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Urubamba

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Urubamba

Centrally located Urubamba is the busiest of the Sacred Valley towns, if only because it´s the best equipped to handle visitors While the town itself doesn´t have a whole lot more than a handsome main plaza and magnificent mountain scenery to offer, several of the best hotels in the region are located between it and Yucay, about 3km (2 miles) down the road. Together, the two towns form a fine base from which to explore the Peru Sacred Valley region.

 

Getting here & around

All transportation to and from Urubamba goes to other Sacred Valley cities. There is a small bus terminal about half a mile from town on the main road. From there you can climb aboard a small moto-taxi to wherever it is you want to go. To most Sacred Valley destinations there are buses every 15-30 minutes.

Cuzco

Buses go through either vía Pisac, which takes two hours or to Chinchero, which should take just over an hour. The buses can be extremely crowded.

Ollantaytambo

There are also collectivo cars that leave from places up and down the carretera and go to Cuzco, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo.

Train

A vistadome train now departs Urubamba each day at 6:10 am and arrives at 8:20 am, stopping in Ollantaytambo as well. It leaves Aguas Calientes at 4:45 pm and arrives back in Uurbamba at 7:15 pm. Price: US$43 one-way / Us$ 71.50 round-trip. Contact Peru Rail in Cusco for tickets.

 

Sights

There are few attractions other than the charm of the valley itself in Urubamba. The Main Square is quaint and quiet, but is scenic, flanked by a church and Colonial buildings filled with restaurants, Internet cafés, small shops, and pisonay trees. The central fountain features a giant ear of maize.

The one place I would recommend to visit above all others is the Pablo Seminario Ceramic Studio (Berriozabal 111, on the main road). Pablo Seminario and Marilú Behar, a famed husband and wife team, are dedicated to sculpting red clay that is found in the valley. They use techniques and designs from Ancient Peruvian cultures and adapt them to their own interesting style. Everything from sculptures, murals, and decorative pottery to dinnerware is made, all of it unique and beautiful. There are also galleries in Cusco and the United States where you can purchase the goods. There is a small zoo on the premises with llamas, monkeys, and various birds. Open daily from 8 am-7 pm. The street of Ramón Castilla lacks the traditional character of the rest of the town, but this is where you will find banks, pharmacies, and most restaurants.

A groovy bar in Urubamba is Inti Killa, Av. Grau 708, which sounds as though it could be named for a Peruvian rap star. About a block from the main square, the bar/club has good dance beats, a large dance floor separate from the bar and a lounge area, and good pitchers of pisco sours. Energetic travelers with a fierce desire to get outdoors and exercise their legs in the Sacred Valley can do much more than the standard ruins treks and even the Inca Trail, though the latter is certainly the best known and, perhaps, most rewarding trek in the area.

The entire valley is virtually made for treks, but Urubamba is particullarly excellent made for treks into the lovely, gentle hillsides framing the Urubamba Valley.

  • Km 82 of the Inca Trail Trek: Wheter or not you´re planning to do the Machu Picchu trail, hiking the section from km 82 is a nice addition to the classic or miniroute. By staying to the north side of the Urubamba River, you´ll pass several good ruins sites, including Salapunku and Pinchanuyoq, finally reaching the Inca bridge at km 88.
  • Pumamarca ruins: You can reach the small but well-preserved Inca ruins of Pumamarca by a pretty trek along the banks of the Río Patacancha, which takes you through tiny villages.
  • Huayoccari: Adventurous trekkers in search of solitude should enjoy the 2-day hike (one-way) from Yucay to the small village of Huayocari, which passes some of the valley´s loveliest scenery: from the Inca terraces along the San Juan river ravine to Sakrachayoc and ancient rock paintings overlooking caves. After camping overnight, trekkers continue to the Tuqsana pass (4,000 m/13,100 ft.)and descend to Yanacocha Lake before arriving at Huayoccari.

Where to stay

A cheaper alternative to the more upscale hotels reviewed below is the pleasant and very good-value Hostal Y´llary, Plaza Manco II, 107. With nice, large rooms and gardens for a relatively modest price, it occupies a section of the same 18th-century hacienda as the much fancier Posada del Inca. The Willka Tíka Guesthouse, on the road to Ollantaytambo, is a small inn with cottages and a lovely garden seeting. Closely associated with New Age and yoga- and meditation- related tourism, it accepts only special-interest group lodgings with Magical Journey Tours and others groups.

 

Where to dine

The best restaurants in Urubamba, and the entire Sacred Valley for that matter is La Casa de la Abuela, Bolívar 272, a charming and sprawling house a couple of blocks from the main square. Specializins in pizzas from a wood-burning oven, pastas, and tasty home-cokked Peruvian dishes, the restaurant has terra-cotte walls, several dining rooms, and a inviting living room/bar area. It looks and feels like someone´s house,. Che Mary, Main Square, is a funky two-story pub/restaurant with a single corner balcony upstairs. It features good soups and sandwiches, as well as ceviche and grilled or garlic trout; there are also vegetarian dishes. At night. it´s more hip-music pub than restaurant. On the main road going toward Yucay, Quinta Los Geranios, Av. Cabo Conchatupa s/n, is a good open-air restaurant, set around a garden. It gets hit midday with tour buses but still manages to concoct fine versions of Peruvian standards such as rocoto relleno and a number of indogenous soups.

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