Spanish naturalist Antonio de León Pinedo rhapsodized that Urubamba must have been the biblical Garden of Eden, but you'll be forgiven if your first glance at the place causes you to doubt that lofty claim: the highway leading into and bypassing the city, the Sacred Valley's administrative, economic, and geographic center, shows you miles of gas stations and convenience stores. But get off the highway and get lost in the countryside, awash in flowers and pisonay trees, and enjoy the spectacular views of the nearby mountains, and you might agree with León Pinedo after all. Urubamba holds little of historic interest, but the gorgeous scenery, a growing selection of top-notch hotels, and easy access to Machu Picchu rail service make the town an appealing base. Hikers will find that a multitude of small ruins can be visited in a day's outing.
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