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Cachiqhata

Inca quarries

An Inca quarry from where the stones to build the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo originated. Anyone in town can point you to the trailhead and it's fairly well marked.

 

This main quarry is located 6 km from Ollantaytambo at an approximate altitude of 4,100 m. Here the Incas extracted and carved the massive stones to be later carried down to the Vilcanota valley and then carried back up a steep slope to the fortress of Ollantaytambo.

 

The Incas later abandoned in the quarry for a different location which used the same stone extraction: hammers to extract the granite and basalt, obtained in the Vilcanota River.

 

Even now there is not a satisfactory explanation as to how the Inca were able to transport the massive stones. What is known is that they had a huge number of people contributing their strength and ingenuity. There is no doubt that the Inca people were experts of construction. Examples include the many works that still exist in the Sacred Valley, the Koricancha and Sacsayhuaman in Cusco, Ollantaytambo itself, Pisac, Machu Picchu Citadel, etc.

 

Next to the quarry there are small constructions known by the name of "Chullpas". All we could see here are small circular base towers, built of stones held together with mortar made of red mud and straw. These are burial structures of a type that abound in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. The chullpas due to their small size, served as burial for one person, which generally placed the deceased in a fetal position along with some belongings.

 

From the quarry it is possible to see some of the stones that did not reach their destination. These are known as "Piedras cansadas” or Tired stones.

 

But the best part iw definitely the landscapes, beautiful and quite varied: fields, waterfall, all kinds of semi-wild cattle, mountains, lunar sceneries above the clouds, quarries, everything you can imagine… And there seems to be very few people hiking there, so you get to experience the mountain slopes alone.

 

Then you will continue past the quarry to an Inti Punku (Sun Gate) with phenomenal views of the Veronica glacier (weather permitting).

 

Along the way you will pass beautiful farms, landscapes, and stone chulpas  before reaching the quarries.

 

 

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