Virtual Tour of Ollantaytambo, Peru
So for those of us not in Peru, over the next two weeks we'll go on a virtual tour of the Sacred Valley. When you fly in to Cuzco, it's at 12,000 ft above sea level, so if you want to acclimatize to altitude in a more pleasant way, stay a couple of nights in the Sacred Valley which is about 8,000 ft.
The town of Ollantaytambo is the best surviving example of Inca town planning, with narrow cobblestone streets that have been continuously inhabited since the 1300s. You go through Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Machu Picchu, but this town is worthwhile staying in for a few days. The town is divided up into blocks or canchas, and you can catch glimpses through the ancient stone doors into the inner courtyards of people's houses. The stone irrigation watercourses have been continuously in use since before the Incas. This is a beautiful, colourful and historic town. Frequently you see the ceramic lucky bulls on the roofs of the houses. Ollantaytambo is guarded energetically by the twin peaks of Yaninti-Masinti on the horizon, and also Apu Veronica.
Ollantaytambo is dwarfed by the terraces and ruins of The Temple of the Winds. The huge blocks of stone were quarried from the opposite bank of the Rio Urubamba, 6 km away. Ollantaytambo is the site of one of the few victories of the Incas over the Spanish. Manco Inca, the rebellious Inca leader, retreated to this fortress, and in 1536 Pizzaro's conquistadors followed him. The Spaniards were showered with arrows from the fortress, and Manco Inca ordered that the plain below the fortress be flooded (using the stone irrigation watercourses). The horses were bogged down in the water and the Spaniards had to retreat.
Later on our virtual trip, we'll go up to the Temple of the Winds.