Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Travel Log, Sunday, June 13, Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo

After all the climbing and hiking yesterday, we slept in this morning, as our only commitment was a 10:00 am train out. Debby and I walked through town a bit in the morning, looking for fruit and bread for breakfast, as the typical 28 sole breakfast buffet ($9) is a little outside our budget. Aguas Calientes is a bit like a ski resort town: beautiful setting, almost purely pedestrian, service oriented to tourists, and no real reason to exist except for the nearby major attraction, in this case, the Machu Pichu ruins.

Taking the train out during the day, we could see what we missed on our night trip in. The train runs along the river and steep, lushly vegetated walls come right down to it. From Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo the route rises about 400 meters, which is apparantely enough to change the negetation from the almost jungle-like setting of the ruins to a very dry, almost parched (this time of year) landscape of rocky peaks, with glimpses of snow covered pearks in the distance.

Daylight also let us see the destruction that the February rains brought. Numerous sections of the route were either washed out by the river below, or covered up from mud and rock slides from the slopes above.

We arrived back in Ollantaytambo around 1:30 and checked into the hospedaje we had started to stay at 2 days before. After a light lunch, Debby and I decided to explore the town a bit. Up to this point, we hadn't really gotten a handle on this town. There is a town squqare, which is curently being reconstructed, and what is most apparant, is the steady stream of tourists passing from the square, across the bridge, and up to the ruins. However, as we walked, we "discovered" another part of the town, which is all stone streets and walls, with drainage canals running thru it. We climbed up to the ruins of Pinkaylluna on the east side of town, which are very interesting, and could see the whole town, including this "medieval" sector and just across the river to the west, agricultural fields.

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