I know, I know, always the nature. I just love it so! And it’s so incredible here! You wake up, take a stretch, look out your window and there’s towering mountains of green with vivid red cliffs carved into their sides and traces of wispy clouds crawling slowly over their tops. And then, the literal cherry on top, are the old Incan ruins scattered throughout the mountains, just waiting to be explored. As an added bonus they also act as motivation to keep hiking up and up, even if you have to fight grazing bulls and mudslides all the way.
Most recently, we hiked to what’s called IntiPunku or the Sun Gate. Constructed perilously on the top of one of the peaks overlooking Ollanta, the sun gate frames the sacred apu of Salcantay in all its glaciated glory. On the way to the sun gate you get to wander through 3 separate quarries where the Incans carved out giant blocks of solid rock that were then slid down the hillside and across the river to Ollanta. Hundreds of boulders didn’t make the cut and lie strewn across the mountainside. Most still have at least one if not multiple perfectly chiseled sides and this graveyard of abandoned boulders looked like paradise to my climbers eye. However, in typical South American rock climbing fashion, I need to hike about 2 hours uphill in order to wrassle these ancient blocks.
This past full moon a few of us snuck into the ruins that rise above Ollanta through the back trails. It was glorious with the light of the moon illuminating the incan stones as we sat high above the town. We had free reign to scramble all around the ruins but the really cool part was that the tranquility of night made it easy to imagine what it could have been like hundreds of years ago, when the Incans ruled everything you can see.