Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas
In our blog ‘Getting Around Cusco – a Local Transportation Guide” you can see your options to figure out what local forms of transportation (bus, taxi, minivan) work best for you during your stay in the imperial city of Cusco- Peru. If you want to explore farther afield than Cusco by local transportation then Av. Grau and its surrounds is your embarkment point for routes through Chinchero to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here, as you might know, you can visit the village of Pisac, Calca, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chincheros. The area around the Rosaspata market is where you want to go to get to Pisac. To go south down the Cusco valley in the direction of Pitumarca for the Tipon ruins, then head to Plaza Tupac Amaru. There are three main ways to hitch a ride out of Cusco: by bus, by minivan, and by colectivo. Each of these options runs all day with vehicles taking off once their seats are filled and another empty one taking their place to wait for the next round of passengers.
The cheapest but slowest way to get to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley is to take the bus from the garage in Belenpampa, a street around the corner from other garages on Av. Grau. Previously these buses left from a garage on Av. Grau but moved to Belenpampa so don’t be confused if you’ve taken them before but can’t find them this time around. Fairs are cheap, Cusco to Chinchero costs S/.2.50 on weekdays and S/.3.00 on weekends. There is a window in a small building in the garage where you buy your ticket and then board the bus waiting near by. The assistant will normally take your ticket mid-route or as you disembark. Don’t be surprised to see live chickens or other small animals boarding as well! It is common procedure to flag down the bus anywhere en-route from Cusco to Urubamba, so if you find yourself stranded at the road leading to Moray, for example, just wait for a big blue bus to come whistling past and flag it down. Visa-versa, it is also common procedure to ask to get off anywhere en-route from Cusco to Urubamba. You can disembark in Chinchero or at the road on the way to Moray, the two main tourist sights, or at any other small village along the way. The bus pulls into a station in Urubamba where you can catch another bus to other destinations up or down the Sacred Valley including to Ollantaytambo, the town where you take the train to Machu Picchu.
To take a bus to all points south of Cusco, if you’re headed to Tipon, Piqillacta or Rumicolca for example, then head to Plaza Tupac Amaru. Take a taxi or walk down Av. de la Cultura until you come to the long line of tall pine trees on the left hand side. Across Av. de la Cultura from the pine tree stand is Plaza Tupac Amaru. The pedestrian bridge crossing over Av. de la Culta will take you right into the Plaza. Head to the south west corner of the plaza (the far corner opposite from where you enter if you arrive from the bridge on Av de la Cultura). On Calle Huayruru Pata you will find a garage with buses that head south out of Cusco. Fairs are S/.3.00. Calle Huayruru Pata is just a street over and runs parallel to Calle Tomasa Titto Condemayta which is the street that runs adjacent to Plaza Tupac Amaru.
If you hanker for a slightly faster and more comfortable journey, minivans leaving for the Sacred Valley take off from garages on Pavitos, Belen, Av. Grau and the surrounding area. Fairs are only slightly more expensive, one to Chinchero costs S/.3.00, but the speedier arrival might be worth it if you are pressed for time. As you approach a garage you can tell you’ve found what you’re looking for by the people outside calling out their destinations “Chinchero, Chinchero, Chinchero!” “Urubamba!” Ask them to direct you to the appropriate van by pointing to said van and asking “Urubamba?” they will be quick to say ‘sí’ and bundle you on eager for another passenger. Expect to pay as you disembark. To get to Av. Grau, walk down Av. Sol from Plaza de Armas. On your right you will see a street called Pte. Rosario. Turn right onto Puente Rosario. This is actually Av. Grau. The street Puente Rosario becomes Cuychipunco which becomes Av. Grau all within the space of a few blocks and without taking any curves that in some cities indicate a new street name. The street is straight and carries a new name almost every block. We told you Cusco streets have issues with personality disorders.
If you are going to Pisac in the Sacred Valley then you want to go to the Rosaspata market on Qollasuyo. (See directions to the market in the chapter“Exploring Cusco by Bus”. There you can find buses and minivans leaving for Pisac. There is also a garage on Calle Puputi where you can catch minivans to Pisac as well.
Collectivos are comunal, inter-town taxis. They can also be found in the general Pte. Grau area and in the streets below Belén plaza which is above Pte. Grau. They charge more than buses but about the same as minivans, S/.3.00 to go to Chinchero. They put one passenger in the front seat and four in the backseat. En-rout they might pick up a few more people on the side of the road and stick them and their bundles in the trunk. This is illegal, but it does seem that police are cracking down on it. Only the driver will get in trouble for passengers in the truck, you’re only worry is that the whole taxi will be forced to return to Cusco and you’ll have to restart your journey.
We hope you feel embolden to take on the various transportation options available both in Cusco and in the surroundings, heading to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. They can all be fun if you go at them with the right attitude and preparation. Remember, stay safe during your travels in Peru . Be aware of your surroundings and don’t live through the eye of a camera. Photos are wonderful souvenirs for folks back home, but the memories you make and the images you store in your head are worth far more and can’t be stolen. Plus, you miss out on so much life around you as you try to get that perfect shot. Tune into the daily-life of Cusco, public transportation is one of the best places to start. Enjoy your stay in Cusco and in Peru!