Incan temple ruins – Ollantaytambo, Peru photo essay

“Mama!” the guard says. We follow his pointing finger to see a plump yellow bird sunning herself on a rock wall. Smiling and nodding, we look back to the guard, whose main job seems to be to keep tourists from falling off the side of Cerro Bandolista, the Incan temple hill in Ollantaytambo, Peru.

Steep stairs at the ruins of Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Steep stairs at the ruins of Ollantaytambo

He points again at the bird, repeating, “Mama.” Then, turning away from us, he points further up the hill. “Papa. Bambinos.”

“Gracias!” we say and the guard struts away looking pleased and proud to have shown us something unique. That is a man who loves where he works.

Incan ruins from afar, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Incan ruins from afar

For good reason, too. Ollantaytambo’s ruins are mega. Mega impressive, rivaling Machu Picchu in the picturesque department. Mega sized, tall wild-flower covered terraces looking like staircases for gods or giants. And mega mysterious, filled with unfinished temple structures of unknown purpose, abandoned quickly and eroding slowly.

Three worn carvings, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Three worn carvings at Ollantaytambo ruins

Rock, wall, grass, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Rock, wall, grass

Incan wall with lichen, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Incan wall with lichen at Ollantaytambo ruins

This is a large panorama. For the full effect, click on the image to see the full-sized version in a new window.

Panorama of Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Panorama of Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo

Oh yes, and here’s the bird.

Yellow bird, Ollantaytambo, Peru photo

Yellow bird at the Ollantaytambo ruins