Chile - Peru 2009

Ollantaytambo to Cusco, Peru

13 November 2009

General Information

Local Map

Photographs and Commentary
Click on picture to enlarge

David, our guide from Cusco and Max, our driver, met us in the hotel for a tour of the Sacred Valley, which ends with our arrival back in Cusco. The first part of our tour is the Fortress of Ollantaytambo. This time we got to ride up the hill into town and to the lower part of the fortress. That was the end of the easy time as it is quite a hike up the stairs to the upper reaches of the ruins. The fortress was a defensive position that also served other purposes. There was housing in the upper part of the fortress for the Inca nobility, a Temple of the Sun and ritual baths in the lower part. The construction of the fortress is similar to others we have seen on the trip. The material for this came from a quarry on the other side of the valley from the fortress. Remains of ramps that were used to bring the blocks up to the construction site are still visible. On the way out of Ollantaytambo en route to our next stop, Urubamba, we stopped at a bridge that demonstrated the engineering capability of the Incas. The original Inca bridge foundations are used to support the bridge today. Next to the Inca foundation is a modern foundation that was abandoned as it was not as good as the original (see picture below).

After lunch in Urubamba, we headed for Pisac, a market town and site of an Inca cemetery and ruins. Most of us stayed in the market area and browsed for bargains. Everybody in Pisac must be trained as a sales person. We were confronted by children selling postcards, finger puppets and other trinkets. One of our more interesting encounters was with a young girl selling finger puppets. Susie wanted five little monkey finger puppets to give to our grandson since Five Little Monkeys is one of his favorite stories. The young girl, in good English proceeded to tell us the story of the Five Little Monkeys. Susie wound up buying three sets of five monkeys.

Leaving Pisac we stopped in a weavers cooperative on the road to Cusco. This was an interesting stop because you could see the process of creating the woven products from the llamas and alpacas that provide the wool, through the spinning, dying and weaving of the yarn. Of course, this being a cooperative, it also had a store where the products are available for sale. Susie didn't see anything that she particularly liked and I thought I was off the hook... wrong again... she found it in another cooperative in Cusco the next day.

As I said earlier, David is a guide who does not look at his watch. We wound up spending more time in Ollantaytambo and less in Pisac and Urubamba. We wound up on the road with David and Max for over eight hours... another very full day.

It is a long way to the top of the Ollantaytambo Fortress

The lower level of the fortress complex with the present town and ruins in the background

Present day Ollantaytambo below the fortress ruins

Present day Ollantaytambo below the fortress ruins

Storage facilty ruins across the valley from the fortress

Storage facility ruins across the valley from the fortress

Rich farmlands in the valley below the fortress

Upper walls of the fortress

close up of walls

Another example of the Incas expertise in stone cutting using stone and bronze tools

The fertile valley in which Ollantaytambo is located

More detail of the block walls. The protrusions on the blocks were used to suspend them for finishing and placement

David explaining the reasons for the extra material left on the blocks

This wall shows another example of Inca ingenuity. The thin blocks placed between the larger walls were placed there so that they would be crushed by the vibrations caused by an earthquake. This would keep the large blocks from damaging each other. After a quake, the smaller stones would be replaced. It is believed that the protrusions on these blocks are the remnants of figures carved on them.

Ruins of storage buildings on the other side of the valley (300mm lens used for this shot)

The market at Ollantaytambo

The market at Ollantaytambo. The building at the corner houses the restaurant in which we ate on the previous night

The residential area in the fortress rises above the area where we are standing

Fortress terraces

Fortress terraces

A picture taken by Leo 45 years ago is compared to the same spot today... very little change is noted

Fountains at Ollantaytambo fortress

Fountains at Ollantaytambo fortress

Water channels leading to the fountains at left

Carved fountain

This carved fountain is different from others we had seen suggesting this was an important site

Baños de la Ñusta (ceremonial Princess baths) in the process of being restored

Bridge on Inca foundation

The Inca foundation supports a modern bridge. The modern foundation, on the left did not hold up so the bridge was rebuilt on the original foundation.

Pisac Market

One of many aisles in the Pisac Market

Kids playing with live fish in the Pisac Market

These kids were playing with live fish in a puddle in the Pisac Market. The fish didn't fare too well.

Pisac Market scene. It is a little off season so the market is quiet.

The Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley with the Urubamba River at right


Vicuña at the weavers cooperative




Aloof llama

Susie feeding the animals

Susie feeding llamas.

Cousin Judy taking spinning lesson

Colorful yarns

All of these shades are dyed with natural materials

Weavers at work

Weavers at work

As seen on the Road

The competition in Ollantaytambo... look out Starbucks

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