where you make a small channel in adjoining stones, and then melt bronze into it to hold them together. All the stones here came from a quarry 7 kilometers away, on a hill on the other side of the river.

Finally, we were shown the princess's fountain, which emits water collected from a glacier some 40 kilometers away. This system does require upkeep, but has been in place for 500 years. There's another set of ruins on the other side of town, but we decided to take the afternoon off.

The next day we took a collectivo to Pisac, which is a quiet little town with all the amenities a tourist might want, centered around a semi-permanent souvenir market on the main square. Ulrike's, just off that square, serves a smoked-trout bagel that's so good that I ate it for consecutive meals. If you're into that kind of thing, spiritual experiences (mostly involving ayahuasca) are advertised throughout.

But we just visited the local Inca ruins, which were a place where regular people lived. As such, there's an interesting combination of building styles. People lived here long before the Incas and most buildings were built then. But the Incas did maintainance and made some improvements using their own techniques, which makes for an interesting mixture to see.

We were getting kind of over 2-hour tours, so we got a shorter one, and then walked back to Pisac by ourselves. It was wonderful to be out in nature by ourselves for a short while. Back in Pisac, we collected our stuff and took the next collectivo to Cusco, which we hadn't taken the time to see anything in the last time.

Sacred Valley pictures