Urubamba: 5 Things the Heart of the Sacred Valley Can Offer You
- Published on Aug 24, 2016 Destinations
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The city of Urubamba, also known as the Pearl of the Vilcanota, was one of the main agricultural centers in the time of the Incas because of its fertile land. It is located at the foot of the snow-capped mountain Chicón at almost 10,000 feet above sea level, placed about an hour drive from the city of Cusco.
The marvelous landscape with various ecological zones and pleasant climate emphasizes the beauty of the largest town in the Sacred Valley.
Learn more below about why Urubamba is worth a visit for any type of traveler!
Though Cusco and Aguas Calientes (the last train station town before Machu Picchu) have a plethora of activities and shops to explore, they tend to be much more Westernized due to the high volume of tourists visiting year round.
Urubamba maintains its true Peruvian feel with food markets that are actually frequented by the locals rather than being adorned with stands selling alpaca clothing and souvenirs.
Even when exploring the more famous sites near Urubamba, like the ancient Incan Mara Salt mines, you hardly feel as if you are experiencing an overly-touristy attraction–in fact, those mines are still very much in use by the local community!
Urubamba is the perfect home base for many of the most popular sites and activities in the Sacred Valley. Whether you want to check out the historical Moray ruins or Huayna Capac Palace, get your adrenaline pumping with a canoeing or zip lining experience, explore the infamous Ollantaytambo ruins, or simply take in the beautiful landscapes in a quiet off-the-road village, Urubamba is the place for you!
Urubamba also offers a perfect area to acclimate yourself to the altitude before Machu Picchu, as it is highly elevated–but not too high. Many hotel options have recently popped up in the city which offer peaceful luxurious oases which emphasize the Sacred Valley’s surrounding beauty.
Not to mention, Urubamba houses a major train station, Ollantaytambo, of PeruRail to accommodate easily access to Machu Picchu within 2 hours.
3. History & Culture
Within Urubamba itself, you can find hidden gems of historical and cultural significance. Check out the Santiago Apóstol church in the Plaza de Armas to view traditional colonial art such as gothic-style crosses and a gold-plated altar. The church was declared a culture heritage site as it is considered the first church in the Sacred Valley.
If you’re interested in an unforgettable, intimate cultural experience (and/or souvenir), make your way to Cerámica Seminario. Husband and wife duo Pablo Seminario and Marilú Behar invite guests to view their workshop directly while they are working on their popular Seminario style ceramics.
Also, don’t miss the Yuyarisun Cultural Center, a beautiful farm located less than 2 miles from town, with workshops that resurrect local art, handicrafts, and textiles.
Located just 40 minutes from Urubamba, the expansive Moray ruins offer hypnotizing circular terraces that date back to the Incan empire. The definitive origin of this archaeological site is unknown, although more and more theories point to it as a testing ground for various agriculture due to the microclimates created by the terraces.
If you’re looking for more even artifacts, visit the Martin Pío Concha House. Owned by the last Spanish ruler of Cusco in the 19th century, this place now houses 360 archaeological pieces, including skeletal remains, metal parts, ceramics, and stone pieces, found in Machu Picchu by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham.
The stunning scenery surrounding Urubamba also creates the perfect conditions for all types of adrenaline-filled adventures! The Urubamba river, also known as the Wilcamayu or Sacred River, is a beautiful spot for river rafting and canoeing.
Nature Vive offers climbing excursions as well as zipline adventures with an added extra of eating lunch in a Skylodge Adventure capsule on the side of the mountain.
For those with a fear of heights, there are various horseback riding tours that take you through the breathtaking valleys, or you can elect to simply use a bike!
Biking or hiking serves as a good option to see various ruins around the area as well. In Urubamba, there is an activity for every type of traveler.
Urubamba offers visitors an off-the-beaten-path authentic experience in the Sacred Valley that cannot be missed. Tourists can access the town conveniently via an hour and a half bus or hour taxi ride from Cusco.
Again, our PeruRail Vistadome train operates in the train station in the city of Urubamba in order to continue your journey to Machu Picchu.
Urubamba allows you to visit mystical places with lots of history and culture that are still outstanding despite the years. Enjoy and experience the combination of ancient culture and adventure of Urubamba!