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Cachicata Trail

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Cachicata is a cryptic place; forgotten by time and abandoned to the forces of nature, it lies vacant and off the beaten path, a spirit of the Incan empire. All that remains of the quarry today are some unfinished stones and a few ruined buildings but in its heyday Cachicata must have been a hive of activity. Hundreds if not thousands of men must have worked the site as the Incas drove relentlessly ahead constructing their great works - Ollantaytambo far in the valley below is all the testimony you need.

Few people visit Cachicata today, many tourists visit the main site of Ollantaytambo below but few ever hear about, let alone visit the quarry above. The route up to Cachicata is easy to find and can be undertaken by anyone with a good level of fitness. Starting just out of town close to the old Inca bridge the path to Cachicata follows the river before beginning it's ascent up the mountain. The path winds its way up the mountain past half finished stones left lying along the path on their way down to the valley. As you enter the quarry you'll notice the area is littered with cool stones, some of them still in the process of being carved and others ready and waiting for transport. The quarry is spellbinding place to explore by yourself but if you don't know the area then there are a few real points of interest that you may miss. 

Chullpas Cachicata
Chullpas (Funerary Towers) at Cachicata
Chullpas (Funerary Towers)
The first site you come across is an area filled with Chullpas. A Chullpa is a funerary tower and from their crude appearance it is likely that these ones were built by the workers for their own purposes. Curiously the custom of constructing Chullpas is not native to the Cusco region so it is likely the workers came from another area of Peru and carried on with the ritual.

Mummies Cachicata
Mummies at Cachicata
In a small cave off the main path you can find the remains of 4 mummies. Finding the cave can be complicated as it is unmarked. The cave is on the left hand side of the path close to a large rock which has had smaller rocks quarried out of it and with a quarried rock sat close by. From there you walk about 15-20 meters off the path and will find the cave. Unfortunately at some point the mummies tomb was raided (by grave robbers or possibly just foxes) as in the past the mummies were still intact with their wrappings - today just the bones remain. 

The remains of a small settlement close to Cachicata
If you follow the path beyond the quarry and continue up the mountain you will eventually arrive to some ruined buildings which were probably where some of the workers lived. There are several constructions left standing, most of which appear to be of a working nature such as storehouses and living quarters.
If you are looking to do some camping then this is the impeccable spot with brilliant views and lots of flat open ground to pitch your tent on.

Temple high on the mountain above Ollantaytambo
If you're feeling full of energy then carry on up the path to this small temple sat on an exposed outcrop overlooking the whole valley. On a clear day the views from here are uncomparable and it is an excellent spot to get away and take in the natural surroundings around you.
No one is sure what the purpose of the temple was but you can tell from the more advanced construction techniques that it was of some importance. It is suggested that the temple was constructed in praise of the glacial-topped Mount Veronica on the opposite side of the valley. The Incas honored the mountains as gods and Veronica was one of the fundamental gods in the Cusco region.
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