Urubamba

The town of Urubamba is the capital of the province of the same name in Cusco, Peru. It was one of the most important places in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Their lands are fertile. Its mountains, imposing. Hundreds of tourists arrive there every day to discover its beautiful landscapes, practice adventure sports, taste Peruvian cuisine, spend the night in its cozy hotels and take the train that leads to Machu Picchu.



What is Urubamba?

Urubamba is one of the most important towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In the past it was an agricultural area highly valued by the Incas for its fertile lands. It is still possible to appreciate the Inca platforms, terraces, walls and enclosures. Today, it is the capital of the province of the same name. A place where hundreds of tourists arrive daily. The town has high quality restaurants and hotels. There you can also practice adventure sports. It has a train station heading to Machu Picchu. A few kilometers away are the famous salt mines of Maras and the circular platforms of Moray.

Location and altitude

The town of Urubamba is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the department of Cusco in Peru. It is 60 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco (1 hour 30 minutes of travel). The town is at the foot of the Vilcanota River, in a green valley surrounded by imposing mountains and snow-capped mountains such as Chicón and Pumahuanca.

The town is located 2,687 meters above sea level (8,815 feet of altitude). This height offers a pleasant warm climate for the visitor. The symptoms of altitude sickness are less compared to the city of Cusco, located at 3,399 meters of altitude (11,151 feet).

Map to get to Urubamba

How to get there?

Urubamba is reached by two routes by car. They all depart from the city of Cusco. The first, and shortest, goes through the town of Chinchero on a 60-kilometer route (1 hour 24 minutes). You can travel by taxi, although the best option is to take a public service on 'Pavitos' street, located a few blocks from the Main Square of Cusco.

The other route, the longest that passes through the towns of Pisac and Calca, runs for 72 kilometers (approximately 1 hour 44 minutes). Public transport cars and minivans depart from 'Puputi' street, also located a short distance from the town square.

History of Urubamba

Urubamba, like the rest of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, was a geographical area inhabited by human groups that joined the Inca empire in approximately the 13th century. This area was an important agricultural area where the Incas built platforms and enclosures where they grew potatoes, corn, goose, and quinoa, among others. The Vilcanota River (the Wilcamayu for the Incas) as well as the Chicón and Pumahuanca mountains; They were divine entities, according to the Inca worldview. Therefore, the place is an important settlement for the Incas.

During the arrival of the Spanish to Cusco in the 16th century, many of the temple and palace buildings in the Sacred Valley of the Incas were destroyed. Only many of the platforms were maintained for agricultural work in favor of the colony. At that time many colonial houses were built as well as the San Francisco temple located in the main square. In 1825 the province of Urubamba was created. The town of the same name was the capital of said province, which also includes the district of Machu Picchu.

Today, Urubamba is one of the most visited destinations by tourists. It has a warm climate and a beautiful geography that is ideal for adventure sports. The town has the best hotels and restaurants in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. There is also a train station with daily departures to the Machu Picchu station. Near Urubamba are some of the most famous archaeological sites such as Maras, Moray, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and, the Inca city of Machu Picchu.

Tourist attractions

Moray – The Inca platforms of Moray are a set of circular platforms built by the Incas for the experimentation of different agricultural products such as potatoes, goose, quinoa, coca leaves, among others. The set of these immense platforms forms one of the most popular landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is located only 22 kilometers from the town of Urubamba.

Maras – The town and the Salineras de Maras are two of the most popular tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley. The town maintains its church and colonial-style streets. The salt mines are more than two thousand salt wells that together form a beautiful landscape very photographed by tourists. These tourist attractions are 5 kilometers from the town of Urubamba.

Inkariy Museum – This museum is one of the least known because it is not in the city of Cusco where the vast majority are. However, it has several exhibition rooms that show the lifestyle of the different cultures of Peru in chronological order: Caral, Chavín, Chimú, Wari, Nazca, Mochica, Chachapoyas and Inca. It is located 16 kilometers from the town of Urubamba.

Vilcanota River – The Vilcanota River, also known as the Urubamba River, is ideal for canoeing. It also passes through other towns in the Sacred Valley such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo and even Machu Picchu. In Urubamba it is part of its beautiful landscape. It was sacred to the Incas and today it is very photographed by tourists.

Temple of San Pedro Apóstol - This church, the oldest and main in the town, was built in 1686. Its colonial-style architecture also presents a baroque decoration with a gold leaf altar as well as silver plates. The decoration offers figures of animals and flowers typical of the region.

Adventure sports

Canoeing – The Vilcanota River is ideal for canoeing at levels II, III, IV and V, which varies according to the time of year. From April to October, the levels for beginners are carried out, while from November to March, for the more advanced levels. During the tour, you will also enjoy incredible landscapes of the mountains and valleys of the Urubamba.

Rock climbing – Only about 25 kilometers from the town of Urubamba, in the Pachar sector, mountain climbing is practiced. This sport has all the security elements so it is allowed for inexperienced people. There are walls for the most basic levels as well as walls for more expert visitors. From the top there is an incredible view of the entire Urubamba valley.

