With a 9AM departure and no “luggage out”, this is the first morning that has felt like vacation! After a buffet breakfast at the hotel we’re headed to Ollantaytambo, a small village next to the massive Inca fortress of the same name. Ollantaytambo is possibly one of the best preserved Inca archaeological sites with some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in all of South America. Our A&K guide Franklin walks with us through some of the narrow cobblestone streets pointing out original Inca foundations, the high hillside storehouses and agricultural terraces that supported farming on otherwise unusable terrain.
After only a short time in the village, we set off to climb to the top of the fortress. This is a good warm-up for the climbing we’ll be doing tomorrow at Machu Picchu. The views across the Urumbamba valley with the village below and the ancient storehouses on the opposite hillside are amazing and certainly worth the ascent.
From Ollantaytambo we’re off to Chincheros to learn more about traditional backstrap weaving. Of course, the requisite shop is on-site, filled with beautiful tapestries of all colors, shapes and sizes created by the weavers we’ve just met. Lunch today is that the Hacienda Huayoccari, located very near our Sacred Valley hotel. Somewhere along the way we also make a stop for “chicha”, a traditional corn drink reminiscent of prohibition-era corn mash. The “chinca” stop seemed a bit strange and out of context. A simplified and preferred itinerary would have included more time in Ollantaytambo, perhaps including lunch, and then directly to the Chincheros weaving demonstration.