Our second day in the Sacred Valley started with a visit to Pisac, which is perhaps best known for its Incan ruins, known as Inca Písac, which is atop a hill at the entrance to the valley.
After we parked, Thomas could not control his souvenir shopping urge once again…
The Inca constructed agricultural terraces on the steep hillside, which are still in use today. They created the terraces by hauling richer topsoil by hand from the lower lands. The terraces enabled the production of surplus food, more than would normally be possible at altitudes as high as 11,000 feet.
With the military, religious, and agricultural structures, the site served at least a triple purpose. Researchers believe that Písac defended the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley, while Choquequirao defended the western entrance, and the fortress at Ollantaytambo the northern. Inca Pisac controlled a route that connected the Inca Empire with the border of the rain forest.
The hike up the fortress was brutal. This was the first taste of what high altitude does to your physical condition (which we didn’t have to begin with)
It is unknown when Inca Písac was built. Since it does not appear to have been inhabited by any pre-Inca civilization, it was most likely built no earlier than 1440.
Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquerors destroyed Inca Písac in the early 1530s. The modern town of Písac was built in the valley by Viceroy Toledo during the 1570s.
On the way to the next stop, we saw a brewery on the side of the road, we stopped for a drink but unfortunately, it was closed for a private event. We were so sad!!
Our next stop was the beautiful town Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, it was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region and built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.
Around the mid-15th century, the Inca emperor Pachacuti conquered and razed Ollantaytambo; the town and the nearby region were incorporated into his personal estate. The emperor rebuilt the town with sumptuous constructions and undertook extensive works of terracing and irrigation in the Urubamba Valley; the town provided lodging for the Inca nobility, while the terraces were farmed by yanakuna, retainers of the emperor.
There are some impressive walls in this fortress. As explained in a previous post, these are hand-carved until they perfectly fit on each other.
During the Spanish conquest of Peru, Ollantaytambo served as a temporary capital for Manco Inca, leader of the native resistance against the conquistadors. He fortified the town and its approaches in the direction of the former Inca capital of Cusco, which had fallen under Spanish domination.
We are risk takers!
Major sites within the complex include the huge Sun Temple and the Princess Baths fountain.
The scenery was spectacular.
After we finished visiting the ruins, we had a couple hours to visit the town before taking the train.
The town of Ollantaytambo is called “Living Inca City” because its residents live according their traditions and customs inherit from their ancestors.
Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America.
The town has multiple super narrow streets that made it fun to explore. But besides some hostels and some restaurants, there is not much to see.
We found a very nice place with a beautiful view of the sunset to eat dinner.
A few pizzas later, we were ready to take the train to Machu Pichu.
The only way to get to Machu Pichu is by train. In high season you need to book the tickers waaaay in advance. They also don’t let you bring big luggage, so we packed an overnight bag and left the rest of the luggage back at our hotel in Cusco.
Bonus Pic Of The Day: Most people would choose to travel to Peru with some light clothes and the most basic of toiletries to survive. But Thomas decided a clothes steamer was an absolute necessity for this trip. Gotta give it to him, every morning his clothes looked impeccable!