Ollantaytambo is a beautiful small town situated in the heart of Sacred Valley of the Incas (Valle Sagrado), approximately 2 hours by bus from Cusco. For me it is a magic place, very mystical, overflowing with positive energy and among the others full of possibilities such as biking, trekking and horse riding.
For one day trekking I can recommend you the hike to Inti Punku. Inti Punku means the Sun Gate and there are a lot of that kind of Sun Gates in Andean mountains. The Incas were building the Sun Gates in all Andes to honor the sun. Each Inti Punku played a very special rule for Incas. The Sun Gates were always situated in the special areas, on the top of mountains, from where there is always a beautiful view. One of that kind of Sun Gates you can visit while you will be in Ollantaytambo. This one is placed 3,925 meters above the see level and it is quite easy to reach.
Duration: around 8-9 hours of walking
Difficulty: moderate, you need to go all the time up, but it is not steep. Definitely you need to have some energy and physical condition to reach the top
Go alone or with a guide: Well, you can do it by yourself, without the guide. There are some moments when you can get lost but if you will know in which direction you should go, I mean if you will have idea where is your destination – Inti Punku (what is possible to see from long distance), then you should not have problems to find the right way. Even if you will lose it, you can just go ahead towards the top. In that part I lost the way, so I just climbed up without the path. Fortunatelly in the way back I followed the proper route :-). Before the trek try to ask locals about the route and about all details.
To start the hike you need to find the first bridge, just before the town of Ollantaytambo, then cross it and turn right on the path. After that just follow the path all the time. On the way you will find some smaller paths going in different directions. In that case try to stay all the time on the main path. Some points which you definitely need to pass are small wooden shelters. After some of them, there will be a narrow path going more up (quite steep part), so you need to turn on that one. That is the moment when you can get lost. But from that place you can already see Inti Punku, so it should help you to to find the right direction.
If you will go alone, it can be hard for you to find some very unique and nice places which are around, because most of them are hidden. But still it is worth to do even only trekking.
You can also hire a horse in Ollantaytambo to go to Inti Punku. If you feel that it will be to much for you, just ask in the town who has the horses and get one.
During the trek you will have a beautiful views of the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, the Cordillera Urubamba with the snowy peaks including one of my favorite mountains – Veronica (5.682 meters above see level).
If you want to take some nice pictures and see how the life is waking up, start the trip around 5 in the morning. I did that and I think it was very good decision. On the way I met local people and children going to the school. With some of them I had a really great conversations. If you will start early, you will also have much more time to enjoy the beauty of landscapes and extra time for relax and lomger breaks in the most spectacular parts. Around 40 minutes from the begining of the trek there are 2 very nice swimming pools. They are hidden in the trees and it is quite difficult to find them, but if you will have time at least try. On the way back you can stop there and take a really refreshing bath with the wonderful view for mountains. If you will take a local guide, for sure you will not lose that place.
I hope that now you have more knowledge about trekking near Ollantaytambo. I wish you a wonderful hikes :-). Remember also that Ollantaytambo has a lot to offer, so do not treat this town only as a short stop in the way to Machu Picchu. A lot of tourists make that mistake and in my opinion lose really a lot. For me Ollantaytambo, after Cusco, is the second best place to go and stay for a while. Visit the town and find out yourself 🙂