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Latin America Ollantaytambo (PERU)

Now this is one of my favorite places in Peru! Small village with cobbled streets and tiny houses hidden among tall mountains of the Sacred Valley. There are no big hotels and no crowds of tourists (except those coming in the afternoon on their one day trip from Cuzco). Early mornings the mountain tops are lost in clouds and fog and the best thing is just to sit down with your coffee in a beautiful flower garden watching them unfold...
The climate is warmer than in Cuzco, because the altitude is lower. It is a wonderful place!
What here: 5 minutes walk from the main square you will find the entrance to the ruins. They have the same name as the village – Ollantaytambo (The Home of Ollanta). They were built long before the Inca empire, but Incas used the place as well, probably as a fortress to protect the Sacred Valley. In the mornings there are almost no visitors. Before the entrance you will also find a local crafts market with very good prices! Ollantaytambo sits next to the river Urubamba and has the closest train stop to Machu Picchu running various trains daily there and back.

Where to stay:
If you are willing to spend around 180 USD/night go for the hotel Pakaritampu, because it is worth it! Otherwise you can find other cheaper places all around. As for restaurants and coffee shops, expect to get ordinary food and slow service (I haven´t found a place to eat in Ollantaytambo which I would like to recommend ... yet).
How to get here: By cab or minivan from Cuzco. The journey is an experience itself, you can stop at many places worth visit on the way (Pisac, Moray, salt mines …). If you go straight, it takes about 2 hours. But visiting these places will take you the entire day … or more. To get to Machu Picchu from here, you must use train (1 hour 45 minutes one way).