Quillabamba is sometimes called Bajo Urubamba. That’s not because it’s a lower part of the town of Urubamba, rather it’s at the lower end of the Urubamba River. It is much lower in altitude and much closer to the Amazon than Cusco, which is a relief for those who struggle with altitude but trouble for those who struggle with humidity and heat.
If you want to tour a coffee or cacao farm, this is the place to go. All of the good local chocolate and coffee that’s sold in Cusco comes from Quillabamba or Santa Teresa. There are many private farms and cooperatives that welcome travelers for tours or as lodging.
If you’re interested in coffee, check out the Coffee Project by the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development or Café Orígenes.
You don’t need to arrange a visit to a coffee or cacao farm before you go. This is easy to do once you arrive in Quillabamba.
The best way to get to Quillabamba is from Cusco on a bus. It is a very windy 4 and a half hour drive on roads that are not particularly safe in the rainy season due to floods and landslides. The train used to go to Quillabamba, until the tracks were washed out in the 1990s. Since the trains have been privatized, service to Quillabamba ceased in favor of devoting all trains to taking tourists to Machu Picchu.
Since Quillabamba is in the region of Cusco, some coffee or chocolate will be marked as from Cusco. That doesn’t mean that either of these products can be grown at the altitude of the city of Cusco.