Paragliding – The high mountains near the town of Urubamba are ideal for paragliding. This sport is performed at the Racchi viewpoint, from where you have a privileged view of the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas. Both beginners and experts can practice this sport. The Racchi viewpoint is about 20 minutes by car from Urubamba.

Hotels

The town of Urubamba has various lodging services, from 5-star hotels to very cheap shared services. Prices range from $ 300 per night to single stays of $ 15 per night. An adventurous option is the famous 'Skylodge Adventure Suites', which is hanging from a slope towards the Vilcanota River. Many tourists choose to stay in Urubamba instead of Cusco, as the climate is warmer and there are no serious symptoms of altitude sickness. Services can be booked in the town itself or online.

Restaurants

Some of the best restaurants in Cusco are in the town of Urubamba. Prices vary according to the quality of the service. Tourists can get gourmet dishes for $ 30 on average. You can also get a menu (starter and main course) at the town market, for only about 3 US dollars. In any place, Peruvian food is offered, considered one of the best cuisines in the world. Among the most popular dishes are: the ceviche, the stuffed cause, the fried trout, the lomo saltado, among others.

Urubamba train station

The Urubamba train station is in the middle of town, surrounded by high mountains, green fields and the Vilcanota river. It has few daily departures to Machu Picchu. One of these is the so-called 'Sacred Valley Train' of Peru Rail, which departs directly from this town. This train includes lunch (or gourmet dinner) as well as an observatory car, snacks, courtesy drinks and much more. The station is located on Avenida Ferrocarril s / n. Not many tourists choose to board their train in Urubamba. Most do so in the town of Ollantaytambo.

How much?

Most tourists visit Urubamba within the 1-day tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This tour includes a visit to the towns and archaeological sites of Pisac, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo as well as a gourmet lunch in the town of Urubamba. That is why visitors only have the opportunity to appreciate this beautiful town for a short time. The other option is to go to Urubamba on your own. To do this, you only have to take one of the public transports that depart from Pavitos street (direct route) or Puputi street (longer route). The cost of the trip is approximately 10 soles per person (3 US dollars). Once in Urubamba, you can visit any of the tourist attractions on your own.

Climate

Urubamba has a temperate climate. It is one of the towns with the most pleasant climate, according to the opinion of visitors. The maximum temperature during the day can reach 23ºC. (73.4ºF). The coldest temperature at night can drop to 4ºC. (39.2ºF). The rainy season is recorded from November to April. On the other hand, from May to October the dry season occurs, the one with less rain but colder at night.

Images of Urubamba

Rio Urubamba atravesando el Valle Sagrado de los Incas
Traje típico - Urubamba
Marka Qocha Urubamba
See more traveler pictures

Some additional information

The name 'Urubamba' comes from a Quechua word, the language of the Incas that means 'pampas a day's journey'.

Urubamba has a great hotel infrastructure. However, the hotels in the city of Cusco receive the majority of tourists, mainly due to its proximity to the city's airport. This could change when the construction of the Chinchero airport (located just 30 kilometers from Cusco) is completed. For many experts, tourism in Urubamba would grow exponentially.

All 'tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas' include a quick visit and lunch in the town of Urubamba. To get to know this town better it is better to go on your own. During the route you can also visit other neighboring towns such as Pisac, Chinchero or Ollantaytambo.

Urubamba is one of the towns where more tourists have decided to stay and live. Many are enchanted by the simple lifestyle of its inhabitants. The calm of its streets. And, above all, the beauty of its landscapes. It is normal to run into a foreigner who decided to stay and settle in this town.

Tips for your visit

When you visit Urubamba, take comfortable clothes and good shoes with you to tour the town. A good option is to taste delicious Peruvian food in some of its restaurants. Of course, in your backpack you should not miss a hat, rehydrating water, a rain poncho, sunscreen as well as some cash and your passport or identity document.

Urubamba has a great hotel infrastructure. However, the hotels in the city of Cusco receive the majority of tourists, mainly due to its proximity to the city's airport. This could change when the construction of the Chinchero airport (located just 30 kilometers from Cusco) is completed. For many experts, tourism in Urubamba would grow exponentially.

Altitude sickness (soroche) can affect anyone who is not used to mountain geographies. The most common symptoms are nausea, headache, and fatigue. These usually disappear within a few days after the body acclimatizes. Of course, in Urubamba, because it is located at a lower altitude than Cusco, these symptoms appear with less discomfort.

Tourist attractions close to Urubamba

Cusco city

Cusco, capital of the Incas, where you can visit the Cathedral, Coricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara, Tambomachay, museums, bars, discos, etc.

Cusco city

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a town in Cusco close to Machu Picchu. It is famous for its Cocalmayo thermal baths, its tropical climate and its tourist services.

Santa Teresa

Yucay

Yucay is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas famous for its pleasant climate, the ancient palace of the Incas Huayna Capac and Sayri Túpac and much more.

Yucay