Solstices in Ollantaytambo

The Winter and Summer Solstices (around Dec 21st and June 21st respectively in the Southern Hemisphere) are fascinating times to be in Ollantaytambo. They were important dates in the Inca calendar and lots of Inca temples and sites have special features to mark the solstices.

The mountain behind Apu Lodge, Pinkuylluna, is itself a solar calendar. The sun rises exactly behind one side of it at one solstice and from the other side on the other. This can be viewed from the fortress, where there is a special stone throne that must have been placed for observation of the reappearance of Inti, the Sun and Quilla, the Moon.

The first rays of sunshine at dawn on the solstices fall into “windows” on the pyramid of fields below the town. These windows are sets of terraces that lead to a depression in the level of the earth; according to one version of an Inca legend this is where the founding siblings of the Inca empire emerged from the Earth, the pyramid of Pakaritampu. The visual spectacle of the sun’s rays falling into the window can be observed from the far side of the Vilcanota Valley, on the way to the Inca Quarries above Cachiccata for a couple of days around the solstice. If you are interested in watching this please get in touch with us so we can organise a guide to take you. It is a wonderful walk at any time of year.

There are also ceremonies to mark this special time, and if you wish to join a sweat lodge on the land next to Apu Lodge or would like to participate in another ceremony, such as a despacho/offering or San Pedro/Wachuma ceremony we can help you organise this.

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