Inca Trails to Machu PicchuMachu Picchu

Urubamba River


Machu Picchu Urabamba River
Photograph of the Machu Picchu ruins and terraces overlooking the Urubamba River which is located about 2000 feet (600 meters) below the citadel.  The river below actually curves around the mountain on which the Machu Picchu Sanctuary is situated.  From the Urubamba River below, one can actually see the Machu Picchu ruins and some of agricultural terraces associated with Machu Picchu actually extend close to the river. Near Machu Picchu, the river is unnavigable; however, further down the river it becomes possible to use boats and one can actually travel to the Amazon River and clear to the Atlantic Ocean because the Urubamba River is one of the headwaters of the Amazon River.  In the Sacred Valley before reaching Machu Picchu, the river is called the Wilcamayu River (sacred river).  The Urubamba River merges with the Apurimac River to form the Ucayali River near the town of Atalaya, Peru. The Urubamba River is divided into the Upper Urubamba, Middle Urubamba and Lower Urubamba Rivers with the Pongo de Mainique (a whitewater canyon) defining the border of the Upper Urubamba River. The Upper Urubamba River Valley has a high population and extensive irrigation and agricultural fields. In contrast, the Lower Urubamba is comparatively undeveloped with little irrigation or agriculture.  While the Upper Urubamba is primarily inhabited by Quechua people, the Middle and Lower Urubamba River Basins are primarily inhabited by indigenous Amazonian people like the Campas tribes, such as the Machiguenga (Matsigenka) and Ashaninka people.  Curiously the British geologist and explorer, John Walter Gregory, drowned in the Urubamba River not far from Machu Picchu while on a geological expedition to the Andes in the 1930s.   

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Photograph Copyright Chuck Clark, all rights reserved, Machu Picchu Urubamba River