After a few weeks of Spanish course in Cusco, some of our students are looking for a nice and quit weekend get-away. If you are looking for some ‘tranquilidad’ and you like to visit a typical Peruvian village at the countryside, away from the daily hassle and partying in Cusco, I recommend the small town of Ollantaytambo. This is a perfect escape from the city of Cusco. From the bus station in Calle Pavitos in Cusco it takes only 1,5 up till 2 hours by bus to get to Ollantaytambo, located at 80 km northwest of Cusco in the Sacred Valley of the Incas; the price of a one way bus ticket is approximately 10 soles. The bus ride will give you an amazing view of the countryside in Cusco, immediately after leaving the city. Passing by the countryside, you will see people with traditional clothes and cattle grazing on the side of the road, close to their small, traditional houses. At the background, the top of the mountains covered with snow. Once arriving in Ollantaytambo, all you’ll see are mountains, the typical inca walls, few people and some kids playing on the streets. You’ll hear the sound of a rippling stream, breath in fresh air and enjoy the warmer weather. As Ollantaytambo is located at 2700 above sea level, it is definitely a bit warmer than Cusco (3400 mtrs above sea level), which is a nice change. You will notice the difference, especially during the nights.
Back in the Inca Times, Ollantaytambo offered a place to stay for travellers during their journey and that is where the name comes from: Tambo means “lodging place” for travellers . There are beautiful Inca Ruins in Ollantaytambo, situated uphill, as it used to be a fortress. Ollantaytambo was one of the important places during the Inca empire because it was the residence of the Inca nobility and an agriculture place. Terraces were built to cultivate food and the inca’s developed an important irrigation system. The inca walls here were built by the empire of the Inca leader Pachacutec and are still intact! People in Ollantaytambo still live their traditional lives, as many generations before. Walking through the village, it looks like time hasn’t passed by here.
Visit the ruins in the morning and enjoy the view over the village. Around lunch time you can enjoy well prepared lunch with fresh fish (trucha) from the nearby Patakancha river at Orishas. From here, take a tour in the Museo del Cacao and try some chocolate with aji (hot pepper). There are nice pizzas at the restaurant Pachamama and during the weekends there is live music at El Ganzo. If you want to stay for the night, there a several cheap hostels; one of them is Hotel Sol that has a nice view over the ruins from your balcony. For the best eggs in town, go to the Hearts Café for breakfast.
There is some tourism in Ollantaytambo, but on a very small scale. It’s only on a Thursday and Sunday afternoon, right after lunch, that the places fills with many tourist: this is when the tourist buses from Cusco arrive doing the Sacred Valley Tour, that includes a visit to Pisac, in Urubamba, a visit to the village of Ollantaytambo and to Chincheros on the way back to Cusco. Most hotels and restaurants in Ollantaytambo are owned by foreign people; most of them travellers and backpackers years ago, who fell in love with this place and decided to stay permanently. That is what this magical town does! It makes you want to stay here, away from the rest of the world. Walking through the narrow alleys it almost feels like a fairy tale.
A week of Spanish studies here with AMAUTA includes: Spanish classes, accommodation at our Campus, all meals, transport from Cusco, two free excursions and daily activities.
Here you can find more information about our Spanish in the Sacred Valley Program.