Yucay is one of the most beautiful towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Although it is not very visited by tourists, it has a mysterious charm that enchants its visitors. Perhaps this is due to its constructions of Inca origin. Or to the traditions of its people. The truth is that for many it is the town in the valley with the best climate and the most fertile lands. For this reason, half jokingly, the tourist guides affirm that it is the most beautiful town in the world. The best way to go is on your own as there are no exclusive tours to Pisac.
- The most beautiful town in the world
- What does Yucay mean?
- Where is it located?
- How to get there?
- Map: how to get to Yucay
- Yucay history
- The village
- Its weather
- Its tourist attractions
- How much does it cost to go?
- More information
- Some advices
Colonial temple of Yucay
The most beautiful town in the world
- During Inca times, Yucay was the residence of the emperors Huayna Cápac and Sayri Túpac.
- In colonial times, it was one of the most important points since the ‘Yucay Valley’ was also made up of the towns of Maras, Yanahuara, Urubamba, Chichubamba, Huayoqari, Huayllabamba as well as Urquillos.
- In 1905 it was just declared as a district belonging to the province of Urubamba. However, due to its importance throughout history it is recognized as the ‘capital of the Sacred Valley of the Incas’.
- Today, thanks to its good climate, its calm rhythm of life and the fertility of its lands, it is, for many tour guides, the most beautiful town in the world. There are even already several foreigners who decided to stay in Peru and live there.
What does Yucay mean?
- Yucay is a Quechua word that, translated into Spanish, means ‘deception’ or ‘charm’. The reason for this name is not defined but, apparently, it would be related to the beauty of this land.
- The chronicler Pedro Cieza de León describes it like this: “Yucay is very beautiful, tucked between the heights of the mountains, in such a way that with the coat they make for it, it is of healthy and cheerful temper, because it is neither too cold nor too hot”.
Where is it located?
- The historic and colonial district of Yucay is located 55 kilometers from the city of Cusco. And, 71 kilometers if you take the road on the side of Pisac.
- Yucay is 2,857 meters above sea level. This altitude represents about 500 meters below the city of Cusco.
- For many, due to its warm temperate climate, it is one of the best climates in the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas.
How to get there?
- To get to Yucay you will first have to take a bus from the city of Cusco to the town of Urubamba. On Pavitos street in the city center you can get transportation by minivan for 10 Peruvian soles ($ 3).
- After the trip to Urubamba, you must take another public transport to the town of Yucay (this section costs less than $ 1). This last journey can also be done on foot or by bicycle as the distance is only 4 kilometers.
Map: how to get to Yucay
- The current town of Yucay is built on the former property of the Inca Huayna Cápac (1468 – 1524 AD). He ordered the construction of palaces, platforms and an irrigation system that still exists. The stones with which the terraces were built were brought from very remote areas to improve the production of corn and other crops in the area. More than 3,500 men were used for these works.
- It is said that this territory was also one of the favorites of the Incas Wiracocha and Pachacutec. During the Spanish invasion in Cusco (16th century), Yucay witnessed fierce battles between the Spanish invaders and the rebellious Incas led by Manco Inca. A few years later, the rebel leader Sayri Túpac yielded to the Spanish force and, after a pact, chose this land to build his palace. Today it is still possible to appreciate this enclosure.
- In the viceroyalty of Peru (from 1542 to 1824), Yucay enjoyed great importance due to the fertility of its lands. At that time it was known as the ‘Yucay Valley’ and was made up of several towns and agricultural areas. Finally, in 1905 Yucay was declared as a district belonging to the province of Urubamba.
- Currently, this small and simple town shows streets and palaces and even colonial temples, inherited from its ancestors.
- The town of Yucay still preserves streets, canals and walls from the Inca period. However, what stands out the most are its numerous platforms since 75% of its territory was part of the Inca agricultural production.
- Another of the most striking aspects of the town is its main square, divided in two by its colonial temple.
- At the top of the town, the snowy Chicón and Illihuaman stand out.
