At this point I’ve been in Peru for 3 weeks. In this short time I’ve made the trip down to Urubamba and Ollantaytambo 3 times to attend various meetings and weaving demonstrations. The journey into the Sacred Valley from Cusco is not a quick one, but it does include some pretty spectacular scenery.
From Cusco, you can hop in a combi bus that will take you the 1.5-hour journey to Urubamba (although you’ll have to wait until the bus fills up before departing, no matter how long that might take). Once there, you’ll most likely have to transfer to another combi that will drive you the last 30 minutes to Ollantaytambo. The roads connecting the three cities are rocky and winding, precariously hugging the curves of the cliffs, and are not suited for the faint of stomach. Fortunately I never get carsick, so I love these early-morning and late-afternoon scenic rides through the Sacred Valley. Sometimes I do experience a mini heart attack when the driver speeds up to pass 3 semi-trucks at a time as a tour bus hurdles straight for us, barely swerving at the last minute to avoid a head-on collision, but regardless of the slightly reckless driving style, I genuinely enjoy myself on the trips.
The views along the road are breathtaking. As you climb steeply out of Cusco, you can see the entire city sprawled out below you, nestled between the surrounding hills. Then after you crest the peaks, you begin to descend into the Sacred Valley. The impossibly steep, snow-capped Andes in the distance are shrouded in clouds. The rolling green foothills on either side of the road fall in shadowy creases, reminding me of the full skirts of the Quechua women in the villages we’ve visited. The small clear lakes we pass along the way reflect the jagged peaks like mirrors. My favorite time to travel is around 5:00PM, right as the sun is sinking over the distant mountains. This time of day seems magical; the colors of the hills shift from green to gold to orange to pink before finally dusk settles in as I arrive back home in Cusco.
Written by Megan Malley