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Routes and Tips: Urubamba, a River of Adventure

Trips: The departure point for the Sacred Valley is Cusco. There are two routes to follow: via Pisac or via Chinchero. We recommend taking the first route. Distances: Cusco to Pisac is 32 km; Pisac to Calca, 18 km; Calca to Urubamba, 28 km; and Urubamba to Ollantaytambo, 19 km.

Accommodation: There are two- and three-star hostels along both routes, together with a "vacation center" in Urubamba and a Tourist Parador in Ollantaytambo.

Transport: There are many tourist agencies in Cusco that organize daily trips. Tourist buses and taxis are also a good option.

Food: The whole Sacred Valley area is more than well supplied with restaurants serving exquisite regional delicacies: maize with cheese, corn tamales, fresh trout, Pachamanca (a kind of barbecue cooked in an earth pit), all served with fresh vegetables.

Adventure Tourism: Visitors planning a longer stay have many choices when it comes to adventure sports. River running, for instance, is one of the more popular pastimes. Both the Vilcanota and Urubamba rivers are excellent for the sport, with rapids that will thrill the beginner and even give experienced rafters pause. The Calca-Urubamba stretch is one of the more popular runs.

Other Distractions: For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, hiking through the breathtaking mountain scenery along old Inca trails is not to be passed up. Horseback riding through some wild but spectacular country is a good alternative. Failing that, some of the agencies organize mountain-biking trips along equally beautiful trails. In Calca, the saddle-sore can even take a dip in the Machacancha thermal baths to ease aching muscles.

Mountain Climbing: the Vilcanota Cordillera has a number of peaks that offer a challenging climb, including El Chocón, which overlooks Pisaq. "Andinismo," as the locals call it, has become a popular sport in Peru and there are five or six other peaks in the area that climbers can try.

Clothing: Although it is not particularly cold during the day, the nights in the Sacred Valley can be pretty chilly and it is best to carry warm clothing and a good pair of boots (preferably waterproof).

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Volume II/Issue 8, Page 64
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