Aguas Calientes in Perú was once a poor and undisturbed town, but recent improvements in business and infrastructure have helped bring new vitality to the area. New hotels and restaurants are working in the limited space of the valley.
The small town stretches up the slopes above the Aguas Calientes river, and hotels are beginning to populate the Orquídeas neighborhood on the other side of the river. Aguas Calientes in Perú has several hotels and restaurants (pizzerias abound here), as well as some sites that are worth visiting.
Aguas Calientes in Perú is the end of the train line that runs between Cusco and Machu Picchu. There is a bus service to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, in addition, you can take walks through the forest until you reach the ancient site.
The town’s thermal baths offer travelers a place to enjoy and relax. They are cleaner in the morning, but they get pretty dirty at night. A path leads up past the baths to some impressive waterfalls, this is an ideal place to swim and take pictures. Also, there are other waterfalls in this area that you can visit.
On the way to Machu Picchu, you will find a new museum dedicated to the famous Inca site. The museum is small but modern and has a good number of exhibits dedicated to the culture, history and geography of Machu Picchu. The museum also has a botanical garden.
Putukusi is a forested rock dome above Aguas Calientes in Perú. It is a half day hike to reach the top, travelers are rewarded with a wonderful view of Machu Picchu. During your hike you will cross the cloud forest and have the opportunity to observe a great variety of tropical birds. However, keep in mind that you will have to climb a 600-foot (200m) wooden ladder along the cliff to reach the final lookout.
Where is Aguas Calientes?
Aguas Calientes in Perú is the small cosmopolitan city located just below Machu Picchu. It is located 2,040 meters above sea level (6,692 ft).
It is known as Machu Picchu town due to its proximity to the Inca City.
Aguas Calientes in Perú is a magical town: there are no vehicles except the buses that go up to Machu Picchu. The immense mountains and rivers that surround this town provide a unique landscape.
You can do many things in Aguas Calientes in Perú: climb the Putucusi mountain, take a walk through the Mándor gardens or relax in the thermal baths. However, the biggest tourist attraction is undoubtedly Machu Picchu.
How is the train route to get there?
By the Ollantaytambo train route:
To get to Aguas Calientes in Perú you will have to first get to the city of Cusco.
From there you will board a minivan car to the train station in Ollantaytambo.
There you must travel by train until you finally arrive at the train station in the town of Aguas Calientes.
By the alternative Hydroelectric route:
To get to Aguas Calientes in Perú by this alternate route you will first have to take a bus from the city of Cusco to the town of Santa María.
Then you must take a collective taxi to the town of Santa Teresa.
In Santa Teresa you must take a collective taxi again to the Hydroelectric station.
In Hidroeléctrica you can choose between reaching Aguas Calientes by train or walking.
Interesting facts about Machu Picchu town
- The origins of Aguas Calientes date back to 1901 when the workers who built a railway line settled in that place.
- The Japanese citizen Oscar Yokichi Nouchi was the first mayor of Aguas Calientes. Before that, Yokichi had been hired in the construction of the railway line.
- With the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, the place began to populate little by little.
- Today it is the town with the largest influx of tourists in Peru. It is estimated that more than 1 million tourists visit Machu Picchu each year.
- In Aguas Calientes, the construction of a cable car that would replace the bus trip from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu is being discussed.
How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
You get to Machu Picchu through the Hiram Bingham highway in 2 different ways:
- A bus trip from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu that lasts approximately 30 minutes.
- A short walk from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu with a duration of approximately 2 hours.
How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on foot?
It is a great idea to go from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on foot. The route on foot is up a steep mountain so it demands a great physical effort.
The first sections are on one side of the road. Then, you climb several stairs that cut the slopes of the mountains. The last section continues along the road until reaching the entrance gate to Machu Picchu.
How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu by bus?
The ticket office for the buses to Machu Picchu is very close to the final train station in Aguas Calientes. From there the buses depart to the Wonder of the World.
You can only buy bus tickets by presenting your passport or valid identity document. The bus ride is short. It lasts approximately 30 minutes. Go up a high mountain until you reach the gateway to the Wonder of the World.
