Wondering what to do in the sacred valley, or in Ollantaytambo, Peru? How about visiting Incan ruins with— wait for it— no other tourists?
A Sign From Above
I have lived in Ollantaytambo for 2 months now, and I rarely, if ever, saw tourists on this or any other mountain side. They tend to stick to the paths. So a couple of weeks after I got to Ollantaytambo, I realized that it is very easy to sneak into the main Incan ruins in town, and I promptly did so. But other mountainsides? Abandoned. Even the ones which clearly used to have great purpose.
There are even other Incan ruins in town and nearby; I made it a point to visit them while I still live here. But on that sunny day, a hummingbird fell from the sky and landed at my side. It suffered for half a minute before it just stopped. I was horrified. What do I do? I can’t leave it here to be eaten or run over or stepped on. So I scooped it up and brought it with me, up the ruins, and in a more peaceful resting place. I laid the hummingbird to rest about halfway up the first peak, as it seemed to be a night spot to rest, forever or just for a day. The entire valley can be seen from that spot.
Now it’s away from the crowds and closer to its beloved sky. And suddenly so was I.
It was quite abrupt, but it seemed like the gods were either warning me of something or telling me that I had a task to attend to. Either way, fueled on only almonds and chocolate, I continued on. I stopped only for another chocolate break in the shade.
Hiking the Ruins in Solitude
That’s when I encountered a wall of thorns, hopped over it in my shorts, and followed the path even further. I was sure there were more remains of the city, just behind those rocks.
And a giant rock I could climb to the top of, to the tune of Beyonce’s Run The World (Girls).
It’s spectacular here—and free— and it makes me miss some of my friends even more. Though at the same time, solitude forces you to value your own independence and strength. I wish they were here to enjoy the view with me, but I’m proud of having done it all on my own.
My favorite part of not having security guards patrolling the area is that I get to climb on top of the very sturdy walls and take it all in. You can literally choose to walk the path less taken, and climb the rocks that haven’t been climbed in much too long. For example, the third part of the park has no obvious path to it, so I made one. And I made it there & back in one piece, with some cool exploring and some pretty pictures to show for it.
In this archaeological park I can still communicate with my phone, while enjoying the privilege of traveling with the most sought after companion: one’s self.
I enjoy my own company and wackiness, and hopefully one day some others will as well, and for longer than just the two days of hiking Machu Picchu!
To visit the park yourself, ask where Pinkuylluna is, in a convenience store in the main square. If you go about 400m straight down the main square, you’ll find the entrance, labeled and unguared. Most likely abandoned, as well, but for the cactii. Keep an eye out for the sign below, above a doorway on your right.
After a few hours of hiking and climbing and dreaming on my lonesome, I showered and ate mote con queso. I left ready to dream another day, and explore with my most reliable companion.
Have you ever been to the Sacred Valley of Peru? What was your favorite thing to do there?