- Due to the growing tourism, the town has beautiful hotels where the 4-star hotel ‘Sonesta Posada del Inca de Yucay’ stands out.
- Yucay currently has more than 3,000 inhabitants. Many of them are still engaged in agriculture and livestock.
- Yucay has a warm temperate climate. This ranges between 23ºC, maximum and 8ºC, minimum. As in all Cusco, the rains are more frequent from November to April. On the other hand, from May to October they are less common although they can occur.
Its tourist attractions
Yucay platforms – In this place you can find the largest terraces in the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas. These platforms are still used today. To reach them, you will have to climb small pre-Hispanic stairs attached to each platform. Here you can see the so-called ‘Mythological Stone’, a stone formation in which you can distinguish the three levels of the Andean worldview : the Hanan Pacha (world of the gods) represented by a condor, the Kay Pacha (world of people) whose representation is a puma, and the Ukhu Pacha (the underworld or world below) that is represented with a serpent.
Santiago Apóstol Temple – It is a temple dating from 1650 AD It was built by Bishop Manuel de Mollinedo and priest Juan Arias de la Lira. Inside you can see valuable pieces of art and imagery, among which the figure of Santiago Apóstol stands out. The main altar is made of gold leaf and silver plated.
Sayri Túpac Palace – It is an Inca construction that must have served agricultural and religious purposes. In the archaeological site you can find a pre-Hispanic ceramic kiln in an amazing state of preservation. In addition to structures that seem to serve as a kind of lunar calendar.
The Saywa area – In this place, pictographs (form of graphic communication) belonging to the Neolithic as well as 4,000-year-old cave paintings have been discovered. In the place where these paintings were found, there were also remains of ceramics and skeletal remains that give evidence of the multiple occupations of the place.
The Yanacocha Nature Reserve – This place is reached through a path from the Huayoqhari farm. It is an entertaining 4-hour walk through beautiful landscapes with streams and the beautiful lagoons of Yanacocha and Quellococha, surrounded by native vegetation.
How much does it cost to go?
- Since there are no exclusive tours to Yucay, the only way to go is on your own by taking public transport.
- The first step is to take a public transport minivan on Pavitos street in the city of Cusco (cost of 3 dollars, approximately). Once in Urubamba you must take another public transport to Yucay (cost of 1 dollar, approximately). In total the trip will take 2 hours.
- Finally, once in Yucay, you can explore the streets and historical places on your own. You can also take walks or visits to other tourist attractions on your own.
- A good idea is to book accommodation in Yucay. There are various tourist lodgings at affordable prices. The great advantage is that you will be surrounded by mountains, farm fields and the sound of nature very close.
- Yucay was the main place of Inca resistance during the conquest. The Incas, led by Manco Inca, assembled an army to face the Spanish invasion. However, they were defeated by the Cañaris (indigenous people in the service of Francisco Pizarro) who were led by Apu Chillche.
- When Sayri Túpac (son of Manco Inca) took command of the rebel Incas, he decided to immediately yield to the conquerors and stopped the civil war. In exchange for this they gave him the lands of Yucay and he lived there until he was poisoned by his father’s executioner, Apu Chillche.
- Yucay is located in a strategic point of the Sacred Valley. It is close to the most visited archaeological sites in Cusco: Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero and Moray. You can visit all these places with the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’, which has a cost of 70 Peruvian soles (22 dollars, approximately).
- If you visit Yucay, don’t forget to bring some good shoes with you. The town is full of fields, mountains and valleys. The best way to see everything is on foot.
- Also, do not forget to bring a rain poncho as it can rain at any time. The correct clothing is comfortable pants, a polo shirt, a light jacket and good shoes.
- If you are looking for the tranquility of the countryside but do not want to spend the night in Yucay, the best option is the town of Urubamba. This town is only 4 kilometers from Yucay. It has a lot of hotels and other tourist services. It also offers beautiful landscapes, huge fields and the sound of nature.
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 29, 2021