You’ll love Ollantaytambo photography! The town is picturesque and has two amazing Incan ruins walking distance from the central plaza: building on a hillside and granaries on a mountainside. The hillside ruins have a fascinating water system, including large baths (you can’t swim in them). And, llamas roam the grounds. The town is walkable, with cobblestones. Wear walking/hiking shoes.
Visit Ollantaytambo as part of your Machu Picchu itinerary. Read about the first 2 days of the itinerary – at Machu Picchu.
Aguas Calientes lies 2 hours away by train. The train tracks from Aguas Calientes end here, so don’t worry if you fall asleep on the train.
Cusco is 2 hours away by bus or tourist transport.
Things to Know
Ollantaytambo photography is easy. The town is tourist-friendly and walkable. There are plenty of tourist agencies, with a variety of treks and other travel experiences for sale. This is a starting point for mountain trekking. Food and hotels are available in all price ranges. Every kind of food is available, from local meals to pizza.
Be aware that tourist buses arrive every hour from Cusco, from which group of people disembark and take a short tour through the hillside ruins. Therefore, I recommend visiting those ruins at lunch time or late in the day.
Buy a Peru guidebook – Great for understanding the area. I used the Rough Guide for my trip.
Buy a Peru map – This helps me understand where in the country I am, and is a great planning tool. A much bigger picture than any computer screen!
5 Tips on Selecting a Budget Hotel – 15 years of experience staying in budget hotels consolidated into 5 easy tips.
Arrive from Cusco or Aguas Calientes. I suggest staying 1-2 nights in Ollantaytambo, although some people love it enough to stay a week.
Whether you’re coming from Aguas Calientes or Cusco, photograph town during the low morning light. Hotel checkout is generally around 11am, so take time, relax, and peruse your photos from yesterday. You can often leave extra luggage at your hotel at no cost. Then, make your way to Ollantaytambo.
At Your Leisure
If coming from Aguas Calientes, take the train to Ollantaytambo, approximately 2 hours. The cost of train tickets vary by time, with peak times being the most expensive.
Some people very much enjoy Ollantaytambo and stay a few nights. So, take your time walking around town upon arrival.
Back up your photos and recharge your camera batteries and other devices. Enjoy a relaxed dinner. Spend the night in Ollantaytambo.
The town of Ollantaytambo is much smaller and quieter than Cusco. Tourism is a major part of the economy, so there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, tour agencies and souvenir shops.
Upon arrival a guy approached me asking if I wanted a hotel. I did not, but asked for a good restaurant and was led to a sweet little family-run place a block from the Plaza de Armas. I ate a filling Peruvian lunch for $3 USD. The family kindly stored my bags while I visited the ruins. I gave the daughter an energy bar I’d brought from home, since they didn’t ask for any kind of payment and they were friendly.
Ollantaytambo Photography – 2 Incan Ruins
For both locations, take water and sunscreen. It was sunny and extremely windy the day I visited, so I drank a lot of water. Nice toilets are just inside the entrance of the Hillside Ruins.
Ollantaytambo Ruins are extensive (face east, on west side of hillside). Entry to the main ruins, including a water canal and bathing area, is included in the $40 USD + 16-location + 10-day tourist ticket (purchase at any of the included sites). You will receive a map of the area with various routes, and should note that the walking is steep in some areas.
Gauge how tired you are and visit either on day 3 or day 4 of your itinerary. The ruins are a 5 minute stroll from the Plaza de Armas. Tour groups come through regularly, so arrive early in the morning before the day-trip tours arrive from Cusco. Also, you can hang around near a tour and hear some of the fascinating history of this place.
Directly across town from the ruins is a steep mountainside with the Incan grain storage area called Depositos de Pinkuylluna (faces west, on east side of mountain). This hike can be done on the same day or a different day as the Hillside Ruins.
Day 4 – Depart Ollantaytambo
Morning Roam around Ollantaytambo and photograph town during the low morning light. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the ruins, or granaries if not already done. This is likely the best time to visit the granaries, since the sun will be behind you providing beautiful light onto town and the ruins.
Note: I met people who enjoyed Ollantaytambo and stayed for a few nights. I would have stayed at least one night if I had more time.
I loved my day of Ollantaytambo photography! I wish I had more time and could have stayed longer, which is why I recommend 1-2 nights for you. The place is calm and I felt perfectly safe as a solo female traveler. Everyone I met was very helpful.
Have you got questions?
Will you include Ollantaytambo photography in your itinerary? Let me know in the Comments area below. I read them and will reply to your questions as soon as possible!
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