Urubamba: In the Sacred Valley of the Incas

A Visit to the Dentist in Peru

The Urubamba River, viewed from Machu Picchu | Credit: Vlad Podvorny/WikiCommons

Urubamba, with a population of roughly 21,000, is located 78 kilometers northeast of Cusco, which was was once the capital of Peru. At an elevation of 10,000 feet, it’s one of the most productive places in the country of Peru. The region produces the best white corn (known as choclo) in the world.

It’s been three years since my last visit (pre covid), and I’m anxious to return. My wife is from Cusco, and as a result we built a small house just on the outskirts of town. That was 20 years ago. Since then Urubamba has exploded. Its temperate climate as well as its slow pace are two of many reasons why so many gringos are becoming ex pats, from Europe to the States. Centrally located in the Sacred Valley, it’s an hour’s train ride to Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Once in Urubamba, you’re surrounded by mototaxis, the main transportation of this area. Mototaxis seat two people comfortably. Basically a motorcycle with a plastic cover, these small taxis transport locals and tourists to all destinations from the local market to the local plaza. Roughly 2 soles (75 cents) will get you just about anywhere within the city.

A market in Urubamba | Jason Hollinger/WikiCommons

I was there to see my dentist and get some desperately needed work done on my teeth. The dentists in the Cusco region are very qualified for about a quarter of the cost in the States.

Usually I spend a week with the dentist, then take off trekking in one direction or another. Nestled in the Andes, the area offers some of the best hiking in the world. However, being in shape is vital. Just the altitude alone is a challenge. From Machu Picchu to Choqequiro to the Salkantay, it’s a trekkers paradise.

However, this trip would be different. Due to a bad hip, I was restricted and decided to spend most of my time filming a short documentary on the treasures of Urubamba. From the restaurants to the main plaza, Urubamba is full of delicious food, as well as a plaza that continually hosts events from local dancing to concerts throughout the year.

Restaurants like el Huacatay and the Collector offer a variety of local dishes, deserts, and unbelievable coffee at a reasonable price. Plates include beef tenderloin a los aromas: meat in a creamy blue cheese and coca orange sauces accompanied with garlic fettucini (my favorite). Cost of 62 soles, or $16 U.S. You can also sample alpaca meat or kuy (guinea pig), a local favorite.

The Collector has some of the best pancakes and fresh orange juice and coffee — a destination point for your breakfast needs.

The local indigenous population known as Q’ueros hold a strong presence throughout the valley. Dressed in traditional attire, the Q’ueros are descendants of the Incas, a culture dating back thousands of years.

The massive mountain of Chicon overlooks Urubamba. And on a clear day one can see for miles the beauty of this Andean oasis. A place not to be missed as you journey through a country lost in history.

The author in Urubamba with young residents. | Courtesy

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