The Sacred Valley of the Incas: Urubamba

During my time in Peru, I was incredibly blessed to be able to visit Urubamba and stay in the town centre for 5 days. Urubamba is a small town in Peru, located near the Urubamba River under the snow-capped mountain Chicón. The advantages of its lower altitude and relative proximity to Machu Picchu make it popular with both high-end hotels and package tours. The nice countryside and great weather make it a convenient base from which to explore the extraordinary salt pans of Maras and the circular terraces of Moray. This post will explore a few activities that you could do in Urubamba and also a very nice resort located in the town centre.

Viewing Site near Urubamba Sacred Valley Peru. The snow capped mountain is Chicon.
Viewing Site near Urubamba in Sacred Valley, Peru. The snow capped mountain in the background is Chicon.
Viewing Site near Urubamba Sacred Valley Peru
Shopping with a view? 😛

Urubamba is around 1.5 hours drive from Cusco and is the largest town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Drivers and tour groups would usually stop at this viewing point close to Urubamba for a quick break. You could take photos of the incredible views of Chicon or the Quechua Indian lady with her llamas and alpaca or buy some scarfs from the local weavers.

Do you know the differences between alpacas and llamas?

Many people confuse the alpaca and llama (including myself). They are both Camelids from South America. When they are put side by side though, it becomes easier to differentiate between the two. Here are the distinct differences:

  • Ears: llamas have long banana-shaped ears while alpacas have shorter spear-shaped ears.
  • Face: llamas have a longer face while alpacas have a shorter, more “smushed” appearance.
  • Size: llamas are roughly twice the size of alpacas.
  • Llamas produce far less fiber per animal than the alpaca, despite its much larger size. Alpaca was domesticated and carefully bred for over 6000 years as a luxury fiber-producing animal whereas the llama has been breed for the same amount of time as a pack-carrying animal.
  • There are lots more differences between llamas and alpacas. You can read more about it here.

Llama Trekking in Huaypo Lagoon

Llama Trekking in Huaypo Lagoon, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

Llama Trekking in Huaypo Lagoon, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru
The local family that I had the pleasure to spend half a day with. Very lovely, affectionate and curious family 🙂

Llama Trekking in Huaypo Lagoon, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

Llama Trekking is another highlight of my trip in Peru! I had so much fun walking with these llamas and alpacas! I am also incredibly blessed to do this with such a passionate family. Even though we have language barrier (the tour guide was our translator), they were naturally very curious people. They asked many questions and wanted to know more about me. I loved our interactions and the opportunity to know more about the family and community.

I did this activity with Venturia. It was a private tour – “Sacred Valley Llama Trek (Half Day)”. The tour guide was very passionate and impeccable. From the moment they picked me up at the hotel, arriving at the family’s home, trekking and transfer back to the hotel, I was very well taken care of and they constantly made sure I was doing good. Snacks and a light lunch were also included in the tour.

Do you know that there is a breed of alpaca called Suri?! Haha! Alpaca Suri was amongst one of the alpacas during the trekking. 

There are two different types of alpacas: 1) Huacaya (pronounced as “wokaya”) and 2) Suri. The differences between the two are mainly fleece. Huacaya have shorter fibers that stand out perpendicular to the skin, giving them a teddy bear look, while Suri’s grow long, shiny locks that curl into ringlets (Dred Locks).

There is alpaca Suri and there is also a worm called Suri!! I did not know I am so famous in Peru 😆

Llama Trekking_Pano_
So beautiful and untouched. I could sit here all day enjoying the quietness and the gentle breeze.

Huaypo Lagoon is a very small village consist of only 50 families. They are mainly farmers and herders. I learnt about the different crops that were grown in the area including Quinoa (above) during the half day trekking.

It was potatoes harvest seasons. This local family was very generous to let me observe how they use cows to help with harvesting potatoes.

Simple food farm to table – Llama Trekking in Huaypo Lagoon, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru
The locals here eat very simply and healthy too! Straight from farm to table! These are steamed corns and potatoes. The corns in Peru are bigger and have more texture compared to the corns I have eaten in other countries

Horseback Riding in Huayoccari

Horseback Riding in Huayoccari, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

Horseback Riding in Huayoccari, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

Horseback Riding in Huayoccari, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

This was another tour that I did with Venturia. It was another private tour – “Huayoccari horseback riding”. Another enjoyable tour. It was my first time riding a horse and thanks to the professionalism, I enjoyed my time with the horse. It was an interesting way to explore Urubamba!

These horses are a unique breed. They are the Peruvian Paso horse known for the comfort it provides to the rider. We went through the small town, observing the crops that the locals were growing.

Horseback Riding in Huayoccari, Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

The horse in the center is the leader of the pack! The one on the left is the horse I was on – Chika. These horses are so well trained! I feel that the owner can talk to the horses! It was amazing to see how he communicated with them whenever we needed to make turns or cross the streets! Mind-blowing!

Where to stay?

Tambo del Inka

Tambo Del Inka_Room 2

This was a heavenly place! – Enough said.

First off, the services and staff are beyond words. I was actually sick with runny nose and sore throat (not a good sign at all!) when I visited Urubamba due to the very hectic one week photography tour. I had five days in between the photography tour and another adventure tour that I joined to rest up. I was extremely glad that I chose to stay here – yes it was more expensive than other hotels but not by a lot – the room and services I received were enough incentives to pay for the slightly higher costs.

The services were one of the best I have experienced. When I arrived at the resort, my luggages were taken care of and I was escorted to their huge lobby for check in. The staff were very friendly and welcoming.

Second, the room was big, comfortable and so so relaxing! I did not expect the room to be this big actually. I was instantly brought to a state of relaxation the moment I stepped into the room 😁

Third, breakfast was included and have a great selection. The restaurant also serve lunch and dinner and I must say that they have really great chefs. The meals I had, be it in the restaurant or room service, were all full of local and fresh produce and very delicious.

They also have a very nice spa services too. I had a deep tissue massage. The massage therapist was very skilled. It helped with my flu actually. I felt so much better after the massage!

The whole resort was very well maintained. It was very clean and a perfect spot for an evening stroll.

I highly recommend this place if you are visiting Urubamba. It is conveniently located in the town centre, making it very easy to explore this area on your own. The room, food, services and staff were top notched.

I did not want to leave! 😆

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Have you been to Peru? I’d love to hear your experiences! Leave your comments below. If you haven’t, I hope this post would encourage you to explore this beautiful country.

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Photography Information:
Camera: Nikon D800 with Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 (photos) and iPhone X (photos & videos).
Post-processing: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC (photos) and Final Cut Pro (videos).
Music for the videos were licensed from Soundstripe.

All videos above were taken using iPhone X. I used DJI Osmo Mobile 2 to stabilize the iPhone especially for long hours of shooting. DJI Osmo Mobile 2 definitely helps to reduce the shakiness of my hands, if I were to do it hand-held. This produces better video quality. I love using it! You should get one too if you like taking videos using your smart phone. Click on the image below to find out more about DJI Osmo Mobile 2.

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