Would you like to go exploring the mountains, the jungle and the beautiful landscapes in Perú? Then going to the Quillabamba Valley is definitely a place you won’t regret visiting and I would personally recommend it as I have lived there for 4 months and seen all this place has to offer. The valley is not located very far from Cusco; you will need to take a local bus or a touristic mini bus in order to get there. The drive takes around 4-5 hours and goes by the Sacred Valley and the high mountains of Abra Malaga and is a really beautiful drive where you can’t stop looking out of the window to admire the amazing landscapes.
Off course an accommodation is needed once you are there and I will recommend the town of Quillabamba, Huyropata or Santa Teresa, which are the biggest towns as well. The town of Huyropata is really neat and a nice place to stay as well as it has everything you need; hospital, swimming pool, internet cafèes, shops, market, Plaza etc. exactly like Quillabamba and Santa Teresa (Quillabamba is the best place to stay though, due to its size and restaurants). What to do in these towns: Huyropata and Santa Teresa are two very small towns, but are very nice to hike around because of the beautiful nature. In Huyropata a swimmingpool is available while in Santa Teresa thermal natural hot springs are available as well (which are one of the best natural hot springs in the country). Quillabamba is the place, because of it beautiful main squares, restaurants, swimming pool, nightlife, size and market
What else is there to experience and see for travelers, tourists and explores in this valley? Besides the beautiful nature, there are also a lot of pre-Inca archaeological ruins (sites and pre-Inca houses) hidden and found in the surrounding mountains and a bigger archaeological site on the side of the road close to Huyropata. You can also find the famous big white stone of the Incas, which was used by the old Incan priests and had many other mysterious functions. If you really want to get close to the natives and visit the real “Mountain Indians” you can take the road to the left at the top of the Abra Malaga Mountain Pass and follow the Inca Trail which is located there. They will be happy for any visits and they have a lot of hospitality. A good idea will be to bring fruits or other type of food, because the children in the area are really poor and could really need something to be cheered up. Along the route you will see their stone houses and see how they work in the fields with their horses and llamas, a very interesting experience anyone will never forget.
Also the famous tour to Machu Picchu “The Inca Jungle Tour” also takes place in the Quillabamba Valley. From Cusco you will drive to the top of the Abra Malaga Mountain Pass, from where you will bicycle through the valley until you reach Santa Maria from where you will hike to Santa Teresa and try it hot springs before you will hike to Machu Picchu. As you can imagine, this is a very adventurous tour and is only recommended to people who is in a good shape and are adventurous. I will also like to inform future traveler going on this tour to be careful on the biking part as there is traffic on the road and only experienced biker should go on this tour.
Hike the mountain “Inka Tambu” which is located between the beginning of the valley and the town of Huyropata, which is full of archaeological sites, beautiful nature and amazing views, you won’t regret it. If you go exploring you will also find great waterfalls along the mountainsides, from where all the water runs down to the river that run along the whole valley. A very high and long waterfall is available for tourist between the towns of Huyropata and Quillabamba on the right side of the road (going from Huyropata to Quillabamba), from where you need to hike for 20 minutes until you reach the waterfall.
The plantations of the area are amazing as well; the valley is full of exotic fruit you can plug freshly from the trees. Bananas, coffee, cacao, mangos, mazazambas, chichimoyas, aguaymantos, papayas and much more is available. A tee factory is also located close to the town of Huyropata and is free to visit if you would like to get an insight in how the tee is made and distributed to whole Cusco.
I will recommend everybody that visit this beautiful valley, to bring different type of clothes for very warm weather (as the weather there is very humid and is located at the border to the Rainforest) and for rainy weather (as it rains a lot in this area, more than in Cusco). Bring a lot of insect repellant, as the area is full of mosquitos (not dangerous) in the whole valley. Take a minibus when you travel from Cusco to the valley, it only cost 15 soles ($4) more than the public bus and its much more comfortable than taking the local bus, which is not hygienic and don’t get me started telling about the smell, but for adventurous people that want to get closer to the people and how Peru really is and want some good stories to tell their friends and family at home, the local bus is an okay choice as well.