A Travellerspoint blog

Making Lemonade & the last stronghold of the Inca Empire

Ollantaytambo, Peruvian Andes

View Around the World! - Part 1 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

We had planned a repeat visit to the Wonder of the World - Machu Picchu, but we missed the train. Well, not intentionally. There just happened to be a demonstration at the time that blocked the train tracks. So, the only other way to Machu Picchu would have been to hike and, we're not doing that again, nor did we have the four days to do so. This was so unfortunate for our fellow travellers who had this famous site on their bucket lists. But you know the saying, "when life gives you lemons ... make lemonade."

Royal Caribbean and the tour company, Akorn Destination Management, did a remarkable job of making the last-minute arrangements for us to see more in Cusco, visit the Sacred Valley, and tour the Inca site at Ollantaytambo. Imagine this - they also arranged, on the spur of the moment, a luncheon for over 450 people and a horse show featuring Peruvian Pasos. Amazing and very well executed!

The first stop of the day was to the Convent of Santo Domingo which was built by the Spaniards on top of the ruins of the sacred Inca Temple, Qorikanch. In Quecha, Inca's native language, it means "house of gold". This was one of the most important temples and housed the Emperor during his reign as well as the cosmic and terrestial gods of the Incas made from silver and gold. The darker, blackened wall you see in the front of this photo was part of the original Inca Temple.


During our previous visit, we frequently passed by this structure but never ventured inside. It is renowned as the most exceptional example of Inca architecture within the entire Inca Empire. The basalt and andesite stones used in its construction were transported from a distance of over 20 miles. To safeguard the structure against seismic activity, all its walls are inclined at an angle of approximately 14 degrees.


The stones were assembled using a tongue and groove method without mortar, creating such a tight fit that even a credit card cannot slip between them.



The enclosures within Qorikancha were of the gods that the Inkas worshiped: the stars, the moon, lightning, thunder, the rainbow and most importantly, the sun. Each of the rectangular rooms were constructed in such a manner that you could see from one to the other through trapezoid shaped openings.

We then journeyed through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known as the Urubamba Valley, a region in the Andes. This area was highly important to the Incas due to its fertile land, lower elevation, and proximity to Cusco. The valley is characterized by its stunning landscapes, Inca archaeological sites such as Ollantaytambo, and traditional towns. It served as the agricultural heartland of the Inca Empire, cultivating a variety of crops including maize (corn), potatoes, quinoa, beans, chili peppers, squash, and cabbage. During our travels, we passed numerous cultivated fields and observed the local Peruvians.


In the midst of magnificent natural surroundings, encircled by the breathtaking Andes mountains, we arrived at Ollantaytambo.


By 1533, when the Spanish conquistadors reached Peru, Ollantaytambo had become one of the largest and most significant settlements in the Inca Empire. It encompassed urban areas, temples, palaces, agricultural zones, watchtowers, and food stores.


Situated amidst three valleys, this city served as a strategic vantage point, potentially contributing to the Incas' sole triumph over the Spaniards at this location. Climbing a portion of the terraced site, evoked memories of our previous experience on the Inca trail from years ago.

As you may know, when you're on a cruise vacation, one is never far away from a good meal and entertainment. We concluded our visit to the Sacred Valley with a late luncheon, followed by a horse show with Peruvian dancers and Paso horses. The restaurant was situated high in the mountains and trust me when I say it was a challenge to get there but offered an incredible vista.


I couldn't resist the photo of the napkin. [Dan Prailes, you probably remember the napkin folding class in the Bahamas .. but I don't think any of our works of art turned out like this replica of the condor!] The luncheon was followed by a Peruvian horse show at the same location.



The Peruvian Paso was bred specifically to cover long distances on mountain trails, creating a smooth-riding horse with a big (compared to Paso Fino) ground-covering stride (this breed also developed the outward swing of the front legs.) The barefoot dancer performed the Marinera, a Peruvian dance, alongside the horse. [Jeff said we'll try this when we get home. He claims Amber will do a better job of the pivot on the hind leg. But I can assure you I won't be barefoot!]

Posted by Where2FromHere 16:48 Archived in Peru

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