While generally used as just a stopover on their way to the sacred sanctuary, Aguas Calientes offers visitors more than just that, housing attractions such as a restaurants, a butterfly sanctuary, and more. Here are a few recommendations about how to get to Aguas Calientes and what to do during your stop at the Machu Picchu Pueblo.
You can, among other options, take a train from Cusco from two available train companies, PeruRail or IncaRail, that depart from the Poroy station or the Ollantaytambo station. The companies often take you by bus to the departure station.
The Poroy station is 20 minutes from Cusco by taxi, and the train ride will take 3.5 hours.
However, if you want to enjoy the Sacred Valley beforehand, the Ollantaytambo station is 2 hours from Cusco and will take an hour and fifty minutes to reach Aguas Calientes.
If you’re traveling on a budget, reaching Aguas Calientes by bus and then walk 12 km along the railway to arrive at Aguas Calientes. The scenic route takes around 2 hours.
As soon as you’re in the city, you’ll notice that the railway runs right through the center of the town.
We recommend that you use Aguas Calientes as your before and after relaxation portion of your getaway.
Aguas Calientes is around 6,700 feet above sea level, and Machu Picchu is around 8,000. So, if you aren’tused to higher elevations or long travels, staying in Aguas Calientes is best.
Also, for acclimatization help, coca leaves will be your best friend, whether it be chewing them or drinking it in a tea.
Aguas Calientes has an array of shops and artisanal markets at its center that are easily accessible by walking. The city also has an assortment of restaurants that can cater to any pallet.
Keep in mind that because Aguas Calientes is very touristy, prices here can be much steeper than the rest of Peru. Try to budget accordingly.
Nevertheless, here’s what we suggest you visit:
While Aguas Calientes has an assortment of food to offer, if you’re a fan of craft beer and of good Peruvian cuisine, Mapacho Craft Beer & Peruvian Beer is the place to go.
Also called the Machu Picchu Museum, the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chavez Ballon (S/ 22 entrance, about $7) is a small yet very informative museum showcasing the conservation and preservation of Machu Picchu.
It’s located about a mile away from the town center and is worth visiting before making the famous trek yourself.
The Mariposa de Machu Picchu is a butterfly sanctuary (S/ 10 admission, or $3) that is half an hour away from the city center. It is a must see in Aguas Calientes.
Afterwards, you can visit Los Jardines de Mandor, which is located 45 minutes past the butterfly sanctuary.
Los Jardines de Mandor is a family project for nature conservation, offering visitors beautiful views of the Urubamaba River, Huayna Picchu, and a waterfall. Visitors may also choose to spend the night there in the property’s private accommodations.
Lastly, did you know that Aguas Calientes (meaning hot waters in Spanish) has hot springs that can reach 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit? We recommend you take a soak after trekking Machu Picchu. For foreigners, the admission is about 20 soles ($6).
Remember to be considerate with time at each location if you are wishing to visit various spots in one day.
Overall, even though Aguas Calientes is one of the smaller cities in Peru that caters to tourists, it has a lot to offer. So, don’t hesitate to save time for exploring it either before or after your Machu Picchu excursion.
This article has been revised and updated from its original publication on May 16, 2019.
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