What to do in Aguas Calientes?
Here are the main tourist attractions of Aguas Calientes:
Inca city of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist attraction in Aguas Calientes, Cusco and Peru.
Approximately 1.5 million tourists visit Machu Picchu each year.
All tourists who visit Machu Picchu also visit Aguas Calientes since this town became a highly touristy place.
In Machu Picchu the tourist can also choose to ascend the mountains Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. The latter is considered one of the best short walks on the planet.
To get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, you must take a rising bus whose journey takes approximately 30 minutes. The other option is to go up on foot (the journey takes approximately 2 hours).
If you like hiking outdoors, Putucusi mountain is the preferred activity for adventurous people in Aguas Calientes.
This mountain is 2,560 meters high (8,398 ft).
This route is one of the most difficult short walks in Aguas Calientes. It crosses a little signposted path as well as some extreme vertical stairs. The journey takes approximately 2 hours.
The top of this mountain will allow you to take amazing views of the Inca City of Machu Picchu from a little known angle.
It takes a good physical condition to climb this mountain. Wear hiking shoes and carry plenty of water with you.
The Mándor Gardens are an ecological reserve full of exuberant ecology. It is located a few kilometers from Aguas Calientes (1 hour walk).
The road from Aguas Calientes to the Mándor gardens is full of vegetation where they stand out: orchids, ferns, begonias, mushrooms and more.
During the walk through the Mándor gardens it is also possible to hear the song of various birds as well as appreciate the flight of various species of butterflies.
At the end of the road are the ‘Mándor Waterfalls’, a waterfall several meters high.
The Mándor Gardens is a place to visit for people who enjoy ecology.
Aguas Calientes Hot Springs
The town of Aguas Calientes has small pools of natural hot water known as ‘thermal baths’.
The Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes will allow you to relax after your excursion through Machu Picchu. The temperature of its waters varies from 38º (100ºF). at 46ºC. (114 ° F).
These natural springs are attributed curative properties in the treatment of rheumatic diseases of all kinds.
The Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes are located in the highest part of the town. It can be reached by following the end of Hermanos Ayar de Aguas Calientes avenue.
The entrance fees vary according to the nationality of the people: Peruvian visitors pay 5 soles (2 USD) and foreigners pay 10 soles (3 USD).
The artisan market of Aguas Calientes
One of the favorite places for tourists to visit is the Aguas Calientes artisan market.
This market is located to the right of the train station. There the visitor will be able to find a great diversity of handicrafts and utensils such as: alpaca clothing, paintings, wooden sculptures, stone, musical instruments, masks, gold and silver jewelry and much more.
Most tourists choose to shop at the artisan market after visiting Machu Picchu and before boarding the train that will return them to the city of Cusco.
The fact of being the final point before entering the Inca city of Machu Picchu makes prices high.
If you find something you want at all costs, try haggling (asking for a cheaper price).
Manuel Chávez Ballón Site Museum
The Machu Picchu site museum exhibits tools that were unearthed from the Inca City such as ceramics, stone utensils, textiles, and more.
The museum is called ‘Manuel Chávez Ballón’ in homage to the work carried out by this Peruvian archaeologist in the first years after the discovery of Machu Picchu.
The museum is located on the Hiram Bingham road that leads to Machu Picchu (at kilometer 112).
To get there you will have to walk around 20 minutes from the town of Aguas Calientes.
To enter you will need the ticket «Machu Picchu Museum», which includes the entrance to a botanical garden.
Restaurants and bars in Aguas Calientes
In the town of Aguas Calientes there are a variety of restaurants, bars, discos and hotels.
The most famous restaurants are: the Indio Feliz, the Chullpi, the El Mapi and the Tinkuy Buffet.
The cheapest option is the Aguas Calientes food market. There the visitor can buy a lunch from 8 Peruvian soles (3 USD).
The most recognized bars are: Mapacho, Rock’n Roses Snack Bar, Inkaterra bar and more.
The best hotels in Aguas Calientes are: the Sactuary Lodge, the Casa del Sol, the Casa Andina, the Sumaq Hotel and the Inkaterra.