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davidx Urubamba - A travel report by David
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Urubamba,  Peru - flag Peru -  Cusco
11668 readers

davidx's travel reports

Urubamba, Olle/antaytambo and Pisaq

  16 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Most use the Sacred Valley to write about Macchu Piccu. I didn’t get to MP so I’m pleased to write about the valley sites as such. It’s no hardship. I could spend days there.

Taxi rank!
Taxi rank!
I don’t want to sound like Aesop’s tailless fox. I wanted to go to MP and had meant to do so. However, as that Scottish poet said, ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gan aft agley’.
Having said that, perhaps I can now say that the Sacred Valley is phenomenally interesting and stimulating in its own right. Quite which parts of the valley of the river with a number of names [I use Urubamba] comprise the sacred part I’m not too sure – almost certainly more than I have chosen here – but I am doing separate reports on Cusco and the sites nearest to it and on Andahuaylillas. The Urubamba valley is worth all of three reports, even without MP.

Urubamba is the name of a town as well as of a river and I have chosen it as the basis for this report not only because it gives its name to the river but it is where two roads from Cusco meet, one having come via the wonderful sites described in my Cusco report and the other via Chinchero and an absolutely staggering viewpoint. Urubamba is a wonderful little town, tending to be passed quickly by people making for the impressive remains at Ollentaytambo [or Ollantaytambo] and MP in one direction and in the other to the remains and the impressive and apparently world-famous [I’d never heard of it!] market at Pisaq or on to Cusco. There is a small park, containing an impressive array of ‘flame’ trees, as local guides call them. However, if you enter the town proper, you will find a Plaza de Armas as impressive as others in the region and a fine market serving almost entirely the needs of the local people. We were intrigued by the row of pedal taxis near here. Although you soon come to accept it as natural and forget that it’s appreciably different towards Puno, it’s worth mentioning that the valley generally in this section contains a lot of fine trees and other vegetation.

Favourite spots:
A bit of colour, Pisaq market.
A bit of colour, Pisaq market.
Much as I loved the Inca remains here, my very favourites are nearer to Cusco and hence I choose the market at Pisaq, famous or otherwise, as my favourite for this area. This part of Peru seems almost awash with colourful markets and roadside stalls but the market at Pisaq is very special even here, a real riot of bright coloured fabrics of all kinds – clothes, curtains, carpets to say nothing of its array of hats [I even got one big enough for myself after failing at Arequipa and Cusco], fruit, grain and vegetables, pottery, chess sets with the pieces resembling Spanish and Inca warriors, - - -.
At the entrance to the market is a large oven cooking pasty-like things [their name is well enough known but I forget it] of cheese or vegetables among others – absolutely delicious and chicken and guinea-pig and - - -.

What's really great:
Tombs and a 'face'.
Tombs and a 'face'.
I very much liked the town of Ollentaytambo – whichever spelling you choose. We expected to spend two separate nights here, one at each end of our group’s Inca Trail walk [how I wish we’d gone when we were young enough to manage it!] Hence we didn’t look at the town much the first time, when Pam was really suffering from a stomach bug– and the second never happened. However, on the night before we slept there, we did visit the remains of the Inca site which put in a serious challenge for the favourite slot above. There were terraces spreading upwards but perhaps the most special features were the remains at the bottom where both the water intake and drainage systems could be examined and largely understood – or perhaps the tombs in rock caves [those who worked on them must surely have belonged to a different species!] and what resembled a man’s face in rock between them, where somebody had once been suspended [Heaven knows where from!] to insert a single eye.

Terracing at Pisaq
Terracing at Pisaq
Pisaq remains are pretty stunning. They are situated high above the town of Pisaq and there are stalls at the bottom end of them, where vehicles have to wait, selling, materials, food [corn with cheese and sausage was mouth watering!] and lovely chess sets with the pieces decorated as Spanish and Inca warriors. Pam bought me one as a present. It’s great – but I haven’t got it. It disappeared from Pam’s backpack towards the end of the holiday!
Although much of the stonework is well up to the standards of other sites, my main memory here will be the amazing terracing, which is a real film waster if your camera isn’t digital.

Garden, Las Orquideas
Garden, Las Orquideas
We stayed at Las Orquideas at Ollentaytambo. It consists of rooms on two floors around a lovely garden. Ironically it was the only place on our trip that was not en suite, when Pam most desperately needed somewhere that was. In other respects it was delightful and I see from the net that it’s really cheap. See http://www.andeantravel antaytambo/orquideas.html [no breaks]

N.B. Oven through window
N.B. Oven through window
No names I’m afraid and quite opposite experiences. In Ollentaytambo we ate in a restaurant between Las Orqideas and the main plaza [see map on website above]. It wasn’t inspiring – except that the taste of Pam’s omelette inspired a bit of horror.
The other restaurant we experienced was terrific. Travelling from Ollentaytambo you pass the main part of Urubamba on your left and find a very attractive restaurant, also on your left.

Other recommendations:
The Mirador
The Mirador
Believe me, this doesn’t deserve to come at the tail end of a report. The Mirador on the road to Cusco from Urubamba near Chinchero is something very special. Apart from the view of high glaciers, which would be magic on its own, the high Andes present a tapestry that is a sort of study in variations of brown and browny green – not interesting. you think? I might have agreed with you before going here!

A place that we didn’t get to see and that is expensive unless a big group goes together is the Maras saltpans, still very much in productive use after centuries of history. provides good photos if you are interested.

There’s little point in my talking about Macchu Piccu as there are several excellent 5* reports from people who have been there.

Published on Thursday October 20th, 2005

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Wed, Oct 26 2005 - 02:21 PM rating by magsalex

Interesting report

Sat, Oct 22 2005 - 08:32 AM rating by miguelmarchi

All your reports are written with knowledge, like a profesional journalist

Fri, Oct 21 2005 - 04:37 PM rating by eirekay

David, your report is enchanting! Wonderful photos!

Fri, Oct 21 2005 - 11:55 AM rating by mistybleu


Shame about MP, but there is always next time, it's like a good comedian, always leave the crowd wanting more.

I really enjoyed reading your report, this is rapidly becoming my favourite country - with so many extremes.

Fri, Oct 21 2005 - 07:10 AM rating by rangutan

I saw these places back in 1987, this is an excellent and accurate report of the region, many (only) good and beautiful memories come back in my mind. I couldn't catch "MP" at first, should be abreviated rather as M'Picchu or just 'Picchu or not at all?
My rating defended as follows....
travel related:***** certainly
originality:***** first hand experience and personal descriptions, new place
style (of writing): **** easy to read, except web-ads and square brackets
grammar:***** perfect
length: **** almost optimal
use of GLOBO headings / format: **** almost all
usefull tips: **** little but great since this is remote
pictures: ***** first class
tourist hub or remote place: ***** a new place, which more members would rep on the "between" places!!!
extras: **** incomplete but suppose a series will follow
AVERAGE: 4.6 excellent!

Thu, Oct 20 2005 - 11:12 PM rating by downundergal

Your report bought back some great memories. I purchased an Incan fertility god made to go into a niche made of white granite from MP at the market at Pisaq - very special & Ollantaytambo was my favourite ruin aside of MP. How they moved those stones...incredible. Great report.

Thu, Oct 20 2005 - 02:43 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Very interesting! As usual

Thu, Oct 20 2005 - 09:27 AM rating by toribio


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